As someone who grew up near Portland, Oregon, USA, the current hipness is interesting to me. I started taking the bus alone into Portland from my small farming town of Sherwood just to go to Powell’s City of Books, which is now a tourist destination. I still have some of the books I carried home on the bus in recycled brown paper grocery bags. I was about ten years old at the time and my mother’s only warning to me was to stay away from the waterfront, which was undeveloped and seedy at the time. We raised animals on a few acres and went to a local feed store for supplies like horse grain, seeds and chicks. Now there are stores in the city like Urban Homestead Supply that sell mason jars for twice the price, chicken sweaters and mango butter soap. There was an advisory in a newspaper in Eugene, Oregon awhile back warning people not to kiss their chickens because urban “farmers” were getting sick.
In any case, my home city is now hot, even in far away places like Tokyo. In fact, there are even Portland-themed restaurants in Japan. Aside from the hipster jokes and the fact that I don’t like some of the impact of becoming “cool” like high rent and the negative impacts of gentrification, we are lucky to live in a great, beautiful and freeing place — a place of possibilities. Now I need to travel to Japan and experience a different view for myself.
Here’s a piece I recently wrote for Oregon’s 1859 Magazine on the trend: