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The Portland Scene

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The Portland Scene


Dominant Occupations: In the Portland YSA culture, while most people work, no one really cares what you do. Vocational success (or lack thereof) is generally checked at the door, and unless you feel like tooting your own horn, rarely does the topic of career ever come up. That being said, PDXers generally fall into one of two groups:

1) Born and raised in Oregon and have never left. Generally live at home and work some type of shift job rather than in a “career,” per se.

2) College-educated professional; mostly transplants. Portland is home to a growing tech and start-up scene: Nike, Intel, Providence Healthcare, Xerox, and a number of companies that recruit heavily at the BYU-schools. This group also includes grad students: medical, dental, law, BPA, PA and other advanced degrees from OHSU, PSU, Pacific, Lewis & Clark, etc.

Average Age Range: 18-22 and 26-31. Often called “the double bell.”

Portland State of Mind: Slow and steady. Be who you are and you’ll fit in. “Keep Portland Weird” is the official slogan of the city, so we’re pretty welcoming of everyone.

Girl/Guy Ratio: 5:4, girls to guys. Close, but a few more ladies.

Hobbies: Exploring the great outdoors, rain or shine — be it hiking, biking, or trail- running. In Portland, you’re only ever 15 miles from a waterfall. And food is a hobby, right? Because the PDX foodie scene is out of this world. So if you’re not at a happy hour or meal, you’re talking about where to eat at the next one.

Local Hangouts and Hotspots: Biking on any of the hundreds of miles of paved bike trails, hiking in the gorge, sliding down the natural rockslide at Opal Creek, satisfying a sweet and savory tooth with Salt & Straw ice cream (Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache or Tomato Water and Ojai Olive Oil Sherbet anyone?), cruising the art galleries in the Pearl District on First Thursday, meeting friends for Happy Hour at Oswego Grill, frequenting Cartopia to knock another food cart off your list.

Typical Night on the Weekends: Dinner at the food carts (where there’s something for everyone) followed by a seasonally appropriate activity: a) Summer – any any anything outdoors. A festival, a walk, a hike, a drive-in movie, a firepit in someone’s backyard. A game of pick-up basketball at the local park, a tennis match, any of the hundreds of festivals passing through town. Or b) The Rest of Year – We get fat from all of the eating, and pasty from all of the non-sun seeing.

Sports Scene: Though PDX be small (and only have two major sports teams), she is mighty. The fan base for the Blazers (#ripcity!) and the Timbers are routinely called out as some of the best in the nation.

Cultural Scene: While it may not as big as some other major cities, Portland has its own culture that is alive and well. Music and art have a HUGE presence in PDX, from dingy basement  bands at a house party in SW or on the waterfront during the annual Portland Symphony’s outdoor concert. The Pearl District has a number of art galleries, and the Japanese Garden is touted as the most authentic outside of Japan. Traveling Broadway shows pass through town occasionally, as do big-name musical acts, small-name musical acts, and no-name musical acts. (If I told you what musicians I’m talking about, they wouldn’t be hip anymore, would they?)

Diet: Portland is all about its food. Both inexpensive and delicious, PDX is a foodie’s dream destination. Anointed “the world’s best street food” by CNN, Portland has more than 600 food carts in the metro area serving up every variety of ethnic or eclectic food imaginable. At $5-7 a plate, no one is going broke on Portland dining. Additionally, the majority of brick and mortar restaurants throughout the city have Happy Hour food specials ranging from $3-$7.

Myth Bust: Just like in Seattle — it’s not always raining; Portland doesn’t even crack the Top #15 for rainiest cities! The rain here is more of a mist; true Portlanders don’t even carry umbrellas. While the winters can’t get a little long/grey/dark, there’s no place on earth like Portland during July and August. Spoiler alert: The Garden of Eden sets up camp in the PNW.

What It’s Missing: Air Conditioning. Very few properties have AC units, and while they aren’t needed 85% of the year, summer days climb into the 90’s with humidity (but nothing a box unit can’t fix).

Ward Breakdown: Landing in any of the wards or branches beyond the big three is social suicide. Here’s what you’ve got to work with:

1) Westlake Ward – Covers the suburbs south of Portland (in the Tualatin and Lake Oswego stakes), Westlake is the largest and the coveted ward of attendance in the Portland area. A solid mix of ages and personality types, Westlake sees quite a bit of turnover at each of the BYU (I & Y) semester breaks. Westlake is the hub for later-20’s working professionals.

2) Canyon Road Ward – With members from the Downtown and Beaverton areas, Canyon Road is the hipster destination for PDX YSAs. Nice, if a little quirky, a little young, and with a healthy-dosed scattering of scraggly beards.

3) Tanasbourne Ward – Covers the northwestern parts of Portland; farthest from the city and the temple, recently described as “the Hufflepuff” of Portland YSA Wards. But hey, you’re close to the Nike campus.

Temple Proximity: The Portland temple is located right on I-5 in Lake Oswego; 20 minutes from downtown and easily accessible to the surrounding areas. Fun facts: The temple has an internal atrium open to visitors, dark cherry wood throughout, and a two-story celestial room.

Classic Ward/FHE Activities: Potluck dinners, service activities, and one-step-removed-from-BYU-FHE-activities (human foosball, corn mazes, etc.).

Dating Portland Guys: Typically, the Portland guy is a bit shy until he feels comfortable socially, and then he is friendly and inclusive. And due to their more introverted nature, it’s often hard to tell what a PDX guy’s intentions are (Is this a date? Are we just hanging out? Is he interested..? Spoiler alert: there’s a LOT of hanging out in Portland.) Once things are made FINALLY official, the Portland guy is committed and attentive, and relationships progress to marriage pretty quickly.

Dating Portland Girls: The PDX woman is open-minded when it comes to the “types” of guy she will date. She’s looking for love and doesn’t hold firmly to any specific look, occupation, or socioeconomic background for her ‘dream man’ —  she’s open to it all. Because the YSA pool is small, fresh meat drives the competitive spirit, which either gender can easily use to their advantage.

Resident Mormon Celeb: Corbin Allred, actor of “The Saratov Approach” and other recognizable Mormon movies.

The Coast: It’s not a beach. Never will you hear anyone EVER call the Oregon coast “the beach”. The water is freezing, the sand is rocky, and the weather unpredictable. But even still, the Coast (a quick 75 minute drive west from Portland) is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon and day trips are frequent year round.

Proximity to Seattle: Less than three hours to the north, Seattle is the perfect weekend (or long day trip) for a change of scenery and people.

Prepare for Service: If you’re worthy and have at least 52% of your social skills intact, prepare yourself for a good-sized calling. While that may seem an overwhelming prospect, the trade-off is that it’s fairly easy to have meaningful impact on a ward through service.

Recycling: Doing it “correctly” is more complicated than you think.

Portland Might Be For You If: You want a cooler-temp, slower-paced lifestyle, enjoy activities in nature that aren’t just laying out at the beach, and don’t mind being a big fish in a little pond.

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  1. 2
    Carissa Halliday

    If you live near the Pearl, but don’t have a car…is Westlake or Canyon Road better? I have a job in the pearl and live barely north portland (biking distance) and the locator put me in springwater which is super far away. But everything seems far away.

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