Guest Editorial: Scott Kveton

[Editor’s note: Continuing the Silicon Florist’s guest editorial series, we welcome Scott Kveton, a well-known force-of-nature in the Portland technology community. And, as you’ll see, the de facto Chamber of Commerce for the Portland startup scene.]
Made in Oregon

Image courtesy Modified Enzyme under Creative Commons

Falling in love with Portland again and again

Last week was amazing. I spent most of it with Luke Sontag here in Portland, meeting with folks, spreading the good word about Vidoop and generally being in the city.

Having grown up in-and-around Portland, it’s always fun to see the reaction to everything-that-is-Portland from someone who doesn’t live here. (Oh, and the weather we had last week didn’t hurt either.)

I got a chance to talk a little bit about this at Ignite Portland 2, but I’ll say it again: This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn. Even more, I think Chris Logan had it right: it’s time for Portland to step up and take its place.

There has been some talk about how “if you don’t live in the Bay Area and you’re in tech, you’re basically a wuss.”

So be it. The very last thing I want is for Portland to turn into the Bay Area or Seattle. I want it to be Portland. I want other cities to be saying “wouldn’t it be great if we were more like Portland?” I simply want Portland to come into its own in tech, in the arts, sustainability, green, etc.

But, how do we get to that point?

Well, it takes a bunch of us, it takes some time and, ironically, the city does most of the work for you.

For the past couple of years, I’ve made it a point to try to help people who are considering a move to Portland. I’ve spent countless days taking people around the city, introducing them to others in the city, and generally trying to give them a “locals’ view” of the city.

Now, the tour I take folks on covers a bit of ground and I’m seeking some input on the route. A couple of places I go to:

  • Tour of SW waterfront area with gondola love
  • Sellwood district (possibly for lunch, definitely for dinner at Saburo’s if it’s a weekday night)
  • SE towards 78th or so … Marshall has been kind enough to meet me more than once at the Bipartisan Cafe… soooo PDX
  • Alberta or Killingsworth… I used to live at Billy Reed’s at the turn of the century and I can’t believe how much it’s all changed since then
  • Pearl District for coffee (Caffe Umbria is amazing) or drinks (the Vault or even the Clyde Commons)
  • NW on 21st or 23rd… just too much to do, to eat, to see

Where would you take a touring visitor to get a taste of Portland from a local’s point-of-view? Bear in mind, I’m not looking for just a tech-person view on this. I’m all about diversity here.

The key to all of this, and the thing that I keep in mind at all times, is serendipity. Yeah, yeah, I know. Hard to quantify, huh? Well, I’m not the cheerleader type unless I really, really believe in it. Portland I can believe in. This city, the people, the places. It’s easy.

If you’re not predisposed to drink the PDX Kool-aid, then you’re probably not the type of person I’d want here anyway. And, if you’ve ended up in my Inbox or with my phone number, odds are, there’s a reason.

I’ll put this out there; if you have a friend or colleague that is thinking about making the move to Portland I’ll offer up my time for coffee or even the full-fledged tour to introduce them to the city and the people I know. It’s just the right thing to do. And, I’d challenge you to do the same.

Again, it’s not about trying to make Portland something it’s not… it’s about embracing serendipity and helping Portland realize its potential.

P.S. – first round is always on me … 🙂

Scott Kveton is a digital identity promoter, open source advocate, and Chairman of the OpenID Foundation. He has worked at Amazon, RuleSpace.com, JanRain, and MyStrands, and founded the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University. He is a regular speaker on the topic of identity and open source. Kveton currently serves as the Vice President of Open Platforms for Vidoop, a company he recently wooed to the Silicon Forest.

  1. […] of Oregon (SAO), founder of the OSU Open Source Lab, the former chair of the OpenID Foundation, a Portvangelist, someone who spends more than his fair share of time at PDX, and the guy who helped bring Vidoop to […]

  2. […] Falling in love with Portland, again and again “This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn.” […]

  3. […] Scott Kveton, the original Portvangelist, has arranged to bring members of the Vidoop team up here in waves, introducing them to Portland […]

  4. Well Scott,
    I have to say that we can’t wait to check out Portland. It seems that it has everything to like and so little (traffic, i hear) to complain about. I think the part I’m looking forward to the most is being so near to both the beach and the mountains. Camping in OK is fine but your only two options are hills or flat.

  5. I’m careful about who I tell about Portland. Mostly because there are lots of people who will come here because it’s “cool,” but then move to the suburbs, shop at the malls and cause more sprawl and more Chili’s and Wolfgang Pucks to fester. What people love about Portland that I’ve seen listed above are the unique places that can’t really be duplicated. Sure, there are more jobs and “opportunities” in Sili Valley, but there’s more humanity in Portland. And I guess there’s a side of me that thinks that an open cattle-call for people to relocate here could mess that up. Then we’d just be ordinary.

    Keep Portland weird.

  6. For weekend guests, nothing quite like The Goodfoot on a Friday night, especially when a breakdance battle starts up.

    Also, I like to take people to the first place I was taken to on my maiden visit to PDX, The Space Room on Hawthorne. Nothing more Portlandy than that place IMO.

  7. Via email from Bill Winet:


    I read your guest email from Silicon Florist, and I have some recommendations for you. It seems to me that your itinerary is for one specific audience. But I think you’re missing others – people with children, people interested in the arts… So here are some recommendations:

    · OMSI

    · Oregon Ballet Theatre at the Keller

    · Oregon Symphony

    · Check out other theatrical productions

    · Portland Art Museum

    · Chinese Garden

    · Washington Park, Tryon State Park…

    · The zoo

    · Portland City Grill (great view of the city)



  8. JT: One of the interesting things happening in Portland is that a lot of us geeks are working remotely, for companies based elsewhere. And I don’t know about anyone else, but my current job was not on Dice or Craigslist. I think the real key is to show up looking to connect with people. Work is available, but you won’t find it without getting out and meeting people.

  9. Saturday Market and Le Happy for crepes late at night. Oh and the trip wouldn’t be complete without going to Le Bistro Montage.

  10. If you’re trying to attract tech folks, then perhaps a special mention and trip should be made to Powell’s Technical Book Store. I frequently take Bay Area visitors there (who are in the computer/networking biz) and they are astonished at the store that caters to all of their geeky interests.

    The downside of Portland as a destination for tech folks is that there are actually very few jobs here, and even fewere that pay well. There are some low-paying tech jobs (and lots of non-profits!) but in order to earn a decent living, the Bay Area still is the best destination. I actually (phyiscally and tele) commute to San Mateo, since the startup environment here is so bleak. Yes, there are some, but nowhere near the density required for an adequate open jobs market.

    Try this experiment: go to Dice or Monster or whatever. Type in “VoIP” or “Cisco” or “unix” and compare Silicon Valley to Portland. On Dice, VoIP returned 9 hits for PDX. It returned 146 for Silicon Valley.

    I love Portland and won’t move, but it’s not a place to arrive without a job or a willingness to work in food service.


  11. Yes! Yes! on the breweries, and I love all you said about your must-sees. I would add Stumptown Coffee, McMenamin’s Edgefield, Voodoo Doughnuts, Alberta Street Art Walk (and First Thursday Art Walk), Council Crest, Mount Tabor, Live Wire at The Aladdin, Powell’s City of Books, a performance of LRSD, March Fourth, Roller Derby at the Expo Center, Storm Large at Dante’s, a show at the Doug Fir… Hmm, so many, and so little time!

    Thanks, Scott! I’m so energized now! Oh, and I am a Portland native.


  12. Tim: I think its all relative. The cost of living has increased in Portland since forever … but its always been relatively cheaper than other places and I think it always will be. One of our secret weapons is the state income tax. Fortunately a good chunk of people are too cheap or unwilling to pay it and I think that will always stem the tide to a certain extent.

    I’m sure I’ll be burned at the stake for this but Portland is a great place and growth is inevitable … don’t you want more “good” folks and not just anything that gets off the bus?

  13. Does none of this worry you? Where are we going to put all of these fabulous people we woo to the city? And how is this all going to remain affordable for Portlanders who are actually from Portland. Portland’s a cheap alternative to other cities, but with such an influx of outside money from places with higher paying jobs and costs of llving, often it’s lifetime Oregonians who are getting the shaft here. We need to be careful what we wish for.

  14. Born and raised in Berkeley. Lived in the Bay Area all my life.
    My wife could say the same thing about Portland. She took me to Portland one summer and I’ve been hooked on the city ever since.
    I wouldn’t wast my time trying to compare Portland to other cities. Portland already has enough to make it special. So much so that other places are left wanting. I find myself there whenever my schedule allows. Where else could I do so many interesting things. We have my wife’s parents house so I plan to move there upon retirement. How’s that for a vote of confidence?

  15. After I got out of college I spent ten years in Manhattan and eight years in DC before moving to Portland in 1997. While I still miss the urban critical mass that is New York, I love Portland with a passion.

    The food, the wine, the bookstores, the climate (YES! the climate!), the fact that you can wear jeans to any restaurant in the city and be treated nicely by the staff. I love my job (I’m one of those Nike people) and my 1923 bungalow in Laurelhurst and my commute on the light rail. It’s a very civilzed place.

  16. Visiting PDX for first time in two weeks from Central New York. Can’t wait to get there and am encouraged to read these comments. Where I’m from there is a dark and bleak side to living. We don’t experience too many natural disasters but the place does get on your nerves. How about that corner of Oregon?

  17. More for the Eastside: (24-Hour) Pancake & Steak House on Powell, Claudia’s on Hawthorne and the highback barstools, Foti’s Greek Deli, Nicola’s Mediterranean, Lucky Labrador (great ales), Pok Pok, Genie’s, De Nicola’s Italian (thickest pizzas I’ve ever had anywhere including Chicago)

    Sauvie’s Island farms/markets in the late summer, Springwater Trail Corridor and 40-Mile Loop, Yamhill County to Lincoln City (wine country and Pacific Ocean in one trip).

  18. I’ll add: Jake’s and the Blues Festival.

  19. Wow, I want to come home! Stuck in Cali and hating it. You guys have pointed out all the things I miss or haven’t yet experienced in Portland since I left in 79.

  20. Almost forgot a true Portvangelistic place (yeah I’m running with the term now): Day tripping to Mt. Hood, great mountain and only 60 minutes from town. Plus on a clear day the city shines like a diamond in the valley

  21. Awesome Post Scott. I like the idea of not becoming Seattle of SF.

  22. Didn’t notice a stop at Powell’s Books–a local must do–either downtown, or at Eastside or Westside locales.

    Hiking around Mt. Tabor.

    When my parents visited from Ohio, they were struck by the Farmer’s markets and the ethnic festivals (Greek, etc.)

    There’s also the old-fashioned roller-skating facility in Oak’s Bottom–go on an organ-playing night.

  23. I’m a regular Portvangelist! I always have Hawthorne/Powell’s/Stumptown/Voodoo Doughnuts on my tour list. add to that our cool knitting cafes (like Twisted on Broadway, Abundant Yarn in Sellwood, what-once-was-Mabel’s), our farmer’s markets (especially Park Blocks and Eastbank in season, and Hillsdale in the winter), Urban Grind NE for the mamas & daddies, great sushi joints in my nabe like Tani’s (Woodstock) and Yoko’s (Gladstone), Pix, and, for the thrift lover, the bins!

  24. Count me in as a Portvangelist!

    I recommend tours of Hawthorne & at least one Lebanese restaurant.

  25. Great post. Sign me up for any and all Portvangelist efforts. I returned to the area after spending 10 years in NYC and LA. IMHO, Portland has the best those and other places at the right scale. Food, arts, and even a growing collection of startups.

  26. Jason used to love corn dog pups from The Low Brow. 😉

    If you haven’t seen March Fourth perform, you should try to get tickets for their tomorrow.

  27. I noticed that no one listed the public schools. Hmmm.

  28. – If you’re going to do coffee, and you don’t go to Albina Press, then I don’t know what to say to you ;).

    – Obviously, a happy hour is in order. I agree with the Nightlight, but also recommend Holocene (one of the few places with cool AND nice wait staff), Produce Row (great tacos and awesome patio), and finally a high-end joint like Ringside Steakhouse to show Portland can be civilized as well as hipster.

    – While not a happy hour, The Low Brow Lounge is to me the ultimate Portland bar. Maybe because it was one of my first haunts 8 years ago when I was new to PDX and when it wasn’t quite yet ironic in the Pearl.

    – Possibly get them on a bike and do a Zoo Bomb?

  29. Be sure to add VooDoo Doughnuts to the list. IMHO you can’t get any more “Portland” than that. 🙂

  30. A few more ideas:

    A McMenamins is a must… preferrably that’ll be beer + pizze + a movie at a speakeasy like Baghdad or Kennedy School.

    One of portland’s many stripclubs (someone had to say it).

    The chinese / japanese gardens

    And day trips outside portland:

    checking out the gorge: waterfall alley, herman the stugeon at the bonneville dam, & beers at Full Sail brewery.

    The tillamook cheese factory & the oregon coast.

  31. how about lunch in downtown Lake Oswego and a tour (from a friend or contact) of the Nike campus. Cap it off with a Blazer game maybe??? Ride the max to the Zoo/Washington Park….so, so many things to do!

  32. Don’t forget:
    – Cheap movies that serve beer and pizza (Laurelhurst, St. John’s, any McMenamins theatres)
    – Belmont St. (Movie Madness, Aalto Lounge, etc. etc.)
    – Stumptown Coffee Shops (I vote for them before Cafe Umbria)
    – Best Happy Hour (IMO): Nightlight Lounge (on Clinton St.)
    – Last Thursday on Alberta

  33. Amen. Portland is the best place on Earth. Hopefully the sheer amount of willpower (not to mention the hard work of Rick, you, Raven, Legion of Tech and every other unsung Portvangelist (I just made up that word. not bad for a monday (ok it’s terrible)) who knows that PDX is the city.
    I am willing to do the same to show the sights that I love/know moreso than any other (Muu Muu’s on NW 21st, Hawthorne district (Chance of Rain cafe) and multitudes more.

    Heck this is a fantastic idea for a book.

  34. Don’t forget to give inner SE and some of Portland’s amazing breweries some love.

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