Tanner Springs

August 6, 2005 at 10:57 pm (Portland)

So yesterday I went to the coronation of Tanner Springs Park,
Portland’s newest and the second of 4 planned for the so-called Pearl
District (Pearls, it should be noted, can be harvested through
aquaculture, but that’s another post entirely). Here is a good article in the Tribune, and here is what Randy Gragg has to say about it.
Named after a stream that ran into the marshland on the banks of the
Wilamette River before it was converted into a railyard, before it was
converted into million-dollar condos, Tanner Springs attempts to
juxtapose the diverse history of this part of the city in a highly
engineered, seemingly functional wetland. (real wetlands don’t have
underground cisterns, UV-purification systems, pumps or pipes.) It’s
something only Portland would attempt to do, and I’m going to tell you
what I think about it.

I expected to be disappointed. I have been watching the construction
pretty regularly, and I didn’t think it was going to work. It seemed too
contrived, from the complex mechanical systems to the thousands of
years of sedimentation they mimiced by layering different types of
rocks and soils under the grass. And that fucking “art wall.” That’s
what you get for hiring some internationally renowned architect who has
never even been here until this weekend: someone’s experimental art
project. Let’s take one of the salient features of the Pearl, the
boardwalk, and separate it from the glistening new park with a bunch or
rusty old pieces of railroad. Well I was wrong. It isn’t nearly as high
as I thought, and you can see right over it. Or through it. Upon closer
inspection, I think it works rather well. And the functionality of the
park itself as a self-contained system will likely only increase over
time. I saw a lily pad growing in the pond, and soon there will
probably be frogs, which means that it will sound like a wetland, and
once the grass and trees grow in some more, it won’t look nearly as
engineered as it does now. In 5 years that place will be an absolute
gem, a pearl, if you will.

If. If people realize what that place is and can be and take
appropriate steps to ensure that it happens. I can’t believe I’m saying
this, because I thought one of the best parts about it was going to be
watching the pretentious Pearl District residents (disclaimer: not all
PD residents are pretentious) trying to “educate” their fellow citizens
about why you really should not stand there, or bring your dog, or
throw cigarette butts in the pond. It was going to be hilarious. But
having spent a few hours there yesterday and today, I really see the
need for a Park Police, and I am hereby deputizing myself. Keep your
dog away, and keep your kids on the path. Is that so hard? Jamison
Square is 2 blocks away.

And here is a special shout-out to that old woman in the blue shirt,
walking a white furball: I saw you. I saw you at approximately 2 PM on Saturday while you WATCHED your
dog shit on the pristine, manicured grass in one of the few sitting
areas in the park. You were standing right in front of the xylophone
band. I saw you laugh it up with some dude, and walk away. I also saw
some poor bastard come by and clean up after your fucking mutt about 5
minutes later. I don’t care how old, crotchity, and disgustingly rich
you are: this is not your park. You cannot come here and absolve
yourself of responsibility to abide by the rules and make amends for
the mess your selfish, aloof behavior creates. If I hadn’t been so far
away I would have picked it up and thrown it at you.



  1. rock creek rambler said,

    I don’t get it – what’s the harm in dog shit? Isn’t that good for the grass?

  2. JB said,

    No. You obviously didn’t read the article I graciously linked to. Short version: the park mimics a natural wetland, and any sudden injection of nutrient rich runoff, such as what happens when your dog shits all over the place, will fuck up the chemistry and defeat the purpose of the whole thing. Plus, people sit on the grass. That’s what it is there for, not for some old crow’s walking shit factory.

  3. rock creek rambler said,

    I read it – I was just testing you. You passed. Carry on.

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