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December 8th, 2010 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Olde-Tyme Portlanders

     
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Fifth generation Portlander, with tons of family, friends and neighbors. NONE of whom think the slogan “Keep Portland Weird” is amusing. Makes us look like fools. —K.H.

Wow, a genuine olde-tyme Portlander! I appreciate your taking time from log-splitting and pelt-scraping to let me know you don’t hold with such new-fangled notions as willful eclecticism and complete sentences, K. Your oddly joyless missive suggests nostalgia for a simpler time, when real Portlanders wore flannel, knocked down trees and stoned adulteresses to ensure a bountiful harvest.

And I feel your pain—these days “real Portlanders” wear skinny jeans, knock down $6 pints and lose sleep over the greenhouse implications of their own farts. Grizzly Adams we ain’t.

To add insult to injury, a lot of us aren’t even from here. In fact, you could make a case that the archetypal Portlander is one who was born somewhere else. After all, statistically, isn’t it the native-born Portlanders who are the outliers, the aberrations—the freaks?

Which brings us to the question I’m going to pretend is implied by your letter, K.: Everyone knows a lot of Portlanders were born outside Oregon. But how many, exactly? How large is this nonnative cohort, such that effete hipster transplants—many of whom can’t even field-dress an elk—dare call themselves the typical Portlanders?

Well, as of 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57.7 percent of Portlanders were born outside Oregon. That’s nearly three out of every five. I’d say that makes us nonnatives pretty typical. You know, normal. Human.

Still, Portland isn’t quite tops in out-of-state births nationwide. Of the 30 biggest U.S. cities, we come in seventh, below Seattle and San Francisco, and far behind Las Vegas, where only 23 percent are native-born. So call your out-of-state buddies—we’ve got some catching up to do.

 
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