"Yeah, gentrification is totally the story of what's big in Portland right now."
This is where the conversation usually goes when talking to people who've left town for a few years. This young woman has been in Argentina, and is one of an increasingly rare breed—the Portland native. She also understands that the Pearl isn't the problem, it's what's going on in the inner east side.
"Yeah, that's the thing," I tell her. "I was actually pro-Pearl at the time. The way I saw it, it would be like a ghetto for those people—they'd have their little neighborhood with all the same architecture and little restaurants and boutiques and never have to leave, and the rest of the city could be left in peace."
"Yeah!" she says. "But now they're building those same fucking buildings all over town!"
"Exactly, and it drives up housing costs at all the existing places, because now the neighborhood's 'on the rise' or whatever."
"At least the little coffee shops and galleries and shit showcase local artists..." she offers.
"Yeah, but how many of those 'local' artists do you think have lived here longer than two or three years?"
"And they take over these neighborhoods and are so self-righteous about it, they figure everyone with a blue collar should live in Gresham, like what Portland needs is more baristas and bartenders with indie rock bands," she says. "I mean, look at the neighborhood I grew up in!"
We pull up to her Hawthorne address. She sighs.