28 Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part IV

No. 13: Because we recycle enough paint to coat the Golden Gate Bridge seven times every year.

Portland is a very green city—somewhere on the spectrum between Tuscan olive and forest, you might say.

But the city is also Sweet Corn yellow, Barn red and Misty gray, thanks to Metro's massive paint recycling program. Every year, our regional government collects excess paint from across the state and recycles it, blending the quarter bucket of pinkish-gray Sherwin-Williams left over from your redecorated foyer with 2.5 million other gallons otherwise headed to the dump. At Metro's facility on Swan Island, it blends the salvaged satin and matte to make 18 new colors, like Crater Lake blue and Mountain Snow white.

Each batch is eyeballed and matched by mixers. If the blend is too dark, they add a splash of recycled white. Jim Quinn, who manages the program, says they have the color-matching system fine-tuned to an art. The result, Quinn says, "is as good as a quality new paint, but with a big price difference."

Prices vary by color between $42 and $60 for a 5-gallon pail from Metro or retailers like Fred Meyer. A comparable Sherwin-Williams pail would cost upward of $200.

If you want to see it in action, check out the exterior of the ReBuilding Center on North Mississippi Avenue or the lobby of the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center, which got its own custom color blend.

"Our paint appeals to two groups of customers," Quinn says, "those who are environmentally conscious and those who are bargain shoppers who like our price point." KARINA BUGGY.

No. 14: Because I got a job in Portland this year, and so can you.

The Portland metro area's unemployment rate has fallen off a cliff. We're now at 4.9 percent as of December, down from 6.2 percent the previous year.

We had 41,700 more jobs by the end of 2015, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's an increase of 3.8 percent—the fastest growth for any metropolitan area last year behind Silicon Valley, tied with Austin, Texas, for second place, according to the Oregon Employment Department. And many of the jobs are high-paying ones, for the college educated – engineers, architects, lawyers, computer programmers, doctors and nurses.

Heck, I got a journalism job after moving here from New York. If a newcomer can land a job in print media, there's hope for you, whoever you are. RACHEL MONAHAN.

No. 15: Because we're finally addressing the city's mental health crisis.

On Portland's streets and in our emergency rooms and jails is evidence of a mental health crisis. Police officers act as counselors, and emergency rooms and jail cells serve as warehouses for people who have fallen through a gossamer-thin safety net.

That will change late this year, thanks to Oregon Health & Science University, Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Health. The hospitals normally compete aggressively with each other, but will team up to open the Unity Center for Behavioral Health.

The new facility will serve as a psychiatric emergency room staffed by doctors and nurses trained to treat patients experiencing crisis. That will be an extraordinary step forward from today's standard response, in which police often dump patients at ERs ill-equipped to handle them and with no place to lodge them.

The Unity Center will be located at Legacy's Holladay Park campus in Northeast Portland and will contain 79 adult and 22 adolescent beds, in addition to the ER.

"Today, the only place for individuals in crisis to get care is in medical emergency rooms," says Dr. Chris Farentinos, a Legacy psychiatrist who will be the Unity Center's first director. "Unity will bring to Portland a place where no one experiencing a mental health crisis will go untreated." NIGEL JAQUISS.

No. 16: Because soon every day will be Take Your Child to Work Day.

Glaucia Martin-Porath remembers being a new mother, forced to go back to work and spend 10 hours a day away from her children. "It felt so terrible," she says. "The system doesn't support working mothers."

So the native Brazilian, who works as a mental health therapist and educational consultant, decided to open a family-focused co-working space. That space, Women's Plaza, is likely to open this summer in the Pearl.

"Any good idea comes from struggle," she says.

The Plaza will include office space, a gym, professional development classes and, maybe most importantly, a day care center called Portland Explorers Academy, which will offer programs for infants all the way up to after-school care for older children.

The idea is to merge parenthood and work with a "holistic approach all around," according to Martin-Porath. For example, the cook who provides food for the academy will also cook meals for people using the co-working space and dinners for them to take home. And men will also be allowed to work at Women's Plaza, since the struggle of maintaining a family life while working is increasingly a male issue, too.

Spots at Women's Plaza will range in price from $150 a month to upward of $2,000, and Martin-Porath hopes to attract companies who will pay for the service to help retain employees after family leave and ease the transition for new parents back to work.

"It's so difficult for mothers to balance it all," she says, "especially in the early stages of breast feeding.

Toss out your breast pump—soon, every day will be Take Your Child to Work Day. LIZZY ACKER.

No. 17: Because Portland is finally getting the Columbia River park it deserves…in Vancouver.

Unlike Portland, which has two rivers, the suburb of Vancouver has only one. And for a century, it hasn't really been able to enjoy it. Starting in 1889, and continuing through 2006, the Couv's access to the Columbia River waterfront was blocked by a series of mills.

Finally, last summer, things changed, as the city began construction of Vancouver Waterfront Park, a 7-acre facility along the river. Plans include a cable-suspended pier that's lit up at night, which is destined to become the city's most recognizable landmark, and arguably topping anything Portland has done with its two river shores.

Oh, and the development's 35 acres will include an esplanade connecting the park to the Columbia River Renaissance Trail and Vancouver's downtown beach—something Portlanders have been working to establish on the Willamette for years, without success.

Want to grab a drink and go for a swim? Hop on the I-5. SOPHIA JUNE.


Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part I

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part II

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part III

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part IV

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part V

Reasons to Love Portland Right Now: Part VI