Sometimes you need to learn from others
Tomorrow a group of the Fiesta family will be traveling to Portland, OR to attend the Portland Rose Festival, a citywide festival not quite as large as Fiesta San Antonio but similar in many ways. For me, it’s both a chance to enjoy the great city of Portland and to learn how they do sustainability and recycling. You see, the Portland Rose Festival is one the greenest festivals in the nation. So when the opportunity arose this year, I jumped at it and decided to travel with the Fiesta team to Portland. Not only will I be observing but I volunteered to help with the parade clean-up, knowing the best way to learn is to get your hands dirty, literally. However, I’m starting to discover that there’s much more to this festival than just being a green one. Portland seems to have a different outlook on life and fun, in a way that really kind of makes me want to bring some of it back to San Antonio.
During the visit I also plan to get a good understanding of the city’s streetcar and light rail system, TriMet. It’s considered one of the best in the nation and a model for other cities. Several from San Antonio have made trips to Portland to look at their system and culture but I’m not sure they’ve dug into the core of the system. You can bet I’m going to find out more, starting with our trip from the airport.
We’ll be riding TriMet in to our hotels, both right on the Red Line, and probably throughout the weekend at various times. I’ve taken public transit in from the Atlanta airport and found it to be actually pretty reasonable. At the time it saved USAA about $40 in cab fares and turned out to be quicker during rush hour. Let’s see how Portland’s system operates.
We’ll be hosted by the Royal Rosarians, the year round ambassadors of the City of Portland. When they attended Fiesta 2012 I built some good relationships with several of their members. In fact, they are setting up a meeting for me with the mayor’s office to discuss sustainability in Portland. Not only are they hosting us, they have invited us to several really cool functions, including the knighting of our new Fiesta president, Marilyn Eldridge, as an honorary member. The ceremony will take place in Washington Park followed by the Queen’s Garden Party. It’s great to have such a hospitable group to help make your visit that much more enjoyable.
One thing I’ve learned about the Portland Rose Festival is that they teach sustainability at an early age, using the Junior Parade as an opportunity to help teach children the importance of recycling and waste management. Just like they do for the Grand Floral Parade, bags are handed out to children to collect recyclables during the parade.
That’s something that makes a lot of sense and may become a part of our program. As many of you might remember, my best moments of Fiesta 2012 were when I came across very young children picking up plastic bottles ON THEIR OWN and putting them in the yellow recycling bags. The photo of the young brother and sister will always stick in my mind.
Hopefully I’ll be able to update the blog from Portland and provide updates. It’s time to get this thing current again and maybe the Rose Festival will be that impetus. Regardless, I’ll provide a full recap when I get back, both here and in my new column in Plaza de Armas. Yes, I’m now a regular columnist for them, which is such a great opportunity for me.