Book Review: Newcomer's Handbook to Portland
One of our travel guides partners is Newcomer's Handbooks - and they are incredible guides to moving to and living in a variety of new cities. What a wonderful concept - and as we've found from author interviews (USA, Washington, DC) and perusing them, incredibly useful guides. The Newcomer's Handbooks focus on neighborhoods, communities, services, education, transportation, green living, and more. One of their best Newcomer's Handbooks is the Newcomer's Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Portland. This treasure-trove of Portland information is written by Bryan Geon, a lawyer, author of several books, and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School.
Portland, Oregon is a wonderful city - full of interesting neighborhoods, excellent food, great history, and lovely scenery. Enviable are the ones who get to MOVE to Portland! We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Brian about his book, which advises said newcomers to Portland. Here's what he had to say...
WE: Please tell us about your book, the Newcomer's Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Portland...
BG: The Newcomer's Handbook, as the title rather strongly suggests, is a guide for people who have moved or plan to move to the Portland area. Unlike traditional travel guides, it features extensive descriptions of Portland neighborhoods as well as suburban communities. These descriptions are intended to inform prospective residents, so while the book naturally includes areas that a tourist would be interested in, I also discuss the less-visited neighborhoods and communities that most Portlanders call home. Beyond the neighborhood descriptions, the book has chapters on everything from moving, finding a place to live, and getting settled to transportation, weather (no, it doesn't always rain), and the local cultural and recreational landscape. One thing the book lacks is a restaurant guide. Besides the fact that the dining scene is in constant flux, it would really require a second book to cover Portland restaurants in detail. If someone out there wants to give me a fat expense account, I'd be happy to write such a book.
WE: What led to your interest/background in Portland?
BG: I first moved to Portland in 1993, and I love the place. I have moved away several times for various reasons (law school, jobs), but I have always returned. Despite my multiple departures, I've actually lived in Portland for a solid decade, all told. Since I have moved (back) to Portland so often, and have lived in so many parts of the city, I consider myself an expert on being a newcomer. I have the routine down, anyway.
WE: Your research for this book must have been fun! What were the highlights?
BG: The best part of the research was getting to explore some parts of the metropolitan area, particularly outlying communities, that I hadn't spent a lot of time in before. The region is filled with a lot of little gems -- parks, historic buildings, natural areas, farms -- that aren't well known except to nearby residents. I also enjoyed talking with people about their neighborhoods and what they did (or didn't) like about them.
WE: Do you still discover new places, in Portland? Or, are you busy exploring old favorites?
BG: There are always new places to discover in and around Portland, even in areas I thought I knew pretty well. The moods of each place change over the seasons, too; a spot that has a certain feel in summer may seem very different under the gray skies of winter. I have two kids in grade school, so what I'm enjoying most is exploring the city with children, which is a very different experience for me than poking around for the first time as a twenty-something college grad.
WE: Portland is such a vibrant city - what are your personal favorite places to frequent?
BG: One of the great things about Portland is that it is truly a city of neighborhoods. Travel articles tend to focus on downtown Portland and the Pearl District -- the latter is a former industrial district that is now filled with lofts and trendy restaurants -- but my favorite places are the small-scale, prewar neighborhood shopping districts with lots of street life: Sellwood, the Belmont and Hawthorne strips, Beaumont Village, Multnomah Village, Northwest Portland, North Mississippi, and many others.
In terms of actual establishments, I like good bread, and Portland has some outstanding bakeries -- Ken's, St. Honore, Grand Central, and my "local," Baker & Spice, to name a few. And Stumptown Coffee Roasters serves up some of the best coffee in the world.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
BG: Come visit Portland! I'd suggest July or August.
WE: Thanks so much, Bryan! Your book is an incredible resource and a definite must for people moving to the Portland area.