Hales’ Legacy and Perils of Prosperity

Excerpt from Can Mayor Hales Jump the Shark and Lead Portland to the Promised Land? by Dr. Bruce Stephenson

Charlie Hales
Charlie Hales

… Cutthroat real estate speculation brought the country to the edge of economic collapse in both the Great Depression and the Great Recession. A skilled technocrat, Hales is the one person who can ensure that a new comprehensive plan will direct development for a future population (expected to grow by 200,000 in the next twenty years) on lines that will procure sustainability, equity and profit. There is a unique moral dimension at play in Portland, and Hales’ ability to navigate the perils of prosperity will play to a much larger audience than the city’s 660,000 residents.

This summer the Mayor attended the Vatican summit on climate change. Portland is a prototype of the Promised Land Pope Francis envisions, a city where carbon is in remission and nature is ascendant. Portland remains a work in progress, and reaching the Promised Land requires a leader who must convince citizens not to worship the Golden Calf. Has a Portland Mayor ever had a greater exit?

Dr. Bruce Stephenson is Rollins College Environmental Studies professor, his research and teaching reveal how history informs the intersection of regional planning, sustainability, and urbanism.  See his study of the North Park Blocks here.

Image credit: Charlie Hales in 2011 By Steve Morgan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0


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