Portland, Oregon. I’m still too new in this city to write anything that wouldn’t make the natives’ eyes roll. There is so much to love here, from renowned coffee and local breweries to outdoor hiking and used book stores. And if you’ve watched even one episode of the satirical documentary “Portlandia” you’ll know there’s a lot of weird, beautiful, hilarious idiosyncrasies here. (“Portlandia” isn’t technically a documentary, but I’d argue that it is. This would provoke another eyeroll.) Portland has a culture that’s very unique, and the bumper stickers and signs around town stating, “Keep Portland Weird” let you know this city is proud of it. While there are many aspects of the city that people outside of it would consider weird, see Stark’s Vacuum Museum, I’d say that is its biggest draw as well.
A city doesn’t grow this from the draw of Darth Vadar riding a unicycle playing bagpipes, (which happens regularly) but from the culture that not only allows this behavior but encourages it.
And without explaining something that I’m too new to understand, my biggest takeaway so far is that this attitude primarily comes from one thing: People here are really nice.
I first visited here in 2013, and everyone asked me when I got back what I thought of Portland. The biggest takeaway was people are just so friendly. I had long interesting conversations with complete strangers after getting a smile on the street. While not a foreign concept in my life, this environment seemed refreshing. Even at the time I thought, I don’t know what it is about the city, but I could live there one day. Because, really, what’s the most basic thing people want out of a community other than the people there being kind?
There’s seemingly endless writing about what makes a business successful, and one google search is full of ‘top 10 lists to get ahead in your career.’ Whether you’re a designer, editor, marketing specialist, banker or cook, all the advice boils down to one simple thing: People want to work with people who are nice.
Of course, skill, expertise and hundreds of other factors go into this, especially in the creative industry. You can find people with incredible creative talent, but if they don’t follow that one small piece of advice, be nice, every experience working with them will be unenjoyable for everyone involved, and your product will suffer.
So, my biggest takeaway in cities and video production: find people who are kind, who are willing to hazard a smile for strangers on a street, and stick with them–because who knows how great things could be.