Occupied in Portland

[Occupy Portland, seen on November 11th]

Like other islands within the urban archipelago of the Occupied movement, Occupy Portland arrived at a critical juncture and was subsequently dismantled this past weekend.  The occupy movement has consistently demonstrated how quickly it learns and adapts.  Mistakes and improvisation seem integral to its shifting and malleable design.  And thus rather than an end, the erasure of the 2-acre camp is likely just another stage in an evolution of unique urban experiments.

What so much of the media coverage seems to miss, or to be uninterested in examining, is that although each Occupy camp shares and replicates a great deal of structural and organizational information with other occupations, each island within the movement is quite urban specific in what it is and the barrage of forces it engages.  So slipping beneath the rhetoric and the politics, here is an incomplete visual record of the physicality of Occupy Portland – both its ragged splendor and problematics – as seen just prior to it being cleared away to become something else.   Panos can be clicked on for full screen views.

[Above: aerial of the three downtown park blocks Occupy Portland occupied.  The radial pattern of Lownsdale and Chapman squares provided the organization upon which tents and provisional architectures were arranged.]

[The central squares became hubs of services and collective systems, including a library, children’s center, a cafe (no Portland intervention could survive without one), medical tent, psychological health clinic, information center and communal kitchen.  The volunteer kitchen served up to 1,500 meals a day using food donations.]

Conglomerates of provisional, plastic architecture:

[The park’s trees and light poles were used to create a nearly continuous canopy over the park as Portland’s wet fall weather commenced.  When fire marshals required that all tarps be raised 12′ above ground level, the entire thing had to be redone.]

Improvised infrastructure and waste management (created from within the occupation, and without):

And lastly, communication and the competing ensemble of messages:

[KBOO radio station broadcasting live from its tent in the park]


  1. Thank you for posting this. I haven’t really been able to visit any of the Occupy sites, as I’ve been overseas with only a brief trip home over the holidays. So I really appreciate your attention to the everyday details, documenting the fascinating internal structure of this temporary settlement.

  2. reedblueheron · ·

    Reblogged this on reedblueheron.

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