Monday, May 10, 2010

Free Blog!

This weekend I noticed two kids who’d set up a lemonade stand on my street, and, by my own account, they were working harder at their business than I have at mine in the last month. The price for a cup of lemonade: Pay what you want.  

It’s so Portland.  

In many ways, this town is like the land of the free: There’s free music, free yoga and a huge free outdoor gym. Throw in easy access to really cheap and delicious food and you can cultivate a social life in Portland on very little money. 

More than 400 food carts dot the city, and cheap, accessible eats draw a cool hipster crowd on any given day. And we’re not talking about your typical hot dog fare either, though you can still order your favorite burrito, taco, or falafel. But behind a lot of these food carts are budding chefs creating signature dishes for just a few bucks. As I strolled along the large selection of carts in downtown Portland this week, it was hard to decide what to get. Finally, I settled on the Super Falafel because the guy who made them told me this would be the best falafel I ever had. He promised if I didn’t like it I could come back everyday for a month and get a free meal from his cart.  

Lucky for him, I loved the Super Falafel. It was fresh, tasty, and filled my belly for under $6.

Another amazing Portland freebie is this town’s vibrant live music scene. A music-producer friend who lives in California recently said that he thinks the best scene for music right now is, in fact, the city I’ve adopted. I couldn’t agree more. Music is everywhere and it’s home to some amazing musicians.  

And while you can find free music in a lot of cities it seems to be in abundance in Portland.  

There’s nothing like catching the roots rock and old country blues sounds of the Lewi Longmire Band at the Laurelthirst Pub’s happy hour every week. Longmire is a New Mexico native who now calls Portland home, and I discovered him through a friend. Every time I’ve seen him, Longmire’s playing another free show. I wonder how a musician can sustain himself by playing gratis every week, but then I eyeballed the band’s stuffed tip jar at one of his shows. It’s obvious that folks around here really appreciate their music. “Portland people tend to give,” Longmire said between sets.

As I head into month ten of living in the Pacific Northwest I see the value of what Portland has to offer. This city allows me to build a social life, make new friends and eat great food all within a reasonable budget. You can’t ask for more than that. And it has me thinking that setting up a little lemonade stand in a place where people tend to support indy enterprises isn’t such a bad business idea after all. 

((please hit play button to watch video))

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