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Keeping Portland (and Austin) Weird


Keep Portland Weird is our city motto and it identifies both our attitudes and independence from conventional thought. Indeed, Portland exemplifies weirdness, and does so proudly. Whether it’s our Naked Bicycle Ride, our Pub Crawls, our haunted Shanghai tunnels, or our famous cart-dominated food scene, Portlanders fully embrace the idea of being weird, even if we admire these activities without engaging in them (the Naked Bicycle Ride in particular).

  • Darth Vader

If you come from the Austin, Texas vicinity however, you might feel a certain sense of frustration with Portland’s motto, and for good reason. Portland stole Austin’s motto and made it their own. In 2003, Music Millennium owner Terry Currier came back from Austin and brought the motto with him. (Music Millennium is a cool old-school music store, btw. Check it out.)
Austin’s frustrations aside, the motto aptly fits Portland. It may fit Portland even more than it fits Austin?

So, while Portland took this motto and ran with it, we seemed to have kept an eye on Austin to see what they were up to next. In doing so, we also “borrowed” Austin’s famous South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) repackaged it in Portland as the Music Fest Northwest (MFNW) and called it our own. Micro-distilleries found their way into Portland’s heart as well, long after Austin neatly carved out a niche of their own.

But instead of getting frustrated with Portland, it appears that Austin appreciates Portland’s imitation, and may even be flattered by it. In fact, it would seem that Austin has reciprocated in kind by taking some things from Portland. Craft brew anyone?

One could argue Portland and Austin are sister cities. We share cultural, geographical and political traits that align our two metropolitans in unintentional ways. If we keep borrowing and sharing these great ideas, I say borrow away, and enjoy!