Greetings from the Publisher, Winter 2018


What is your favorite tree? Mine is a big sprawling elm, like those that lined my street in my home town just outside Chicago. I use the past tense because Dutch Elm Disease killed all of those trees and left many of those streets without shade. This was a blow to the quality of life in our town, and illustrates the importance of urban forest management.

If you live in an urban environment, you might not think very much about forest management. But in our lead article, Sachi Arakawa describes why urban forestry management is so important to our quality of life and how the cities and towns in the Portland region manage their urban forests. Her maps show stark differences in tree canopy throughout our region, raising questions about equity and resilience to climate change.

In our Landscape, we visit the Cully neighborhood—one of the most diverse neighborhoods in our region, with over 51% people of color. The people who call Cully home are working hard with a coalition of nonprofits to improve the neighborhood and build social capital. Although they are facing gentrification pressures and the stress of rising rents, they are taking steps to keep the neighborhood affordable for its diverse and lower income communities.

Oregon’s land use planning system is known nationwide for its effectiveness in protecting farmland for development. But the story of how we use our farmland is a little more nuanced. In the Atlas, Nick Chun provides maps and data from a study of the nonagricultural uses of land designated exclusive farm use and discusses the relevant policy issues.

Portland State University has recently experienced a change of leadership. Dr. Rahmat Shoureshi was named president by PSU’s Board of Regents and began work on August 1, 2017. Our interview with President Shoureshi gives you an opportunity to get to know him and provides insights into his vision for the university’s future.

Population growth in our region puts pressure on its infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and schools. This issue’s back anchor explains the process that school districts use to keep up with shifting school enrollments that cause schools to be over or under enrolled. These processes—such as changes in attendance areas—can be very controversial. Meeting the goals of enrollment balancing while reducing conflicts with parents can be incredibly difficult. In “The Balancing Act,” Madison Levy and I discuss the policy issues and explore some ideas for reducing conflict.

We hope you enjoy our first issue of 2018. As you read through the articles, share your thoughts with us. Feel free to comment at, or discuss your observations about the articles on our Facebook page.

Sheila Martin

Director, Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies