Earlier this month I sat with several friends at a sidewalk table at a coffee shop just south of downtown Portland. The scene was nearly identical – same businesses, same kind of traffic, human and vehicular – as when we’d met in the same place several years before. It looked friendly, prosperous and safe.

I remarked that I’ve heard of concern from people outside Oregon about wandering into that super-dangerous city of Portland, reflecting an image that the city was at best slowly recovering from its status as a burned-out shell, a reinvention of 1982-era Beirut.

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