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Portland : Chaos and communal life

"Journal from the City" is a report on the city by Chignitta contributors around the world.

In this issue, we will look back again at the "lockdown" caused by COVID-19 which we first faced in the spring of 2020, from each city.

I've been friends with Katsu since 2001, and he was the first gallerist to introduce digmeout to the US. I learned a lot about the city's community and connections through him. We asked him to report on this.


Katsu Tanaka (PDX)

He has been living in Portland, North America for over a quarter of a century and his tattoo count is only growing.

He runs a street fashion boutique (, a resale boutique (, a brand that uses Japanese fabrics with a motto of recycling and Japanese wasteful culture (, and various businesses that connect Japanese companies with Portland creatives (, a company that connects Japanese companies with Portland creatives. He recently bought a piece of land in the mountains near Portland and started living in a commune.


Mr. Taniguchi, it's been a while.

Write something! So, since Japanese people are not allowed to go in and out of the U.S. right now, I'd like to write a little bit about the current situation in the U.S. (the U.S. is a big country, so I'd like to write about the current situation on the West Coast as a whole, or based on the state of Oregon where Portland is located).

Portland is a fairly liberal city in the US, so I think COVID-19 was dealt with quickly. However, when the lockdown was announced on the 15th of March, I don't think many people thought it would last long.

I remember us store owners talking about how we would go out of business if it lasted longer than two weeks. I don't think most store owners, including myself, were expecting the lockdown to last for three months. But I think the feeling of "No way" was stronger than the feeling of "It's impossible.

Four months have already passed since then (August at the time of writing), and downtown Portland has changed a lot since then. It's crazy how much things can change in a few months, and it makes me sad every time I see it, even though I come downtown to work every day. Most of the stores downtown are still boarded up like this, and Target downtown has suffered a lot of damage.

The place where my store (compound) used to be is still boarded up.

Even though the announcement of Phase 1 (stores and other facilities being unlocked) was made last month, I'd say less than 30% of the stores are open now. After all, the impact of COVID-19 was significant, but I think the impact of the Black Lives Matter riots was too massive. Most of the stores, including my own, were looted. Since there were no police to come out to stop the riots, which were based on police violence, most small business owners, myself included, stood in front of their stores and protected their shops from the riots. The looting of the Apple and Nike stores, which were not privately owned, was almost as if there was a war going on and all the merchandise was being looted.

The main windows of my store compound were all destroyed.

And even after 50 days of this Blak Lives Matter riot, there are still many protesters gathering in downtown Portland. In particular, thousands of people gather daily around the Federal Building Courthouse Building in downtown Portland, where the federal government's Army is at a standstill. And this state of affairs is not likely to end anytime soon.

Graffiti and damage to federal buildings

Protesters who oppose the federal government insist that the federal government withdraw, and the federal government insists that the protesters be tempered and dismantled. The number of protesters arguing for withdrawal increases with the number of federal armies, and the federal armies continue to increase with the number of protesters. I don't think this is a "problem" to be solved, but a paradox without a solution. There is no common sense conversation or way to communicate solutions anymore.

Protests continue every day

They are all unconsciously building a wall of separation between themselves and those who are not on the side of the good things that they are doing. And it seems that many of them don't even realize it. And isn't this wall of separation in our brains basically the same as the wall that used to separate us based on the color of our skin? I feel that what we need to do now is to reduce these barriers in our brains.

Since last summer, I've been living on a piece of land and a house in the mountains, about an hour's drive from Portland. The water supply is well water, and the wastewater is a recycled system. With the help of various friends who come to support us full or part time, we are building a field, a dome for gathering, and a tee pee, while cultivating the land and raising chickens and ducks for a self-sufficient life based on Perma Culture.

Last year, we planted a large plot of land (about 6 acres?) deep in the mountains.

or so? When I bought the land last year, I was worried about whether I would be able to develop this land while working as a president in Portland. I was filled with worry. And no one I talked to said, "Why?" "No way, he's really not going to buy it.” However, I felt an unshakeable and unfounded conviction in other opinions. Since last summer, I've been gradually cultivating the area, and my friends have been increasing little by little. And this year, with the lockdown of COVID-19, social distance, and its strong influence, most companies have adopted remote work. I think less than 10% of the workforce now goes to the office to work.

This lifestyle has become the norm for me. Many friends who used to be able to come only on weekends are now coming to support us on weekdays or staying for a few weeks, thanks to the remote work. I'm currently in the process of building a geodesic dome deck in the forest. When I lived in the city, I used to wake up to the increasing sound of cars, but now I wake up to the light of the sunrise and the sound of chickens and birds in my garden. I used to move my body mechanically at the gym or yoga, but here I get good exercise every day just plowing the fields and building trails.

Mr. Takeshi Yoro once said that the wall that separates the man-made and the natural is the wall between the world where things would be like this if you do that and the world where things won't be like this even if you do that. I'm going to immerse myself in the world where things don't turn out this way even if I try, and try to remove the various walls that separate us.


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