I Live Here: Kirsten Collins

Name & Age: Kirsten Collins, 29

Hometown: Modesto, CA

Current Neighborhood: Mississippi

How do you pay the rent and what is your slash? Grant writer

What do you create? Gifts, lately.

How did you land in Portland? I went to college at Lewis & Clark. When I graduated, I fully intended to move back to California. But graduation was the first week of May, and I decided to stay and finish out the month of rent. The weather was awesome, and I spent a lot of that time on porches with friends, biking around, going to concerts, and exploring new neighborhoods. I decided to stay for the summer and see if I could get a job in an arts organization or other nonprofit. If I could support myself by September, I’d stay. If not, I’d move to San Francisco and start afresh. That August, I started my first “real” job, at Literary Arts, and have stayed ever since.

What is the last book you read? Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women, a first book of short stories by Mary Rechner.

Name your favorite tattoo. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of tattoos.

What was the last thing you ate at a food cart? The seasonal special breakfast sandwich at the Big Egg. Delicious! Had to get one last sandwich in before they go on winter break.

Oregonian, Willamette Week, or Mercury? Willamette Week.

What is your favorite bridge and why? Fremont. It has my favorite views, and I love biking over it during Bridge Pedal.

Stumptown Coffee or _________? My current favorites are Ristretto and Café Umbria.

Coast or Mountains? Coast in the winter, Mountains in the summer.

Only in Portland moment? Walking into a coffeeshop or party, not expecting to see anyone you know, and finding that practically the whole room is connected to you through one or at most two degrees of separation.

A favorite local business? The independent business community really defines Portland for me. One of my favorites is Wallflowers Salon. In some ways it’s like any other salon. You sit in a chair, wear a black smock, and get a haircut. But it’s also unlike any other salon. Brianna, the owner and sole stylist, epitomizes the Portland entrepreneur for me because she’s taken something typical and made it completely and uniquely her own–from the gentle music on her ipod, to the “best of the drugstore” products, to her handmade look books, to the tiny space, to the fact that she’s one of about three people who have my cell phone number memorized. I love that Portland is filled with business owners that are committed to creating a truly special experience that exceeds and redefines your expectations of what a salon (or grocery store, or boutique, or carpenter) can be.

Are you a car person or a bike person? Bike person, within reason.

If you could change one thing about Portland, what would it be? It can get a little too precious.

Tell us a story about Portland and you. After I had lived here fulltime for a couple years, I took a trip to Ireland. In Galway, I stayed in a hostel and palled around with a mismatched group of other travelers for a few days. One person I remember in particular, an older, slightly eccentric Irish fellow with long red hair and a floppy hat, is the only person I’ve met while traveling who had not only heard of my hometown of Modesto, but had actually been there and was totally delighted by the place.

Now, Modesto is notorious for having the most per capita of lots of bad things: pedestrian deaths, fast food restaurants, teen pregnancy, meth labs, house foreclosures, as well as the fewest college degrees per capita. Despite this, it was actually a great place to grow up. But the typical response to “I’m from Modesto,” was either a) “huh.” or b) “oh, I think I drove through there once,” coupled with a look of distaste.

Modesto is also a huge agricultural producer. And this Irish fellow was from a long lineage of Irish farmers. He went on and on and on about Modesto’s rich, fertile soil, and how amazing it had felt falling through his fingers.

Then I explained that while I grew up in Modesto, I now lived in Portland, Oregon. He was not so familiar with Portland, so I proceeded to tell him all about the city’s most per capita of nice things: library circulation, independent bookstores, coffee shops, micro-breweries, etc. I described the awesome public transit system, bike community, the friendly and creative people, the independent music scene, and on and on. He looked at me, with sincere, wise eyes, and said, “you really love Portland, don’t you.”

And that’s when I knew. I had truly fallen in love with this city. I love it more and more each year, and the more places I travel the happier I am to call Portland home.

And finally, where can we find you on the web?



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