I Live Here: Jen Turner

I Live Here: Jen Turner

Name & Age: Jen Turner, age 26

Hometown: Forest Grove, OR

Current Neighborhood: Northwest/Nob Hill

How do you pay the rent and what is your slash? Being the new Community Coordinator for New Seasons Market’s Arbor Lodge store pays the bills, and now I get to know what it feels like to be excited and thrilled for work every day. I’m also in graduate school at PSU, meandering towards my Master of Urban Studies. What ought to take two years will surely take me five, given how easily distracted I am.

What do you create? Hopefully: Immensely diverse connections between Portlanders and the food they love, frequent attempts at mending the terrible discord between people across the color/class/community spectrums and their perceptions of sustainable, organic food, coherent research proposals surrounding these wonderfully complicated ideas.

In reality: A seriously delicious (and as arguably authentic as a native Oregonian can probably pull off) seafood gumbo.

How did you land in Portland? I grew up in Oregon, first Newport and then Forest Grove for high school (which entailed many MAX-supported adventures into “the city” for mildly illicit teenage behavior). Something compelled me to leave for college-and-then-some, so I spent seven years in Washington, DC before realizing that graduate school was an excellent reason to come home. I returned in May 2009 and have been happily learning what a fun town Portland is now that I’m over 21.

What is the last book you read? Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Butter & Bones was my first nonacademic read of 2011, on a recent whirlwind trip from Vegas to DC to NYC to the south Jersey shore. Her beautifully candid voice carried me for each leg of the journey and renewed my deep love for food as it embeds itself in all of our memories. I don’t think I’ve related to a piece of writing as much as I have to hers in a long time.

Name your favorite tattoo. In a land of SO MANY gorgeous tattoos, it’s impossible to say. I’m really fixated on all the great chef tattoos, most specifically those of my friend Aaron. He’s decked out in the kind of narrative-building ink that I totally admire and (if it weren’t for money and nerve) would readily coat myself in.

What was the last thing you ate at a food cart? I had an especially tasty spicy chicken salad with sticky rice at Yum Zap on Belmont the other day. Hooked on Khao Man Gai too!

Oregonian, Willamette Week, or Mercury? I’ll flip through all three if there’s a leftover copy in the break room at work, but I’m more of an online absorber of information – and at that point, I’ll cultivate it from nearly anywhere. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be the Mercury.

What is your favorite bridge and why? I’ll be pragmatic and say the Fremont Bridge, because I seem to cross it the most and it rarely lets me down. I used to be sort of scared/intimidated by the perennial favorite, the St. Johns, when I was a kid. Go figure.

Stumptown Coffee or _________? Stumptown! One swig of a Stubbie and I knew that no matter what Stumptown was or was not becoming, I could never waver in my love for their brews. The fact that there are a million things we could plug into that blank proves that we’re so spoiled in Portland.

Coast or Mountains? Coast, absolutely. I’ve always said that my ‘comfort zone’ is 55-60 degrees and drizzly, which can always, always be found before 10 am on the coast, no matter what time of year. I grew up going to Camp Westwind on the coast, and worked there for years and years once I outgrew my camper status, and I’m pretty sure that cemented my desperate affection for the Oregon coast. There’s literally nowhere like it on earth.

Only in Portland moment? Why, just today I saw a man on rollerblades with a dog strapped to his back. Both had helmets.

A favorite local business? Really an impossible question. Every favorite restaurant, cafe, bookstore, everything. It’s everywhere. New Seasons Market (naturally) is such an impressive feat in what the spirit of localism can look like to a certain scale.

Are you a car person or a bike person? Deepest, darkest secret? I don’t know how to ride a bike, and not for lack of trying. Can I still live here?

If you could change one thing about Portland, what would it be? I love this place (my home!) with all my heart and know that it is a really unique and challenging breeding ground for ideas, innovation, and progress. Yet I do worry that there is a special beast of elitism and entitlement that grow with this town’s ‘hipster cred’ (kind of a baffling notion all together) that’ll prevent it from really achieving the greatness that it deserves.

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

A few very poorly-kept social media outlets is about all that I have for now:



I Live Here: Jen Turner

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