Portland stars in PBS Earth Day documentary
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Portland's transportation infrastructure — and its love affair with the bicycle — plays a starring role in a new documentary about climate change and renewable energy. Click on the image to see other stills from "Energy Quest USA."
A documentary on climate change and renewable energy will air on public television stations on April 22, Earth Day, and feature Portland as one of five places in the U.S. that's setting an example.
"Energy Quest USA" will premier Sunday on PBS stations, along with "Powering the Planet," a look at global renewable energy projects. Both programs are a follow-up to "Earth: The Operators' Manual," a 2011 documentary, which will also be showing on some stations.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, "Energy Quest USA" travels the country looking for inspiring stories of groups taking matters of energy security and climate change concern and translating it into action.
The Portland segment, called "The trip not taken," focuses on transportation. It features interviews with Portland Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer — filmed in his trademark bowtie with a bike propped up against the desk in the background — Mayor Sam Adams, Susan Anderson, director of the city's Bureau of Sustainability and Planning, and George Beard, Portland State University professor and electric vehicle expert, among others.
The documentary's earnest tone as it discusses Portland's urban growth boundary, transit planning and love affair with bikes, treads dangerously close to Portlandia-spoof territory at times. But there's no denying it's good PR for the city.
A section on the Oregon Manifest bike-design competition pushes the city's DIY-culture front and center, while an interview with B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery's founder, Franklin Jones, shows off the city's scrappy entrepreneurial spirit. And the nod to the city's electric vehicle infrastructure and the living lab that is Portland State University's Electric Avenue shows an area where the city is out in front.
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