How living car-free in Portland built Steve Jobs

steveI once told a friend that car-free Portlanders are actually a small city of 20,000, hidden inside a major metropolis. If that’s the case, one of our most famous former residents died today.

I never thought I’d write a post about Steve Jobs’ death. But until tonight, I’d never read his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, in which he told a story about his life after dropping out of Reed, auditing calligraphy classes and living off the recently passed Oregon bottle bill.

I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms. I returned coke bottles for the 5-cent deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Like most of us who’ve lived car-free in this town over the last few decades, Steve wasn’t particularly political about it. But like so many of us, he was in love with the benefits: living light and cheap and doing what makes you happy.

Here’s to a metropolis where that can happen. Rest in peace, neighbor.

Creative Commons Steve Jobs desktop image by Anthony Sigalas.

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