Serious As A Heart Attack About the Lisa Simpson Bridge

Steve Novick

Am I serious about the Lisa Simpson Bridge? You bet. Serious as a heart attack.

When the Tribune’s Peter Korn first called me, I initially told him that my favorite was Ursula LeGuin (I think I said “Ged the Archmage can whip Harry Potter any day of the week”). But then I acknowledged that ideally, the bridge should be named after a female (there are enough things named after men) environmentalist (because the bike / pedestrian / transit bridge embodies our environmental values). LeGuin meets the first criterion, but she’s not especially identified with environmentalism. And then it hit me, like a bolt from the blue: the most prominent environmentalist with Portland roots is, by a country mile, Lisa Simpson, created by Portland’s own Matt Groening.

Lisa’s environmental credentials are impeccable. Here’s a sample of her comments on global warming:

"There is no Springfield 50 years in the future! With global warming trapping the CO2 inside our poisonous atmosphere, our super-heated oceans will rise, drowning our lowlands, leaving what’s left of humanity baking in desert that once fed the world. And in the new Nineveh, darkness falls."

HOMER: Gee, Lisa, looks like tomorrow, I’ll be shoveling 10 feet of global warming. LISA: Global warming can cause weather at both extremes, hot and cold.

Then, during this last Tuesday’s City budget work session, my commitment to the idea was reinforced. A State economist gave us a fascinating presentation on the state of Portland’s economy, and he told us that Portland continues to attract highly educated young people from all over the place. He said that’s of critical importance to the future of our economy.

And why does Portland attract so many educated young people from all over? Economist Joe Cortright says they’re drawn by Portland’s quirky, progressive image. In fact, that’s Joe’s argument for the streetcar as an economic development tool: Being the first city to bring back streetcars enhanced our quirky, progressive image.

Well, I can’t think of anything that could do more to underscore our quirky, progressive image than naming the new TriMet bridge after Lisa Simpson. And … with all due respect to Mayor Hales, Congressman Blumenauer, and the streetcar itself … as an economic development strategy, naming a bridge after Lisa Simpson has one big advantage over building a streetcar: Brad Schmidt can’t possibly write 546,383 articles about how much it costs. Because it doesn’t cost anything.

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