Salem, Where is it Headed?

A reader of the Eat Salem blog was saying to me recently that he thought that Salem lacked an identity. Salem is so diverse and spread out that there isn't a common focus or a strong defined center that would act as the heart of the city. The perception of our town, from Portland, is that Salem is not as nice a place to live as other cities. Why would they think that? We have more open spaces, less traffic, shorter commutes, a cleaner part of the river, less crowds, more affordable housing, etc. Maybe the word hasn't gotten out about Salem yet? Even our own residents think our city is headed in the wrong direction. In a recent online poll on this blog, a large majority of our readers feel that Salem is headed in the wrong direction.
right direction
2 (12%)
wrong direction
12 (75%)
not sure
2 (12%)
What do you think? Why is Salem headed in the wrong direction? What is Salem's identity? What do we need to do to improve our image? Comment now.


Anonymous said...

Salem is turning into little mexico. I'd say thats about as bad a direction as you can get.

Anonymous said...

Only without the tourist destination.

jeff said...

Kick the state government out and Salem would be a nice little city. :) Otherwise, yeah, it's turning into Little Mexico and that's definitely the wrong direction.

KandN said...

{Oh gosh! Don't kick us state employees out! We already had to leave one town we loved!}
I wish we could have some leadership in Salem that would work to involve all the great varied groups that have ideas for the city. We need to chart all the good stuff there is here and work on improving/maintaining those things. I feel like there had been good leadership in Salem before we arrived 16 years ago, with a good vision for the future, but with so many people and monetary hard times the goals were set aside and now lost.
One of the things I appreciate about Salem, is the abundance of amateur music groups. Not small ensembles, but big adult bands. Not every city our size has that.
I'd enjoy hearing what people LIKE about Salem.

Morgan said...

"We have more open spaces, less traffic, shorter commutes, a cleaner part of the river, less crowds, more affordable housing, etc."

Totally right. Portland stinks, in my opinion, and I'm not about to start inviting their populace down this way.

I heard one of the new Delta pilots on the shuttle talking about how much better it is down here, and how he is looking to move here instead of the metro area.

The government buildings and the closed up downtown on weekends do blow. But between Minto Brown, the river front park, the light traffic, go ahead and take Portland and the sewage they pump into the Willamette.

A friend and I actually tubed Mill Creek this summer. Right through town, it was great. Between Eugene and Salem, now I don't even have to go to Portland to fly. Paradise.

Anonymous said...

Little Mexico? Y'know, without any follow up or explanation, that comes across as a more than a little ignorant. Geez,you honestly have only one minority group in Salem and even that seems too hard for you to wrap you little brain around

Anonymous said...

Wow- how much more overtly racist can one little thread get!??!!
A little history lesson:
Portland isn't so great, in terms of civil rights. Portland's "great shame" is the history of KKK/anti "black" involvement in city politics and school board governance. This has had a negative influence on how the city has grown, and literally, become a shame on the city that prides itself in being "progressive' (see the documentary called "Northwest Passage").

So Salem folks, if you really think you're "above" Portland, or want to set yourself apart from Portland, why don't you try to be a little less racist? I really want to have a personal conversation with you "little Mexico" comment folks. Seriously. I'll buy you margs and tacos.

Anonymous said...

Salem needs more jobs that will draw younger professionals. We need to attract more people in their 20's and 30's, then you will see better nightlife and restaurants.

Anonymous said...

More twentysomethings and thirtysomethings? Absolutely. Catering the direction of an entire city towards the narrow opinions of soccer moms and middle age christians is not the way for Salem to flourish. They've had control of this city for as long as I've been around, and managed to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

im 23 and i am looking into moving to salem, however the "little mexico" comments do rub me the wrong way. i live in los angeles and the mexican culture is one of the things i love about LA, however i hae the wanna-be actors, and the plastic facade everyone seems to have. also i want more greenery, so im thinking oregon is the way to go. and i was looking at housing prices and you guys seem to be cheap, so...

Anonymous said...

here's the easiest way to see if Salem is right for you. I came from Long Beach a little over 4 years ago and grew up in San Diego so I know of which I speak.


My fiance thought he'd love it here in Oregon but has found out that he is a sun person. Never knew it living most of his life in SoCal, so he didn't know any different. The sun is rare here and the winters are extremely cold and THERE IS TONS OF RAIN plus it has snowed every year since we've been here. People suffering from depression due to the overcast skies is a real thing. I live with one of them. Granted, I LOVE it here. But we will end up moving back down to San Diego in the future because he can't take the cold and lack of sun much longer.

There's always more than lower prices to consider when your thinking of moving somewhere. And compared to Cali, almost anywhere else has lower prices. Hope this helps.

KandN said...

anonymous in LA, Please don't think badly of our entire population due to a few comments. Salem has much to offer and we're working hard in many different ways to become even better.
As far as the climate goes you can check our Blue Book for information.

Anonymous said...

Salem needs to focus on keeping the character of their close-in neighborhoods, and encourage young professionals (and state workers alike) to move, work, and live here. Salem has great, small neighborhoods with charming and well-kept historic homes -- more people should move from the suburbs and take part of these great areas. Salem also needs to encourage small, local businesses, and not big-box stores or restaurant chains, to move into town by providing incentives. Capitalize on the "Go Local" movement, invest in your older buildings, and in youth.

Lise M said...

We need TV stations and/or radio. This is one major item that Salem does not have that is keeping local events and business from drawing more of Salem in. People always say Salem is boring, but its just because the things that go on here that are cool and interesting either have a small following from not getting the word out or they ideas peter out from lack of participation. ITs sad. Right now we only have a couple local newspapers and the internet. BTW, if you want to get involved in making Salem more interesting check out these face book groups.

Salem Creative Network
Culture Shock Community Project
Salem City Repair

Anonymous said...

If we could develop a movement to boycott the big box stores - Walmart, Target, Costco..etc and buy local, our economy would soar. Sure toilet paper and shoes would cost more buying local, but the financial impact of doing so would reverberate back and our local economies would blossom. Higher wages, more living wage jobs, health/retirement benefits, more local taxes paid, more money for local infrastructure and schools - all of these are lost in the short sighted "buy cheap" Walmart mentality. I say buy smart. Support your neighbor.

Anonymous said...

Some sort of even semi-progressive Urban Growth Boundary/Zoning would be great for the city. That'll never happen as long as Janet "Urban Sprawl" Taylor is in office though

Anonymous said...

I moved here from Portland (and have lived in San Diego and LA) and the thing I wish Salem had more of was a night life. The bars are either dives, chains, or clubs. Thank the maker for Salem Cinema, otherwise there would be no decent place to watch a decent movie. The food scene is generic (to be fair, I have not been to the pricier places). Commercial/Liberty are a traffic cesspool of disgustingness (as is Lancaster). Downtown has potential, but there too much boarded up. And I hate it when I try to grab a bite to eat from Venti's only to learn they're closed on Sundays. WTF?

Also, why are there no decent grocers? Lifesource is ok, but way overpriced. No co-ops? No year-round farmers market? This is the middle of the most fertile region in Oregon and I have to buy imported lettuce at Safeway? Killing me!

tl;dr: too many corporate cookie-cutter stores, not enough interesting night life

KandN said...

Anon, Our nightlife has had it's ups and downs over the years. Have you checked out Copperjohn's or The Space? I heard Tuff Ranch BBQ had a band and quite a crowd last Saturday.
I'm curious as to what food places you've tried and what you consider pricier restaurants? Also, we do have a year round public market - Salem Public Market
I'm glad you wrote to give others a chance to share.