Friday, September 5, 2008

Today I went to Europe...

Yes. It's true. I took a walking tour of Tilburg, the sixth largest city in The Netherlands. Khris Soden was our guide. I was amazed at the similarities between Portland and Tilburg and also how easy it was for me to drift away and feel like I really was in this European province of Noord-Brabant. I have to say this is all thanks to Mr. Soden. I was so captivated by what he had to say that I didn't really need to look around (which I think helped, because then I was not reminded of the fact that yes I am really in Portland and NOT Europe). I was only shaken once, when this crazy lady came straight towards the crowd of people and yelled, "Move!" I found traveling to Europe exactly what I needed on this lovely fall day.

I found out that Tilburg has tree in this middle of a five point intersection that quite controversial because the city wants to remove it and the local businesses and people want to keep it there. I also found out that years ago Tilburg's main business was making fabric and that the people of the town used to bring their urine in a jar to the factories because it was an important ingredient in the fabric making process. I even saw the statue dedicated to this. Surrounding towns mock the residents of Tilburg for this fact, while the people of Tilburg see it as a source of pride. My favorite part was a monument dedicated to non-violent solutions. After six people were randomly murdered (Khris explained that you are five times more likely to be murdered in Portland than you were in ALL of Holland. This sort of thing doesn't happen there.) the city commissioned an artist to create a statue dedicated to this city's loss. The artist (and I'm so sorry I don't remember their name) made a cabinet where people could come and write down their solutions to violence and everyday someone from the city comes and picks up the messages and puts ones they deem fit in the top part on display.

Tilburg is so cool you can even get a degree in Rock n'Roll at one of the local art universities. I was lucky I got to see the city without even buying a plane ticket. Khris will go to Tilburg and conduct a Tilburg Tour of Portland during their city's arts festival. I can't wait to see what they think of us!

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