Over the years I have travelled extensively across much of the United States, perhaps seeing more of that great nation than many of it’s residents. But of all the cities I’ve come to love in America only Portland in Oregon is called my favorite.

Portland Oregon is weird, and proud of it too. Other cities revel in similar weirdness, like Austin Texas, or parts of San-Francisco California, but Portland does weird effortlessly.

Make no mistake, this is charming weird I’m talking about here, not socially awkward or disturbing weird. It’s weird in a way that makes you smile, stirring something inside you that yearns to be that relaxed about being weird. It’s an eccentric city pretending to be just like anywhere else, like a child that puts on your shoes then has fun walking in them.

So when I saw a picture on Christina’s blog of a toy horse tethered to an old horse ring on the street in Portland, I found myself smiling at that trademark weirdness that seems so typically Portland.

The tethered toy horse would have been charmingly weird enough on it’s own, but perhaps not unexpectedly it turns out to be part of a much larger movement started by an artist named Scott Wayne Indiana.

Knowing about the many horse rings on Portland sidewalks, Indiana thought it was a shame that they had become forgotten over time and decided to change that. So back in 2005 he tied a toy pony to a horse ring on a sidewalk in the cities Pearl District. Since that time, thanks to the help of other wonderfully weird Portlanders, horses have been tethered to sidewalk horse rings all over the city.

Indiana’s idea has a name, The Horse Project, and there’s a website (but of course) where you can see pictures of some of the horses that have been tethered to the streets of Portland. There’s even a map for the hardcore plastic horse lover who might, for whatever reason, decide to make a day of visiting the horses that any other city might have just treated as roadside junk.

I’m no expert of Portland’s history so I can’t tell you if the city was ever as busy with horses in the past as it is with cars today, and it’s hard to imagine horses tethered on the busy streets of Portland’s yesteryear. But maybe the city placed the horse rings on the streets in the same way that there are today places in Portland where you can park and charge an electric car, evidence that while Portland might be weird, it is also optimistic.

Maybe in the future an artist will stop and wonder whatever happened to the electric cars that this weird city thought might one day crowd its streets. Who knows what art might be inspired by those roadside charging points. Little cars plugged into long forgotten and disconnected roadside charging points maybe? Whatever it is, it will be weird, and that’s just fine with me.

The Horse Project
Scott Wayne Indiana’s website
Keep Portland Weird
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