In a city ever growing with transplants, Kevin is a proud Portland native who does not mind the changing pace of his hometown. But he remembers days past of a different city than the one we see now.
“I could tell you about Portland before the light rail. Different things have changed, like the Saturday Market; it used to have a bohemian atmosphere,” he said. “A lot of things I’ve grown up with have evaporated. Now everything is kind of mechanical; you jump on a train and then get off, like a potato head.”
Kevin grew up near the Lloyd Center. He says he kept himself busy. “I used to get around like the Beach Boys song.”
And got around he has. Kevin was eager to talk about the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and experiences he feels privileged to have had throughout his childhood and adult years.
“It’s beautiful here,” he said. “There’s no getting away from it.”
Kevin talked about going to summer camp near Mount St. Helens, “the most beautiful place on Earth,” and hiking and camping outside of the city. He has a genuine curiosity for the natural beauty of the city and the taken-for-granted wilderness we are surrounded by in Portland. This love of the outdoors, along with his embrace of Eastern religions, has made its way into Kevin’s calm, peaceful demeanor.
“I try to practice peace and meditation. It has really helped me in communicating with people. When I sleep, I go into horizontal meditation,” he said with a laugh.
Kevin found out about Street Roots through another vendor while spending time at Operation Nightwatch. He has been selling the newspaper for the past two years.
“I’ve had my good jobs, and I’ve had my bad jobs,” he said. “Street Roots has been a really good experience for me. I’m glad I got involved.”
Kevin redirected a string of questions to enthusiastically mention his current passion of birdwatching.
“I’ve been watching for about four years, and I am still learning,” he said. Going up to Sauvie Island with the Audubon Society, Kevin recalled, they once saw around 35 species of birds on the trip, his favorite being the birds of prey.
“I like anything from the bald eagle to the red-tailed hawk,” he said.
Kevin typically sells Street Roots outside of the QFC in Westmoreland and, with its proximity to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, has a prime viewing spot for birds that fly overhead. Sometimes he has binoculars in hand. When I asked him any advice for novice birdwatchers, Kevin’s reply, other than to look out for the ospreys returning in late spring, was, “Just let it happen.” Fitting advice coming from someone who says he is “taking life just one day at a time.”