Interview with Keith Jones, executive director of the Green Loop

Cardinal Times reporters Henry Reuland and Redding Longaker sat down with Jones to talk about The Green Loop and one of its projects, the Culinary Corridor. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


Q: What is the Green Loop?

A: The Green Loop is a six mile linear park where people can come and visit and celebrate their culture. But it’s also about reclaiming streets from cars, and there’s a big climate change component to that. Things are pretty dire [right now], and we need to start thinking differently about how we move around the city. The Green Loop can provide that—it’s a pedestrian, scooter and bike only path that gets you all the way around the city. If you look at how the Green Loop is laid out over the existing bike network, it actually connects to a large part of the bike network. So, you can pretty much use the Green Loop to get all around the city. In essence, the Green Loop is just helping to further develop and strengthen the bike network that we have right now. 


Q: Why do you think the Culinary Corridor food carts are worthy of Portland’s attention? 

A: The food carts are a piece of our culture that we’re known for but that is going to disappear if we don’t do something about it [due to a lack of income], to protect it. There’s a strong economic development component to this. Like I said, [the food carts] are 55 small businesses that create over 500 jobs, which goes right back into the economy. People from all over the world come here for those carts. So it’s important to keep them alive.  


Q: What are some ways people can get involved with the Green Loop?

A: Obviously, we could use help in terms of advocating for [the Green Loop] and letting people know that they can support it. We need people to stand up and speak for these types of projects and say, “this is what we want more of.” So that’s one way. The other way is to support the places that we create along there. The food carts, they’re down there right now, and they are essentially leading the charge into sort of reactivating and getting people back downtown. But they are struggling right now. So supporting those businesses down there is another way [to get involved with the Green Loop]. And then the third way would be to let us know how we can do better with creating community space, because, ultimately, this is about the stuff going on around the Green Loop too, and it should reflect the communities the park runs through.


Q: Why do you think Lincoln students should be interested in the Green Loop and the Culinary Corridor food carts? Are there any ways they can get involved?

A: I’ve called Lincoln in the past for a couple of reasons. One is [the food carts] could use you in a lot of ways they could use you for one obviously, just giving them business by buying food. But I have also reached out to see if maybe there were some marketing opportunities there. The food cart owners themselves are mostly immigrant-based, so their social media isn’t as strong. So I thought it’d be great if we could have some sort of partnership where maybe Lincoln students could help [these food cart owners] with things like social media and marketing. The partners that we bring, like Travel Portland and Travel Oregon, could essentially help [Lincoln students] learn the advertising and marketing skills that are always true, no matter what the platform is. So there’ll be a learning experience there as well. Something else we thought would be kind of interesting was if [students in the Lincoln culinary program] could take some time and maybe intern with some of the cart owners to learn how to operate in an actual cooking environment. Being able to work in a high speed environment like the food carts, and learning from cart owners, could be really interesting. It would also be interesting to take a day where we turn over the food parts to the culinary students and let them serve their own menus out of there. Or maybe we even get your own food carts down there to try something out. There’s lots of different options, and I’m really open to finding opportunities to give experience.