Millisphere: a discrete region inhabited by roughly one-thousandth of the world population.

With a population of just over four million the state of Oregon in the United States qualifies as a millisphere, just.

Roughly half of Oregon's population lives in the Portland Metropolitan Area which has small Pacific Island, Native American, Black and Asian communities but is known as "America's biggest white town". Despite its racist past, in the run-up to the 2020 election Portland has been a city of Black Lives Matters protests against police violence and a centre for anarchist activity.

Named Oregon by the Spanish, Native American land was settled by Anglos coming through the Oregon Trail in the 19th century. The old growth forests of douglas fir were clear-felled and the fragrant "Oregon" timber was exported around the Pacific.


By 1900 Portland was "one of the most dangerous port cities in the world", according to Wikipedia. Early in its history there were attempts to halt Black immigration to Oregon but today Portland prides itself as being an integrated, socially liberal city. Since the 1980s Portland has voted Democrat, has had a gay mayor and voted for gay marriage (by referendum).

Portland supported an entertainment industry of theatres and music halls, bordellos and nightclubs. During the 1960s Portland's hippie subculture continued the tradition with the psychedelic Crystal Ballroom.

Along with Austin, Texas, Portland today has a thriving alternative music scene. Portland gave the world the cult song Louie Louie and it is where Kurt Cobain met Courtney Love.

Today Portland is known as "the Greenest city in America". Its MAX light rail and bike path systems put it streets ahead of fellow car-dependent American cities. Since 1990 there has been a 90 per cent drop in forest production in Oregon and its economy includes agriculture (blueberries and wine) and hydroelectric generation.

American sports accessories manufacturer Nike has its headquarters in Beaverton out of Portland and its German competitor Adidas put its North American head office there. In 1981 Oregon was the first American state to introduce postal voting.

Since 2014 it has been legal in Oregon to consume cannabis which people over 21 can purchase from state licensed outlets. Weed is not allowed to be smoked in public, transported over state borders or sold without a state licence - although the possession of cannabis is still a federal offence in the "United States".

All the above attributes make Oregon the opposite of Donald Trump's America.
Geographically Oregon is as far away from Washington, Wall Street and Hollywood as you can get and it has an independent streak.

When Donald Trump was elected president Portland responded by rioting, and in the crowd were Antifa - a new leaderless anarchist resistance group. The Black Lives Matters protests inflamed an already volatile situation and Portland has had three months of continuous protest.


Donald Trump responded by sending in the federal troops, equipped with surplus military hardware from the Gulf war, which was like throwing gasoline on flames and the Department of Homeland Security had to beat an ignominious retreat.

Watching video of the parade of Trump supporters with their trucks and flags confronting the protesters on Portland's streets, where a Patriot Prayer follower was shot, it appeared that America was tearing itself apart. Maybe this is what is happening. Not a divorce where two parties fight for their share but a fragmentation of a larger whole into smaller pieces.

If Trump's America falls apart Oregon will be well placed to survive. For one thing it won't have to fund Uncle Sam's war machine any more and can divert that money into the sort of progressive initiatives that Portland is already known for.

For another the people of Oregon can then stop fighting and concentrate on the Covid pandemic. With a similar population to New Zealand Oregon is coming up for 30,000 cases and 500 Covid deaths (September 2020).

Oregon has had to fight the pandemic by itself with little help from the federal government and mayor Ted Wheeler has asked Donald Trump to stay away from Portland - Trump, he said, is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Forest fires rage through Eagle Creek, Oregon, earlier this month. Photo / Getty Images
Forest fires rage through Eagle Creek, Oregon, earlier this month. Photo / Getty Images

[Oregon, as well as California and Washington have been the centre of devastating forest fires since August.]