Downtime with Lynn Peterson

Jason E. Kaplan

Unwinding with the president of Oregon Metro Council

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What are you reading?

I’ve been reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I love how she’s focused on using both a scientific approach and a lived-experience approach in her work, and on not losing your connection to the planet or people.

What are you watching?

I’ve been binging on Star Trek reruns. My favorite series is The Next Generation, and I’m working my way through DS9 right now. Chris Pine > William Shatner.

What are you listening to?

I’m a huge Imagine Dragons fan. I was excited to see them as my first concert, as we are able to have large events at the Moda Center recently. Their music is inspiring and empowering because they acknowledge every person’s individual worth and lived experience.

What is your must-have gadget?  

iPhone. I need the world at my fingertips.

What are your hobbies/interests?  

Growing up in Wisconsin, we were raised in the “silent sports” of biking, hiking and cross-country skiing. We learned to be outside no matter what the weather. Now my favorite outdoor activity is snowshoeing with my three malamutes. It’s the only time they get to be off leash and be themselves.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?  

I wanted to be an engineer at age 12, and I never questioned that path. I did a report on professions, and I saw civil engineering and it seemed really cool. I was already in industrial ed. We did electrical, metallurgy, woodworking, all hands-on stuff. It gave me the confidence to be the only girl in the room and learn stuff that was, in the 1980s, still mostly reserved for the boys.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Twenty-five years ago, my husband, Mark, and I first visited the Wallowas – Oregon’s version of the Swiss Alps. We love it and we visit as often as we can.

What is your biggest extravagance?

We love traveling in our Airstream trailer. It’s cozy, it’s got just enough room for two adults and up to three malamutes. We put solar panels on it to let us go off the grid as much as possible. And they’ve got a shelf life of 75 to 100 years, they’re so sustainable.

What motivates you to come to work?   

That every day brings us closer to solving really difficult problems or implementing those solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives.

Who is your professional role model?  

The late planner John Fregonese taught me how to trust people to make good decisions about the important things that shape society. He didn’t try to hide things, didn’t try to steer them — he just gave people as much information as he could, and he let them work in teams to come up with solutions.

What ambitions do you still have?   

To finish Metro’s work on housing and homelessness, and restart the conversation about transportation in greater Portland. The defeat of the 2020 transportation measure was hard, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need to invest in our transportation infrastructure in a new way. What that new way looks like is going to be a long and interesting conversation.

Personally: There’s a bike tour called the Parks, Peaks and Prairies route that connects Yellowstone, the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Badlands to Minneapolis. It’s a 1,300-mile commitment, and it sounds like a great challenge.

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