Di's Hometown: Portland, Michigan, USA

Portland, MI is small town of about 4000 people with a unique history and the source of my love for the country.

Called the City of Two Rivers because this is where the large Grand River (flowing west to east) merges with the Looking Glass River. This made Portland quite the trade city in the 1800s and a frequent stop when traveling across the state.

Portland is also home to one of West Michigan's best runner attractions: the River Trail. The River Trail now completely encircles the city, and extends far down each leg of the rivers. It's closed to vehicles, and in the summer provides a beautiful scenic walk.

Portland is home to the only certified Systema (used by Russian SPETSNAZ) studio, a self-defense martial art, in the lower penninsula. This is one of the reasons I frequently return to Portland!

Each year in August, the city hosts a several-day long main street party called RiverFest - this includes a beer tent, local bands, a car show, local vendors, boating down the rivers and my favorite: the Ugly Dog Contest.

Portland has resisted the most unpleasent bits of global growth - we didn't have a chain pizza shop until I was a junior in high school. It wasn't until I moved to Ann Arbor that I found out how blessed I had been. Two of the pizza shops in Portland have won 'Best Pizza in Michigan' awards in previous years.

Portland was the first city in Michigan to be chosen as a Cool City. This project helps cities fund improvements for their local community - Portland received several grants and built an arts center, funded local theater, and supported local vendors. Portland aims for small-town charm, a walkable main street area and a thriving, locally-owned downtown.

An 1881 map of Portland

The river and its Trail

Systema in Portland

A view from Bridge St.

Portland Party Store Pizza!

Good Ol' Main Street