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Portland Brings Home the Cup!

Portland, Oregon is known for many things, but as of Sunday, December 6, 2015, Portland is now known as the 2015 winner of the MLS Cup.

Timbers captain Liam Ridgewell (front, right) and longtime captain Will Johnson (front, left), who missed most of the year due to injury, hoist MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium. Head coach Caleb Porter (right), applauds his squad. PHOTO BY: USA TODAY Sports


Major League Soccer is the professional soccer league in the United States. With 20 teams across the U.S. the MLS franchise has become increasingly popular in the past few years, expanding to cities such as Portland, Oregon. Portland has had a soccer team for many years, but in 2011 the MLS expanded to include both the Rose City (Portland) and Vancouver, B.C. Since that year the Portland Timbers organization has grown on and off the field – becoming one of the loudest soccer cities in the U.S. and according to the Bleacher Report, the best stadium for soccer fans.

This past weekend Portland brought home what is considered the Super Bowl of wins for soccer – the MLS Cup. We would like to congratulate the Portland Timber’s organization for this victory! We are proud to live in Portland and even prouder of our Timbers for bringing home the cup. This is just another reason to love Portland:

Thinking about moving to Portland? Our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland will have all the information you need about the Rose City!

MLK Day Activities

Celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-dMartin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is January 15th, but is officially observed on the 3rd Monday of January. Not everyone has this day off, but for those that do, there are many things in your city that you can do to celebrate the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this Monday and over the weekend.

The new movie Selma was released last week and chronicles a three-month period of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. The New Yorker’s David Denby writes about Selma: “This is cinema, more rhetorical, spectacular, and stirring than cable-TV drama…” He goes on to point out that “DuVernay’s timing couldn’t be more relevant. Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of both the Selma marches and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.” If you are interested in seeing this movie and learning about this inspiring leader check your latest theater listing for show times.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, GA, so it is fitting that the MLK Civil and Human Rights Conference is held there from January 15-19. The conference was established to commemorate the life of Dr. King and the civil rights movement, but is inclusive of all people and aims to focus its efforts on community service and education. It is not too late to attend and registration can be done at the event.

If you live in Oregon, there are many activities going on. chronicles some of the many options that you have from a Prayer Breakfast to a week-long celebration in Salem: Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015: Celebrations, services and events around Portland.

San Francisco hosts an annual parade and festival in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Beginning at 11:00 AM on January 19th, the 1.5 mile parade starts at Caltrain Station and ends at Willie Mays Plaza. The Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation has put together a list of events in and around San Francisco: From January 16-19 there will be a children’s discovery hunt, music festival, health & wellness festival, and free admission at some of the city’s museums.

Interested in volunteering? A lot of people, from federal workers to private business employees, have Monday off work. With the upcoming three-day weekend, Time magazine encourages you to turn your day off into a day on. They have listed some volunteer organizations for major cities across the U.S.:

New York City has a website specifically devoted to volunteer opportunities on MLK day: There are also many opportunities for kids in New York City to get involved and learn about Dr. King’s life via interactive peace marches and various free museums. The Apollo Theater is hosting a free event, which includes musical performances, readings, panelists and moderators to encourage an engaging conversation about Dr. King. This event will be held on Sunday, January 18th, and is such a popular event that reservations are no longer available. Those still interested in attending can standby the day of the event in case space opens up (  The Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is New York City’s largest public celebration. Also free to attend, this event brings together artists, activists, civic leaders, and community member to honor his legacy (

No matter where you live, there are many activities to celebrate the life and legacy of this impactful historical figure. This list just touches on a few of the many celebrations around the U.S. but is a good starting point to deciding how you choose to celebrate the life of Dr. King on Monday.

Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland, Updated for 2015!

New year, new Portland handbook.

Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland, 3rd EditionThe third edition of the Newcomer’s Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Portland: Including Vancouver, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, and Wilsonville, about 560 pages long, contains detailed information on neighborhoods, getting settled, helpful services, child care and education, cultural life, green living, and much more. Written by Bryan Geon, who has spent over a decade exploring Portland and the surrounding region, both as a long-time resident and serial newcomer, this book, designed especially for individuals who are planning to move to Portland, Oregon, or for those who have just arrived in the Rose City, is the essential guide to Portland and the surrounding communities.

In detailing Portland neighborhoods from Kenton to Multnomah Village and the Pearl District to Montavilla, this volume delineates the character and features of each area as well as the types and availability of housing, plus a list of convenient addresses and web sites. It then goes further afield to describe suburbs in East Multnomah County, Clackamas, Washington, and even Yamhill counties, plus Vancouver and its suburbs in Washington state. This edition also includes photographs illustrating what the neighborhoods and communities actually look like.

Updates to the third edition include the latest on changes in Oregon law (legalized recreational marijuana, phased in starting in mid-2015; reinstatement of legalized same-sex marriage), new sports venue names (Moda Center, Providence Park, Ron Tonkin Stadium), transportation updates (in particular the Tilikum Crossing bridge, opening in the fall of 2015 and designed to serve mass transit, pedestrians and bicyclists, and emergency vehicles; and the new light-rail line to Milwaukie, also scheduled to begin operations in late 2015), and several references to Portlandia (as defined in the Local Lingo section: Portlandia: Popular IFC sketch-comedy show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that pokes fun at the city’s quirks and foibles; some people refer to it, only half-jokingly, as a documentary).

And best of all, this volume approaches Portland with a sensibility appropriate to the city with humor and a bit of delight in the quirkiness that exemplifies the Rose City. For example, a brief excerpt from the Weather and Natural Disasters chapter:

By now, you’ve probably heard a few not especially funny jokes about Oregon rain. One old saw holds that Oregonians don’t tan, they rust. Another states that Portland’s rainy season only runs from September 1 to August 31. Yet another asks, “What do you call two consecutive days of rain in Portland?” (Answer: the weekend.) Then there’s the story about the hapless fellow waiting to be admitted into hell. He watches anxiously as Satan throws almost every soul in line ahead of him into the fiery pit, but notices that every so often the devil chucks someone off to the side instead. Intrigued, he summons up the courage to peep, “Excuse me, Prince of Darkness, but I notice that you seem to be throwing some people off to the side instead of into the inferno.” “Oh, them,” the devil replies ruefully, “They’re from Portland. They’re too wet to burn.” Har har har. Endless rain. How very droll.

It does rain a lot in Oregon. Rumors of a nine-month deluge, however, are greatly exaggerated. The sun comes out sometimes, even in winter, and summers are typically glorious. And even if the weather’s often wet and gray, it’s somewhat comforting that the region’s best known climatic feature is its drizzle rather than, say, category 5 hurricanes, killer tornadoes, or paralyzing blizzards.

Which is not to say that Portland is not at risk from natural disasters. All that rain sometimes begets mudslides and floods, and the area is subject to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and the occasional ironic drought. It’s all part of the price you pay for living in a paradise—a soggy, geologically unstable paradise.

Want to read more? Order now

Bookstores to Visit

World's Coolest Bookstores

On July 24, 2014 CNN released their list of World’s Coolest Bookstores, and we can confirm the coolness of five that are located in cities we know well from our handbooks.

The Last Bookstore 1

To start, The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles started as an online store but is now located in an old bank, vaults included. On the top floor, there is a section called the Labyrinth with over 100,000 books all priced at a dollar. The Last Bookstore 2Along with their wide collection of books (making them the largest independent bookstore in California), Last Bookstore also sells records and holds book signings/readings. If that isn’t enticing enough, the book structures (such as the desk and tunnel to the Labyrinth) will make the visit worth your while.

StanfordsThe next couple of shops are Stanfords and Foyles Flagship, both of which are in London. Stanfords carries the world’s largest stock of maps and travel bFoyles Flagshipooks, which comes as no surprise since the store initially opened as a map shop in 1853. If you are traveling through London and need assistance with your next excursion, the attentive staff at Stanfords can help with your research. Foyles Flagship, on the other hand, originated in 1903 when brothers William and Gilbert Foyles started selling textbooks based on an exam they had failed. Now the store is thriving with five locations, one of which is where the Sex Pistols first performed.

The StrandAnother of CNN’s coolest bookstores is The Strand in New York City. The Strand was started by Ben Bass on 4th Avenue in book row amongst 48 other bookstores and is the only one left standing today. Currently on 12th and Broadway, The Strand carries over 2.5 million new, used, and rare books. According to their website, the store is still kept in the Bass family, and they expect to continue this tradition, not seeing online stores like Amazon as a threat.

PowellsAnd last, but certainly not least, is Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. It might be a little biased to say this, but Powell’s is a book-lover’s paradise. The store takes up a whole city block and is packed up to three levels with books. Powell’s carries 122 subjects and 3,500 subsections, making it hard to not find a book on their shelves. If you do find something they don’t carry (because it has been self-published), Powell’s can print it right in the store with their Espresso Book Maker.

Those are the bookstores from CNN’s list we know from our Newcomer’s Handbooks. And if you’re moving to any of these cities, we suggest checking these stores out.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

The Coffee of Portland

Portland's Best Coffee Houses

Heart Coffee RoastersCoffee has become the source of life for some of us here at First Books and according to Buzzfeed’s new article 25 Coffee Shops Around the World You Have to See Before You Die, it’s a good thing we’re located in Portland, OR, where the list’s number one and three shops are located.

Portland’s Heart Coffee Roasters makes it to the number-one slot on Buzzfeed’s list. According to the “About” section on their website, Heart’s motivation is to offer “uncompromising quality.” To achieve this result, they begin with green (unroasted) coffee and roast it a temperature that fully develops its flavors; each cup of coffee must pass a “standard of excellence” before making it into the hands of the customer. The Heart crew now serves affogatos, an espresso-lover’s favorite, which is a scoop of ice cream or gelato topped with a shot of espresso. Heart’s homemade ice cream consists of coconut cream, maple syrup, vanilla bean, and Himalayan pink salt; therefore, it is vegan and lactose-intolerant friendly. And though this treat is only sold in Heart’s two café locations, you can still order their special roasts and other items from their online shop.

Stumptown CoffeeThe third shop on Buzzfeed’s list is Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which has five shops (including their headquarters) in Portland as well as a few locations in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Stumptown is a farm-to-coffee-cup kind of place that builds relationships with the farmers in order to obtain the “best beans in the world,” resulting in the best coffee. Duane Sorenson first opened the shop in 1999 with the dream to make coffee based on the quality not the quantity, which, based on the popularity of his shops, is a dream he has more than achieved.  Cold brew, one of  Stumptown’s most raved about creations, tastes of pure caffeine and is a perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer morning. Don’t be disappointed if there are no shops near you; Stumptown sells a variety of their blends and even brew kits on their online store, so you can bring Stumptown’s goodness home.

Written by: Kristin Monteith


A Beautiful City

We publish Newcomer’s Handbooks for many different cities– one of them being Portland, Oregon, our hometown. We love it here! This is our home for many reasons, and there are tons of lists out there that tell you why Portland is one of the greatest cities in the U.S.

Uncage the Soul Productions put together an amazing time lapse video of Portland, showing both the city and the nature that surrounds it.  There are so many things that Portland has to offer, and this video only captures a small portion of that. However, it does it so well that we wanted to share it with you. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a bit of what we call home:

Finding Portland from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.


Portland – A Newcomer’s Perspective

Moving to and living in Portland, Oregon

Being a newcomer to a place is both exciting and frightening. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and didn’t even step foot on an airplane until my first year of college. After graduating, however, I knew that the comfortable stability of the Midwest would never be for me, and so I embarked on a 3-year journey that would take me across Asia and Europe and eventually back to the United States. It took me no time to decide that my new destination—and home– would be Portland, Oregon.  

Newcomer's Handbook for PortlandMy first goal upon arriving in the city was to visit the famous Powell’s City of Books, the largest independently-owned bookstore in the world. As luck would have it, there was a table stacked with “The Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland,” which I snatched up immediately and devoured. The book helped me understand the city and its history, but it was more valuable in helping me get settled. I used it to choose a neighborhood to live in, to get my car registered, to find parks, and to guide me to the best brewpubs and movie theaters in the city.

But the Newcomer’s book was only a starting point. I had to get out there and explore in order to find my favorite food carts, coffee roasters, and vintage clothing stores. And because Portland is so often named one of the best or most fun, nerdiest, or hippest cities in the U.S., there are always plenty of resources online for guidance. 

Portland is such a unique city with great food, style, people, and culture. It’s also a city filled with newcomers like me. Though I sometimes wish I had always been here, I know that if I had, I would take this amazing city for granted. And Portland deserves better than that.

Written by: Cayce Arnett