Axios Portland

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✔️ It's Friday, grade your achievements this week.

🍃 Today's weather: Cloudy and windy. High 44, low 35.

ğŸŽ§ Sounds like: "Bug Like An Angel" by Mitski

🫅 Situational awareness: We're off Monday for Presidents Day, but look out for a special edition newsletter that morning from the larger Axios newsroom. Excited to hear what you think!

Today's newsletter is 918 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Open swimming embraces the cold

Christina Malango and friends take their ritual selfie before their thrice-weekly cold plunge in the Willamette River at Milwaukie Bay Park. In summer they swim but in winter they immerse for 10 minutes then go for coffee. Photo: Joseph Gallivan/Axios

Open water swimming has taken hold in winter in Portland, linked with cold plunge science and the Wim Hof Method of breathwork.

Why it matters: Portlanders started open swimming in lakes and rivers when the pandemic closed public pools in 2020, then they extended it into winter as cold plunging gained notoriety.

The big picture: Cold plunging is available in Portland at spas and in cryotherapy tubs, but a free, natural version is available any day of the winter on the waterfront. Current popular spots for cold plunging include:

Zoom in: At 7:30am on a recent Friday, the Milwaukie Bay Peahens ambled down the boat launch at Milwaukie Bay Park.

  • The Peahens wore coats, robes, hats, swimsuits and sandals, but Christina Malango, one of the organizers, said they often skinny dip, or as she put it, "chunky dunk."

What they're saying: Malango said the worst part is getting in the water, that never changes. "The best bit is the afterwards. The endorphins. And the community."

The bottom line: It's not for everyone. Willie Levenson, open swimming activist and ringleader of the Human Access Project, said he would never cold plunge unless there was a sauna nearby. He came along for the ride and stayed in for two minutes. The Hens did 10.

2. Cold plunge from home

Wim Hof Method instructor Sungho Spark (center, black cap) with clients at a breathwork and cold plunge session. Photo: Courtesy of Leigh Spark

Other believers in the health benefits of cold water plunge at home.

State of play: Sungho Spark has a 15-cubic-feet chest freezer filled with water in his yard, with an immersion cooler to keep it at 40°.

  • As a software developer, he felt unhealthy sitting for hours at a computer, beset by mental stress but not physical stress.
  • Now he jumps in once a day for two to three minutes.

"It gets me dealing with physical stress in a controlled way," he told Axios. Staying in to push through the mental barrier is half the reward.

Context: In 2017, Spark became a certified Wim Hof Method instructor, named for the Norwegian modality that combines breathwork with cold plunging, and he teaches classes using an inflatable birthing pool.

Don't forget: A fundraiser for Special Olympics Oregon, the Polar Plunge, happens at 10am Saturday, Feb. 24, at Willamette Park.

Do you cold plunge? Hit reply and tell us why.

3. Rose City Rundown

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🚨 Police raided camps for unhoused people at two undeveloped lots on NE 148th and NE 151st avenues on Tuesday, the scenes of two recent shootings, and arrested 12 people. (Gresham Outlook)

🧽 Graffiti was in City Commissioner Carmen Rubio's crosshairs, as she successfully convinced her colleagues to amend the Portland city code, making it easier to compel private property owners to clean drawings off their buildings.

  • Rubio, who heads the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, is also running for mayor this November. (Willamette Week)

🩺 Oregon Health Plan's CareOregon and the SCAN Group, a California-based Medicare Advantage plan, withdrew their proposed merger after the state raised persistent concerns. (OPB)

4. What happened in the Legislature this week

The Oregon State Capitol. Photo: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With only 23 days left in the short legislative session, Oregon lawmakers are cruising through bills related to the price of insulin, re-criminalizing illicit drug use on public transit and more.

What's happening: A bill to cap the price of insulin at $35 for a 30-day supply passed the Oregon Senate and now goes to the House of Representatives.

📱 The "right to repair" measure, which would allow consumers more affordable options to fix devices like phones and tablets, moved one step closer to adoption thanks to little opposition from industry experts, except for Apple.

🚆 Legislators heard testimony from transit workers who hope to make drug use aboard trains and buses a Class A misdemeanor, arguing exposure to fentanyl or methamphetamine smoke harms public health and jeopardizes worker safety.

  • The transit bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now heads to the floor for a vote, perhaps giving some power and precedent for lawmakers to continue efforts to roll back Measure 110.

📚 Meanwhile, like recent culture clashes over the place of books addressing race and LGBTQ+ identities in classrooms, a proposal to prevent school boards and districts from banning some content drew heated controversy.

Keep reading

5. Weekend Guide

Jon Batiste hits the Schnitz tonight as part of the Biamp Portland Jazz Festival. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Enjoy the long weekend — if your boss observes it — with an assortment of music that makes Portland its eclectic little self. Or just do beer and fishing.

ğŸŽ£ Fish, crab or clam for free this weekend. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife celebrates the holiday weekend with no fishing/shellfish licenses or tags required for two days for both Oregonians and non-residents. However, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions.

ğŸŽ· Jon Batiste, 2022 Grammy winner and former Colbert bandleader brings his fresh-faced funk to the Schnitz. Gotta love a guy who collabs with Lil Wayne and Kenny G. Part of the Biamp Portland Jazz Festival. 8pm tonight, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

🍻 Zwickelmania is a citywide beer-tasting event, named for the little tap on the outside of old beer barrels. Red sample cups up! With over 50 participating craft breweries, plan your attack here. 11am-4pm tomorrow.

🐲 At this Lunar New Year Dragon Dance you can chase the dragon from Old Town to the Oregon Historical Society in this free fun family celebration. 10am-1pm tomorrow.

Read our full weekend guide

🐈 Joseph's cat, Caramel, isn't feeling well, so he's running around more than usual with the carpet shampooer.

🧖🏼‍♀️ Meira is taking the day off to relax and run some much-needed errands (like shopping for new skincare products).

This newsletter was edited by Emma Way and copy edited by Steven Patrick and Anjelica Tan.