I've been going to Timbers games since 2009, watching from the Timbers Army section the entire time I've been a supporter. This was the first season after it was announced Portland would be joining MLS in 2011. As you can imagine, many things have changed since then.
Back when I started the Timbers Army filled about three sections with supporters who would actively participate. There were always decent sized crowds but the only times we filled the entire stadium were the US Open Cup games against Seattle in 2009 and 2010, and the final regular season home game in 2010. I never imagined the entire stadium would be full for every league game for the next two years.
Now Portland has just started its third season in MLS, and watching the replay of the opening match it's amazing to hear how loud the Timbers Army is, and how much energy they bring now that the entire North End of the stadium is filled. And it got that way because since it started in 2001, the supporters who founded the Timbers Army didn't settle for "good enough." They kept thinking bigger, and working harder. They kept reaching out until they filled two rows of Section 107, then five rows, then half the section, then the entire section. But that wasn't good enough.
As new members joined, they saw how the TA was built by people putting in the time to make the group better. People saw what needed to be done and jumped in to help, whether it was making banners, organizing early away trips, or spreading the word about the Timbers and the TA. This volunteer spirit continues to this day. A case in point is how the flag crew I'm part of came about. Midway through the 2011 season we all answered a call for volunteers to help put out flags before games. Two of the ladies on the crew took the initiative to start taking them home to wash and repair the ones in need of care. They did this because they saw where help was needed and offered it.
The TA has never settled on "good enough" when it comes to tifo displays. The one of Timber Jim cutting down the Space Needle in 2009 was excellent, but in the MLS era the TA does several displays of that scale each season. We did three large banners that covered most of the Timbers Army sections for the first MLS game in Portland. That was good, but the TA always thinks bigger. For the 2012 opener we involved the whole stadium. This season we used umbrellas as props, another first. It's never "good enough" for us when it comes to tifo, because we use these displays to show our pride in our team and city. We always want to improve our displays and I know we'll keep doing just that.
The TA also recognized that just coming to games was not good enough. In 2010, with the move to MLS coming, a group of people formed the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107ist). With this organization they wanted to be able to reach out and help make the community outside the stadium better as well. Now 107ist provides uniforms and equipment to local soccer teams in need. They have helped promising young players in the Portland with the money needed to play on youth national teams to improve their skills. They've helped improve the fields at city parks to make it easier for everyone to play soccer. They were a major force behind getting Haper's Playground built, where children can play no matter what their limitations. Then there's the tree plantings, days at the food bank, and blood drives 107ist members have participated in.
I've been a 107ist member since its founding in 2010 and I'm proud of all the ways the Portland area has been made better by us. And all of these projects started because someone saw that what we were already doing was good, but we could do even better. If the supporters who came before me settled for being good enough we wouldn't be here today, not even close. For that I'm grateful to those men and women, as should all Timbers supporters today.