Don't Bet Against Oregon
The bad news: most of us are worried about the future of the state. The good news: those worries can unite us.
Kevin Frazier edits The Oregon Way (forgive him for typos…he is in the middle of finals). He runs No One Left Offline (NOLO) in his spare time. And, as always, he welcomes your feedback.
If you missed yesterday’s post, “Don’t Bet Against Portland” by John Tapogna, be sure to give it a read.
“Eighty percent of Oregonians are worried about Oregon’s future.” That was the headline of a recent statewide survey. It’s unsurprising given all that 2020 has sent our way.
Oregonians are concerned about the state's finances (and their own), the protests in Portland (and whether they'll impact their own community), the impact of wildfires on devastated communities (and whether their own town is next), and so much more.
Worries have turned to pessimism. Only a third of Oregonians reported feeling like we can "find common ground and come together next year to address our state’s challenges.” The survey suggests that we’d collectively say the odds are anything but in our favor.
Why, then, am I optimistic? Why am I betting on Oregon?
Because I’m part of the third of Oregonians that believes we can come together. What the headline didn’t reveal is that there’s a coalition waiting to be formed—a coalition of optimists united by a shared desire to never reach these lows again.
Yes, 33% of Oregonians doubt our ability to come together . . . but there’s another 33% that does and another 33% that’s in the middle, waiting to be tipped to one side or the other.
So, how do we turn 33% to 100%? Simple:
first, unite with those that share our optimism.
second, identify those on the fence and share what makes us confident that we, Oregonians, can figure this out together.
third, with that new optimist, go together to convince the pessimistic third that there are better days on the horizon.
You may be thinking that I’ve had one too many coffees this morning — and you’d be right. But, it’s not the caffeine that’s convinced me of Oregon’s positive outlook.
You see if you’re reading this then odds are you’re with me in believing that Oregon’s tomorrows can be better than our todays.
Why else would you be reading a blog called The Oregon Way?
…A blog that’s made up of people willing to write (for free) about what’s made our state great, where it needs improvement, and how we can reach those brighter days.
…A blog that’s read by people around the state and across the political spectrum.
…A blog that’s fueled by a deep desire to address Oregon’s faults, to restore it’s reputation for visionary policy, and to break down divides by building up communities.
I’m betting on Oregon because I’m betting that if this Oregon Way community can form, then we can expand our ranks - 1/3 at a time.
The individuals here — from folks like Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris in Klamath to Mayor Sally Russell in Bend to former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury down on the coast — are not betting against Oregon. And, I sincerely hope that you aren’t either.
Every night I get to edit a post by someone who shares our optimism. It’s restorative and empowering. It’s also a responsibility. The future of Oregon depends on us believing in that future. No one invests in a state they think is destined to fail. No one jumps on board a sinking ship. We’ll float and sail if we row in one direction and with shared goals in mind.
And, turns out, Oregonians have several common destinations in sight.
We see an Oregon where everyone has a place to call home (92% of Oregonians think it's important for leaders to help the unhoused).
We see an Oregon that protects its water and air quality (75% identify this as an important policy).
We see an Oregon were kids get the education they need to thrive (investments in k-12 education are backed by 70%).
We see an Oregon that's ready for whatever comes next, readied by investments in emergency disaster and preparedness (supported by 73%).
So, if you see a better, brighter Oregon, spread that optimism—two thirds of Oregonians are waiting to hear from you.
A final point worth remembering — our ranks are growing. Just as folks abandon a sinking ship, no one moves to a sinking state; that’s a fact that bodes well for Oregon. Even before several Oregon destinations became population known as "Zoom Towns," the state was experiencing an influx of individuals willing to bet on Oregon. Consider that in the 2010s nearly half a million people moved to Oregon (only 35,000 moved out).
If “demography is destiny” and if this blog has anything to say about it, then Oregon is destined for better days. There’s a lot of political bullsh*t, economic pain, and cultural discord out there — but underneath it all, there’s our belief in Oregon. Where that belief spreads, Oregonians will invest in one another, in their communities, and in the future of the state.
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