Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oregon Rural Congress meets during rough patch

UPDATE, Sept. 8: "Rural Oregonians were feeling tramped on, abused and ignored. But instead of just complaining, they decided to get together," reports Bill Bishop in the Daily Yonder, citing an interview with the chief organizer, an editorial from the Baker City Herald and a story by Ethan Schowalter-Hay in The Observer of La Grande. (Original post follows.)

The Oregon Rural Congress met for what was "largely an airing of perceived obstacles to rural prosperity," reports Matthew Preusch of The Oregonian of Portland. Nearly 200 people showed up for what Preusch says was "an effort to pioneer a common agenda" for a report to state and federal officials.

"The congress comes during a rough year for rural Oregon," Preusch notes. "Budget cuts closed the state Office of Rural Policy, the Oregon congressional delegation has been unable to win renewal of a county payment program crucial to many budgets, and a new state ethics law led to widespread resignations on local boards and commissions." There was a widespread view in the congress, which meets annually, that state government is an urban entity that largely dismisses the needs of state's rural population. (Read more)

The Oregonian said in an editorial the day the congress ended, "Too many urban decisions ignite wildfires of unintended consequence that ravage rural communities. ... As they drive home, they might do well to remember just how much of this state's wealth, plywood to pinot noir, remains tied up in rural lands." Ultimately both rural and urban Oregonians need to understand, the editorial said, "that Oregonians are in this together, and there's no future in deepening the political divide in this state." To read the editorial click here.

1 comment:

Doug Overlock said...

I lived in rural Oregon for over 20 years. This is just the latest scrum to try and get some attention from Salem because the leaders of rural Oregon only get elected by whining about how neglected the poor voters in the hinterlands are. (About 10 years ago they creates something called, I think, the "Eastern Oregon Alliance".)

For many years I tried to change the subject from acting as victims to acting as catalysts, but it was always safer to commisserate than to act. Some of the players have changed, many are still the same, but the play remains the same.

It is this victim mentality more than anything else, I believe, that keeps making rural American poorer and dumber.