Hi internet! 2016 has been a spectacularly rough year for just about everybody, but a bright spot for me personally has been the memories I’ve made with friends and family while exploring the outdoors. Whether biking to a local spot on the Willamette River to sunbathe, hiking the Oregon Coast, snowshoeing around frozen waterfalls on Mt Hood, or riding four hundred miles through the southern corners of the state with my dad, living in a community with such abundant outdoor activity opportunities has been really important for my physical and mental health this year, and I’m increasingly realizing how much access to outdoor shenanigans has been a reason I’ve always cherished living in my hometown. As Portland grows bigger, the need to provide more opportunities for every new and existing resident to get out there and bike, boat, float, fish, hike, picnic, swim, meditate, and whatever else liberal and conservative Oregonians are doing while they take fun summer selfies are all the more important, especially since thoughtful environmental stewardship of our natural areas has magnificent consequences for how we plan for climate change, protect clean water, preserve habitat for local species, and keep this region livable enough that people still want to live here, rising rents and all. There’s an astounding abundance of opportunity; Metro’s got a helluva blueprint that identifies the exact rivers, beaches, forests, prairies, parks and trails to make sure everybody in the region lives pretty darn close to a verdant greenspace that allows folks to get some exercise and breathe some cleaner air. In many cases, these public parks and natural areas end up being some of the most diverse public spaces I spend time in here in Oregon. I’m hardly suggesting that addressing “nature deficiency” is the most pressing matter in our communities in our current political landscape and era of austerity politics, but it’s clear to me that our local regional conservation movement is making some significant strides in building a coalition that collectively advocates for thoughtful, equitable, sustainable, cost-effective, and tremendously beneficial public policy.
These investments don’t happen over night; through working in various environmental and transportation circles throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to cross paths with the dozens of elected officials, nonprofit leaders, conservation advocates, and neighborhood rabblerousers who decided they wanted to play a role in squeezing in some green space in their community. I’ve met septenagarians who have championed piece by piece of the 40 mile loop trail, teenagers who testified to elected officials about how much they enjoyed the outdoor education and conservation programs that took them out to fish in the Sandy River, mountain bike advocates who are eager to roll up their sleeves and turn every empty lot into a potential pump track, birdwatchers who run contests to see how many species they can spot and tweet about in twenty four hours, thoughtful public sector ecologists and planners who are eager to plan for a community in which local wildlife and local portlanders can share a habitat, social justice groups pushing to direct government investment to MWESBs to promote triple bottom line investments…. the list goes on and on. This campaign, to me, represents part of the next chapter of the story of the 1970s Oregon exceptionalists: yeah, we’re gonna continue to commit to this notion that regional planning makes our lives better, and we’re going to continue to address how to tackle social, environmental, economic, and cultural issues through thoughtful land stewardship.
Measure 26–178 renews a levy that Metro passed in 2013 to ensure the government agency has the resources necessary to maintain the operations and maintenance of its existing facilities through 2023. It’s been a wonderful campaign to work on, and if you’re interested in getting involved, well, reach out; we’ve got some phone banks and some canvasses coming up, and I’d love to solicit your support (at the very least, you can like and share some of this amazing #content we’re churning out on social media).