Our Promise to Oregonians

In 2015, 1000 Friends of Oregon celebrates four decades of advocating for healthy, productive communities.
Here’s to the next 40 years and beyond.

Most people think about the future in terms of flying cars or the next big technological convenience. As a watchdog and advocate for livable rural and urban communities, it’s our job to ensure Oregonians never have to worry about a gutted agri-cluster. We’re the ones who advocate for access to affordable (flying or otherwise) public transportation and rail against costly sprawl. Our organization is held to a higher standard, and we embrace it.

MAX Hillsboro 185th Station.

So when we started thinking about the future of land use and what we wanted to accomplish, 1000 Friends of Oregon’s policy director Mary Kyle McCurdy asked some tough questions:

“Will we embrace the challenges of the 21st Century? Will we embrace them as opportunities for Oregon and Oregonians to prosper or simply react with the inadequate responses of the last century?”

At 40, an age when well-meaning strangers begin calling you “ma’am,” it’s easy to look back on your accomplishments and forget the fight. But we don’t have that option. Oregon is growing. Our climate is changing. And as long as urban sprawl threatens to consume the most fertile farmlands, housing costs skyrocket, and the impacts of climate change translate into forest fires and flooding, we will rise to the challenge with innovative solutions and unadulterated courage.

Sprawl in the form of a cluttered car lot.

We can’t go it alone. Greenhouse gas emissions and inclusionary zoning are too-big Goliaths for one David to defeat. That’s why our mission depends on the passion of community leaders, young advocates, and volunteers.

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say, ‘This is my community, and it’s my responsibility to make it better.’”
-Tom McCall, former governor and 1000 Friends of Oregon co-founder

As Oregonians who live and labor and love in communities around the state, we need a direction for the future. So how will we avoid the inadequate responses of the past? The simple answer is that we don’t shy away from the seemingly insurmountable issues. We toughen up and tackle them head on.

Silver Falls in Marion County.

This means finding strength in our numbers. And listening to what our neighbors want. It means advocating for our growing and changing communities, as well as protecting our industries and jobs. Ultimately, it means combining “old school” solutions with new leadership initiatives.

In the 1970s, we battled sprawl. Today, the fight is for inclusion. People are realizing the beauty of our state, and we need to share our spaces without sacrificing the characteristics that make Oregon great. Too often economically depressed towns and communities of color are denied access to affordable housing and public transit. The decisions we make now will impact Oregonians hundreds of years from now. We must find a way to make land we have work for all the people we welcome.

Cows grazing at Smith Rock. Photo: Joel Burslem
Red Hills Vineyard. Photo: Stuart Seeger

So what is our promise for the next 40 years?

We promise to gather around a table with our neighbors near and far, listen closely, and continue fighting for a shared state, one seemingly insurmountable issue at a time.

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