Finding Oregon's common thread
By Susan Bragdon
The Oregon Sustainability Experience
People often describe Oregon as "ungovernable" because of the diversity of its communities — the "liberal" folks from the Willamette Valley, the "conservatives" from east of the Cascades as well as the great economic disparities across the State. There is, however, a common thread that runs through all of Oregon’s communities and with proper investment and nurturing it can be a source of economic strength and cohesion. The common thread is sustainability.
Let me explain. Sustainability not only embraces diversity, it depends on it. Sustainable practices, processes and products cover an enormous range of areas from traditional agriculture to the high tech world of nanotechnology. Consequently, it is an "equal opportunity employer" with as much relevance to a rancher in Burns, a nursery grower in Halsey, a timber producer in Medford, a farmer in Prineville, an architect in Portland or a high tech executive in Corvallis. By affording the opportunity for all to share in its potential for economic development, sustainability can bring all of Oregon’s communities within its framework and supporting its endeavors.
Many established Oregon-based companies or companies with a major presence in the state have a conspicuous and growing commitment to sustainability, including, for example, Nike, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Norm Thompson, a number of firms in the architecture/design sector such as Gerdling Edlen and ZGF architects; and firms specializing in regional and urban planning.
There are also many new businesses or clusters of businesses emerging or transforming as a result of a sustainability orientation. Examples include:
Susan H. Bragdon, among other things, is the Director of the Oregon Sustainability Experience, www.theoregonsustainabilityexperience.org.
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