Hood River can sometimes feel like an island.
It’s the second-largest but most vibrant city in the Gorge, but it can seem like a place set apart, between the bridge and the 18-mile distance from The Dalles and hour’s drive to Portland.
Yet, Hood River is a connected place.
I make this point in response to Rick Larson’s letter in the July 3 paper (“Misleading”). He questioned our coverage of the rally last week, an event that was critical of Sen. Chuck Thomsen individually, and Senate GOP in general, for the Republican walkout over HB 2020. The article headline read “Get Back To Work” and the subhead stated, “Hood River groups call for Sen. Chuck Thomsen to return to the Capitol or face recall attempt.”
(The day after publication, the Senators did return to Salem from their hiding places in Idaho and other parts unknown, and with their Democrat colleagues hurriedly zipped through 100 pieces of legislation like they were looking through paint chips at the hardware store.)
Rick’s letter is a fairly thoughtful one, and I won’t take this space to debate the issue of HB 2020, the so-called cap-and-trade bill.
Nor will I pick apart the rest of Rick’s letter, except for two points:
Point one — The statement that the gathering was “an orchestrated photo op staged by out-of-towners to grab a headline and further their own agendas.” He adds, “Sadly, Mayor Paul Blackburn chose to attend and side with these out-of-area activists.”
We were informed of the event by several local residents, and the suggestion that anyone behind the rally wanted to push “their own agendas” is simply not true — unless your definition of “agenda” is a real and earnest fear for the future of the planet.
As to Mayor Blackburn, yes, his “agenda” has for years included opposing fossil fuel transport through the Gorge and other environmental concerns. He’s leaving office, and the community, in September, and has nothing personal or political to gain from attending the rally.
Point two — As to Rick’s main point, taking us to task for the “Hood River groups” reference in the headline: Granted, we might have phrased that differently, and that was the editor’s decision.
True, SOME of the groups involved are based in Hood River. Not so for others, such as Causa Oregon, Ecumenical Ministires of Oregon, Renew Oregon and Oregon League of Conservation Voters. But that does not mean Hood River is not present in them. And what counts is the cooperation between Hood River-based groups and those with shared concern.
This brings us back to that matter of Hood River peoples’ connectedness.
Some of the groups may not be based in Hood River, but they have a strong Hood River base, as in members and active participants from this community, and the Gorge as a whole, who serve those groups.
Causa, for example, is a repeated presence at local events, raising awareness of immigration and other social justice concerns, and local people serve as organizers, speakers, and the clean-up crew at these events. Key players in groups including Ecumenical Ministries live in Hood River.
Rick Larsen is correct in pointing out that some of the rally participant groups were not “Hood River.” We would have phrased the headline differently, if we did it again.
But these groups would not be coming to Hood River if not for Gorge people acting locally while thinking globally.