‘Rays of light’

I had the opportunity to attend the Columbia Gorge Economic Symposium on Nov. 1. While this event included the presentation of historical trends in economic data for both Oregon and Washington Counties in the Gorge, the heart of the event was a panel discussion that provided some uplifting attitudes and accomplishments.

The following is a summary of my personal takeaways; the panelists discussed much more than what is mentioned here.

David Windsor of Cardinal Glass described their decision to train and promote from within, as opposed to recruiting talent from outside this area. He also mentioned their profit sharing plan for all employees.

Nicole Bassett of The Renewal Workshop (Cascade Locks) articulated a movement from a linear economy to a circular economy, a movement to refurbish rather than discard. She suggested that a new awareness and definition of “waste” versus “raw material” is necessary.

Mike Graham of Real Carbon marveled at the pace of technological change, specifically mentioning the robotic revolution and the path to replace boring and/or dangerous jobs with robots while creating higher paying jobs associated with factory automation. Jeanne Carver (Imperial Stock Ranch) explained how they hire for attitude and train for the skills needed, offering “family” membership to those willing to embrace the farm/ranch life.

Paul Jones, WyEast Timber Services, described their push to get “boots off the ground” using equipment wherever possible to increase worker health and safety as well as productivity.

Megan Thompson (Cascade Cherry Growers/Sage Fruit Company) highlighted the need to make our children aware of where their food comes from. Rudy Kellner (pFriem Family Brewers) suggested that this community make it easy for our youth to grow up here, leave for a while to gain education and/or experience — perhaps even global experience — and return to the Gorge to build new businesses.

Our Gorge economic strategy seems to be about healthy growth and more. I’m thankful for the public/private effort that produces this annual event. And I’m encouraged by the specific initiatives and thoughtful suggestions highlighted by the panelists.

Doug Roof

Hood River

Compromise

The people have spoken.  They support parks.

Before the LUBA appeals against the city and this initiative, I had thought our valley was moving towards both expanding our park land and making a commitment to affordable housing. Now our wonderful activist community seems pretty much split down the middle. Lots of harsh things were said on both sides.This measure is troublesome and could actually lead to less overall parkland. 

Other public entities, besides the city, will think twice about allowing a temporary  park use on their lands for fear a group might rise up to  campaign for a “forever park.” This was essentially the situation with Morrison Park.

But there is potential good to come out of all this. A lot of great new people became involved in advocating for parks.

Currently, we have a single use, Frisbee golf, in what has become known as Morrison Park.  If you’ve been there, then you know this short course is cut through a jungle of poison oak and that scourge of Oregon, blackberries. May I suggest we encourage the city council to revisit the original compromise for this land to make it half affordable housing and half a really outstanding park. Let’s get back to open process with hearings and then vote on it.  As someone pointed out, half of the Morrison land would roughly equal Jackson Park in size.

Let’s not leave our community open to accusations made during this campaign that we love our dogs and our lovely lifestyles here more than we care for people. This community is better than that. For heaven’s sake, who says the city has to give this land away or that we cannot find another location for Frisbee golf?

And besides affordable housing, maybe finally it’s time to refocus on a new Westside park with space for sports fields and many other activities.

Jeff Hunter

Hood River

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