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The Soul of an Oregonian
When the creative art of photography first reached in and grabbed hold of my soul, it was in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Driving east one morning in late spring between Troutdale and Corbett felt magical, with light glowing in the meadows behind the leafed out deciduous trees that flanked the interstate. It looked like a fairy land.
I didn’t have my camera with me at the time, but my brain started making photographs in my head. The shapes, light, and color created a pastoral beauty I’d never witnessed before, nor seen anywhere else. I had to go back and capture this light...this unrivaled and stunning place.
It’s a dreamy, inspiring beauty that crawls into your very being and demands you pay attention.
For so many Oregonians, the Columbia Gorge is our church; our place of quiet contemplation and spiritual renewal. It’s where we meditate and escape the rigors of daily life. It’s where we create. It’s where we dream.
And it’s being consumed by wildfire.
This fire has many authors. It was lit by careless teenagers whose parents failed to oversee them. It was laid open by a fiercely hot summer without rain, exacerbated by climate change. It had become “Disney Gorge”, or so said my contemporaries, who saw it overrun by tourism and careless visitors choosing to clog the trails and choke out the streams. Some are asking if land management is also a contributor. While I haven’t the expertise to speak definitively on that topic, I find it plausible that the conditions for devastation were there regardless.
This might seem trivial to non-Oregonians. But if you’re from here, it’s a devastating blow. Imagine if Bostonians were to lose Fenway Park to a disaster. Not only would it take decades to rebuild, it would never be that place where the Red Sox finally won the World Series. In your lifetime, you’d never see Fenway in its glory, ever again.
That’s what this wildfire has done to our beloved Columbia River Gorge.
And so we grieve it’s loss and hope for it’s renewal. When the haze and smoke lift we will be able to truly take stock of the loss not only of our treasured landscape, but of the homes and businesses lost. Our love of this place is so ingrained in us that I have faith Oregonians will come together to heal it the best we can.
But for now, we mourn for our cherished place and we will miss it desperately.
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A Park for Adventurers
Rugged and vast, Cottonwood Canyon is one of Oregon’s largest state parks. With just over 8,000 acres, this special place invites you to stretch your legs, cast for fish and explore. Outside the park’s boundaries are a whopping 10,000 acres more of adjacent public lands, managed by the U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Cottonwood Canyon was made for the phrase, “getting away from it all”.

Before white settlers took hold of this land, the river was known as the Mah Hah to the Native Americans. For most of the 19th Century it was Murtha Ranch, which grazed cattle across both sides of the Mah Hah, renamed the John Day River. 
Cottonwood Canyon became an Oregon State Park in 2013. With help from Oregon Lottery dollars, it’s been transformed into a wilderness and recreation experience for the bold and adventurous. In 2019, more than $2 million in Lottery funds were used to build a learning center, cabins, and restrooms making it easier for visitors to set up a base camp from which to explore all Cottonwood Canyon has to offer. 
Plans are in the works to build a boat launch for easier access to the clear and open waters of the John Day, the largest free flowing river in the western United States. This undammed waterway is home to a year-round angler’s delight. Winter native steelhead, catfish, and summer small-mouth bass mean the fish are constantly biting.

Down the road, there’ll be more ways to access the wild, back country of Cottonwood Canyon. Miles of new hiking trails will soon give willing explorers the ability to get deep into the park where elk, Bighorn Sheep, Golden Eagles and rattlesnakes dwell. Even now, a walk just a mile from the campground will often yield sightings of wild birds, deer and elk. 

This is Oregon’s big sky country. On moonless nights the Milky Way is a common visitor. The park structures were designed to keep the campground from creating light pollution and it’s far removed from the nearest city. The stars at Cottonwood Canyon are something to behold.

Whether you choose to visit when spring turns the hills green or in winter when snow blankets the cliffs, just make sure you go to this unique and special place. It’s worth the trip and then some.
Translating Policy to Plain Language Sample
Oregon Leads the Way
Urban and rural reserves in the Portland area
Oregon is blessed with incredible geographic diversity, unique ecosystems, and jaw-dropping scenic beauty. What’s more, our state contains within its borders some of the best farmland in the country. Whether it’s for growing food, attracting tourism, or enhancing our quality of life, Oregon’s unique land use system was created to protect and conserve these vital resources.
In 1973, Oregonians drew from their pioneering spirit to lead the way on a bold, new plan. They created an innovative land use policy that retained the state's wild places, kept them publicly accessible, set aside land for farming, and kept Oregonians in charge of it all. Signed into law on May 29, 1973, Oregon Senate Bill 100 created the structure for our land use planning system. It required every Oregon county and city to follow a set of general goals, and then create a comprehensive plan to use the land in their boundaries. The law made sure to preserve local responsibility for decisions, but allowed for public interest at the state level to also weigh in. That state level interest is supervised by the Land Conservation and Development Commission. This unique partnership has helped to inspire similar programs all over the US.

Most innovative and bold programs have challenges, and Oregon’s land use law is no exception. By 2005, it was clear the Portland region was growing more quickly than the existing system could handle. Under the law, each city in the state is required to draw a boundary between where development is allowed and where agriculture and natural areas will remain. This is known as an Urban Growth Boundary, or UGB. It was set up to protect farmland and natural places from urban sprawl. 
But the law also required a 20 year supply of available land for building and development. Boundaries couldn’t be expanded into areas where the soil quality was exceptionally high, to help maintain the very best land for farming. Population growth made it more and more difficult to make room for new housing and businesses in the urban communities of Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah counties. Farmers and forest landowners on the edges of the UGB were struggling too. Every five years there was uncertainty about whether their land would be targeted for urbanization. This made it extremely difficult for many to plant orchards or commercial forests, which need years to mature. 
In 2007, the Oregon Legislature added a new tool for the Portland area to shape the future of land use: urban and rural reserves. Rural reserves are land that won’t be considered for urban development for at least 50 years. This gives farmers and commercial foresters stability for long term management of crops, orchards, and forests. Soil quality is still a consideration, but it’s balanced by also considering financially viable farms and commercial forestland. Cities must also factor in wetlands, floodplains, savannahs and other significant natural areas, to protect them, too. Urban reserves are lands potentially suited for urban development over the next 50 years.

To decide which lands should be urban reserves and which should be rural reserves, the Metro regional government brought together a committee of farmers, foresters, environmentalists, developers, elected officials, residents and others to make recommendations to Metro and the county commissions in Washington, Clackamas, and Multnomah. After many months of talking with the public, presentations, and study the committee made their recommendations. The urban and rural reserves recommendations were sent to the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission, which approved the reserves in 2011.

While the policy is generally settled, conversations about the reserves still continue. In 2014, the Oregon Court of Appeals changed some of the urban and rural reserves. Later that year, Governor Kitzhaber signed a bill that addressed some of the issues, but not all of them. These ongoing and robust conversations demonstrate Oregonians’ commitment to using their land carefully and wisely. And while it can be a complex and lengthy process, land use laws protect our farms, forests and natural places for the next generation.

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Oregon Innovation
Good afternoon (evening/morning). My name is XXXXXXX. Since XXXX, I have been the Representative for House District XX, which lies at the heart of Washington County.  It’s often said that Washington County is the “Economic Engine of Oregon,” and for good reason.  Many of the people in our district work at Nike or Intel or Columbia Sportswear. Many of our neighbors also work at Genentech, Solar World or small businesses that contribute to the tech sector, like Prolifiq. These companies and others like them are key parts of Oregon’s growth economy. One of the reasons I love my district is that it’s home to so many innovators who are responsible for breaking new ground in their fields. They’re helping keep Oregon’s economy moving forward.
This is also why I love Oregon. We know what it means to lead the way.
Oregon is a state of innovators.  This innovation drives our economic growth.  It’s what allows us to build a state that continues to offer opportunities, and to protect the quality of life we treasure.
Whether in footwear, technology, or public policy, our history as a state is steeped in innovation.  Oregon is the home of the Bottle Bill.  We invented public beaches. We’re the place where revolutionary land use policies were fully embraced. Oregon is an example to the world of what can happen when a state comes together and decides to blaze our own trail.  
Who knew that when Bill Bowerman first poured urethane on to a waffle iron that it would play such a huge role in lighting the spark not just for a hugely successful, Oregon business icon, but for an entire sport? Bowerman’s work not only with running shoes but with improving track surfaces, equipment and training methods was breathtaking in its impact. But he was never satisfied. When I worked for Nike I remember hearing the stories about his work ethic.  Whenever someone would present a new concept to Bowerman, no matter how revolutionary or fantastic, they always got the same reaction.  He would ask, accusingly “Is that the best you can do?” He was constantly looking for the lighter, faster shoe. He was always demanding more from his teams.
Bowerman’s intersection with sports and science was true innovation and in the spirit of his Oregon roots. Creating that first running shoe made Bowerman the pioneer for the advent of a track dynasty that still lives at the University of Oregon. That spark has spread to other sports in the far reaches of the globe. His constant striving for excellence was the template that keeps Nike on the cutting edge.
We’re rightly proud of people like Bill Bowerman and his work. But now a new generation of Oregonians must take hold of that innovation mantel and move us forward. And we need to set them and you up for success.
The way I see it, there are three main public ingredients for innovation: A strong education system, a culture of makers and innovators, and an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship.

So what can make Oregon more successful when it comes to innovation? It starts in our schools. The key to unlocking our state’s innovation potential is a robust education system that nurtures the innovators of the future.  When individuals can live up to their full potential, Oregon can live up to hers. That begins in the classroom.
A number of years ago I was working with the Start Making A Reader Today program, also known as SMART. For those that don’t know, it’s a program in which volunteers come into schools to read with kids who need a little extra boost.  I read every week with a couple of kids. One of them was a little red-headed guy named Zeus. Zeus had a big personality and a whole bunch of challenges. As part of working with the kids, I insisted that they read as well, or at least make an effort. It was never clear to me that Zeus liked the reading much until I had to miss a week, and had to get a substitute to fill in. When I returned the following week, Zeus was gone but he had left a note.  The note asked if I’d been killed or eaten by a bear. Or had I fallen into a volcano? 
Complete with a picture of a volcano  …  and me falling in it.. (PAUSE--this is a laugh line)
As it turned out, Zeus really did enjoy our time together. He seemed to thrive on the consistency and accountability that came with those sessions. At the end of the year, we went our separate ways, better for the experience together.
Fast forward a few years ago, and I found myself touring a Beaverton middle school with the principal. I saw Zeus in the band room. I didn’t recognize him at first, but I heard the teacher call out his name and sure enough, it was him.  I told the principal about our SMART experience and asked how he was doing. She said he still had some challenging circumstances at home but that he’d found consistency at this school and was on track to succeed.  
That experience across several years underscored for me how vital it is to make connections with kids from an early age and the need for an investment in that consistency so that they can realize that they are valued, and stay on track. All kids benefit, but it’s particularly for kids like Zeus that we must absolutely fully fund education year in and year out so that he has a shot at fully realizing his potential. That’s good not just for Zeus, it’s good for all of Oregon because when these young Oregonians realize their full potential, our state benefits from the talent already here.  
At the same time it isn’t just about students who were born in the U.S. We’ve got students coming here from all over the world to study at our colleges and universities. They get a wonderful education and contribute a great deal to their campuses. And then when they’re finished with their studies and graduate with a degree, many leave, taking all that education, and talent,as well as our investment, with them. We have to reverse that trend in Oregon.
It’s been shown that when talented, creative and productive people come together in the same place, they’re able to collaborate and innovate and create new things. You all know the Medici Effect. It’s named after the Medici family, whose patronage brought scientists, philosophers, and artisans from around Europe to Florence, Italy, between the 13th and 17th centuries. This collaboration is a big part of what kicked off the Renaissance period, a time in human history marked by great innovation.  We must do all we can to make Oregon a home for those who come here to live, work and study. It’s how we’ll make innovation thrive in our state.

Oregon is already taking advantage of our talent. High tech firms like Intel are worldwide leaders. But we’ve also got a modest and growing culture of makers and creators who are innovating in their own ways.
Puralytics is a great example of an Oregon-grown company of makers. They’ve figured out the process for using sunlight to activate nanotechnology that purifies water. Mark Owen is their CEO and he calls himself a “serial entrepreneur” . And he is. But he’s also a “serial maker.” Mark turned this science into something called a “solar bag”. I actually have one of these things in my garage. It’s a portable water purifier that uses the solar nanotechnology. But solar bags can really only purify enough water for one person per day.  So they decided to think bigger. How could they create something that would purify a larger body of water?  Now they’ve got these things called “Lily Pads”, which sit on top of ponds or open-topped water tanks and use this light technology to purify the water. They’re even working to adapt it to clean storm water or water for crops. It has tremendous commercial potential. And it’s being done right now in Beaverton.  
It’s exciting to see. And we must continue a climate that fosters this entrepreneurial spirit. I think of Christine and David Vernier, who moved to Oregon years ago because of our state’s amazing quality of life, thanks in part to our land use laws and gorgeous scenery. The Verniers were teachers who found that their side business creating software for use in science classrooms were helpful and popular with other teachers. So they started doing it full time. Now they have over 100 employees and have been listed more than once as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon. There are stories like Christine and Dave’s all over our state. 
For us to continue to grow this innovation economy, Oregon has to retain and attract the best and the brightest. We have to maintain the quality of life unique to this part of the world through robust environmental policy and capital investments in public infrastructure.  
Oregon is a place where you can work for someone else if that’s your decision. But we’re also a place where you can start your own business and work for yourself. You can blaze your own trail. You can lead the way. 
We must continue our work to support Oregonians in their dreams and aspirations by investing in education,supporting our maker culture and ensuring the quality of life that draws innovators to us.
That work doesn’t get done alone.  To overcome the challenges we face, we need everyone to be involved.  That includes you, so as you leave our conversation today, I hope you’ll find some aspect of innovation that inspires you, and look for a way to be involved and to bring others with you.  We need to hear from you in the legislature, and Oregonians everywhere need to be part of conversations about our future.  So please, take the chance to help us build a better Oregon.
The future needs you. Let’s unleash together the promise of our people and unlock the promise of our state.
Thank you.

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A force of nurture: 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year – Mercedes Muñoz
The very best teachers are the ones who inspire their students to reach for the stars. The Oregon Lottery is proud to sponsor the Oregon Teacher of the Year because we believe in celebrating teachers who are truly transforming lives and communities in our state.
Teacher. Advocate. Mentor. Coach. 2020 Oregon Teacher of the Year Mercedes Muñoz does all of that and more, but in a classroom full of kids from historically underserved communities. Mercedes provides daily hope and encouragement to a wide range of students with different academic, social and emotional needs.
Mercedes is a learning specialist at Franklin High School in Portland. She’s described as a “force of nurture” and a champion for the learning needs of all students, ensuring they are seen, heard and prepared for their lives after high school. She’s a member of the Franklin High Equity Team, and very involved in the recruitment of historically underserved students to the school’s Advanced Placement Program.
In short, Mercedes Muñoz is transforming the lives of those in her classroom and helping her students find the best in themselves. There are hundreds of teachers who provide that same impact for kids all over Oregon and Lottery dollars help support what they do.
Is there a teacher in your community who deserves to be recognized for their amazing work? Nominate them today for Oregon Teacher of the Year.
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Our region has been in the midst of an ongoing conversation about affordable housing and homelessness. Housing affordability has become an escalating problem for many in Clackamas, Washington, and Multnomah counties. But what is often left out of that conversation are the especially problematic issues of housing for people of color.
A long history of discriminatory policies and systemic injustices means too many African American, African, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific Islander, refugee, and immigrant people who live here have a much harder time accessing safe housing they can afford. People of color in our community are disproportionately impacted by rising rents and home prices. The strong, resilient communities we have built are being eroded by our region’s housing crisis.  
The outcomes are clear: a greater number of people of color experience homelessness, live in substandard housing, and pay a high percentage of their income for housing. The housing crisis is falling hard on many families of color.
We can and must do better. All of us are at risk of losing what makes where we live truly special.
Measure 26-199 gives us a way to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, at very little cost to anyone. This November, voters in the Portland metro area can help by voting YES on this bond. Measure 26-199  will build and preserve affordable homes in the region. It’s absolutely vital that our community has more safe, affordable, housing for families and individuals who live in our community.
Affordable housing shortages, like the one we’re seeing now, mean people are displaced from their neighborhoods and have to move far away from their jobs and schools. That displacement tears at the fabric of our communities. The bond associated with Measure 26-199  provides for local control, so each community can decide what works best for them. In our view, that helps ensure that communities of color will be heard and served.
This bond will create thousands of quality, affordable homes that will help meet the housing needs of our families and communities, including those who face the greatest economic barriers to making ends meet.

Everyone in our region will benefit by giving communities in every county the freedom to use affordable housing bonds to partner with the non-profits and businesses of their choosing to make homes more affordable for local residents. By doing this together, we will preserve livability for our region and keep our communities strong.
We urge your YES vote to help ensure safe and affordable housing. Please join us and vote YES for Measure 26-199 on November 6. 
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Original blog post with image can be found here.
We can honor Cindy Yuille by curbing gun violence in Oregon

On December 10th of last year, Jenna Passalacqua wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit. She wasn't going to get a tree and was planning to keep the whole holiday on the down low. But her mom, Cindy Yuille, had a different idea. She left a Christmas tree and a box of ornaments and lights at Jenna's doorstep to surprise her and lift her spirits.
That's just the kind of person Cindy was. "She was kind and generous and accepting of people", Jenna said when I sat down with her and Cindy's husband Robert Yuille earlier this week. 
A day after leaving the Christmas surprise for her daughter,  Cindy was shot and killed by a masked gunman, the first victim in the shooting at Clackamas Town Center.
Jenna and Robert keep Cindy's spirit alive. A picture of Cindy with Robert and his son Hunter is displayed in their dining room. The kitchen that Cindy lovingly decorated remains intact, the bright and warm atmosphere evidence of her personal touch. When Jenna and Robert talk about Cindy and the kind of woman she was, they smile and sometimes look off into the distance, as if they can see her standing nearby in the room. 
"We would have been married eight years in November," Robert said. "She was about as normal as it gets. She was a good cook, she sewed, she did all the painting in here, she was a gardener. She was a very intelligent woman." Their life together was very active. "We hiked, we skied, we camped, we boogie boarded and traveled." They traveled all over the world, in fact. And Cindy was the organizer, he said. 
Jenna remembers her mom as a stay at home parent who was deeply involved with her school and activities. Cindy was well known because of her visibility in the community. But Cindy was also a woman who took initiative. When they lived in San Diego during the 90s, the city didn't have a recycling program. Cindy went around and collected all the neighbor's cans and got them recycled herself. When they moved to Oregon, she petitioned Fred Meyer to carry organic milk before having an organic section was the thing to do.
"She was absolutely incredible," Jenna said. "She just did it all. She was a very strong woman who stood up for what she believed in."
Cindy's family lost her to a terrible act of gun violence. An act that may very well have been prevented. It's loss that's felt very, very deeply.
Jenna's op-ed in yesterday's Oregonian says much about the loss they feel:
"In the United States we are free and proud to speak our minds, go where we please and own guns if we want. Until my mom was murdered, I didn’t think twice about feeling safe in a mall, school or movie theater.
But in 365 days, I’ve become a different person. I’m driven to take action. Gun violence left a gaping hole in my family, tore apart our community and showed us we aren’t immune."
But even this horrific, high profile act of gun violence hasn't moved the Oregon Legislature to action. Last session, four gun safety bills were scuttled during the session. Even a bill to close a background check loophole went by the wayside, leaving the door wide open for those with a history of violence or with a serious mental illness to have access to guns.
With 75% of Oregon GUN OWNERS in favor of background checks, this lack of action is ludicrous in the extreme. Not to mention shameful.
More from Jenna's op-ed:
"I’m working with Oregon Alliance to Prevent Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns to combat gun violence because while no single solution will prevent all massacres, we can still prevent more families from experiencing this grief.
While Oregon already requires background checks on guns bought from dealers or at gun shows, private gun sales create a dangerous loophole that caters to criminals, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous individuals. Background checks help prevent those people from getting guns — and they’re supported by 81 percent of Oregonians."
A wonderfully smart, gifted woman was ripped from her family. An obviously troubled young man was able to gain access to weapons that weren't locked away out of his reach. And even if you believe that an off-duty security guard stopped the shooter because he was carrying a gun, an open question for many, that wouldn't have saved Cindy Yuille.
"My mom was killed with the first bullet that was shot. So even if there was some 'good guy with a gun', that wouldn't have stopped my mom from being killed.",  Jenna said. "She would still be dead."
"We need to stop the first shot from being fired, " said Robert. 
While the Oregon Legislature hasn't managed to take action, the community-at-large has. Jenna and Robert say they are incredibly grateful for all the support they've received following Cindy's murder. "All the people that have donated things to us, those things have actually got to us", Robert said. "It's really helped our family and our home, and it's very much appreciated."
A candlelight vigil will be held this evening at dusk in the open area near the Clackamas Town Center Cinemas, in remembrance of those who were murdered on December 11, 2012.

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