Inside Out

Excerpt from Inside Out:

In the days of Teddy Roosevelt, conservation was a word that spoke of national pride. Conservation took another step forward in 1973, when President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act, which was passed by Republicans and Democrats. But, only a decade later, the pendulum swung dramatically in the opposite direction, and that same act divided Oregon by causing people to lose their forest jobs due to overriding concerns that logging levels were too high to sustain the spotted owl. I believe that was the critical moment when partisanship stepped in because people stopped listening to each other, and I understand. Because I had friends whose fathers lost their mill jobs in the 1980s, and I remember saying goodbye when those friends moved out of state because their families had to find work elsewhere. I also remember all the bumper stickers about spotted owls and fear of what would happen to rural Oregon if a Democrat got elected.

Many places in rural Oregon have not healed from those wounds to this day. People still worry about more being taken away--more jobs, more land, more rights, all the above. After years of traveling all over Oregon, talking to friends about the dirty word conservation has become, I've learned one thing about our state that many people don't want to acknowledge, the proverbial elephant in the room: the question of respect.

People want respect, pure and simple. Respect someone, and they'll trust you. Trust someone, and they'll let you in and show you that the narrow political definitions we apply to each other don't really fit. I believe there is a soul within each of us, but what makes Oregonians unique is that our souls exist as much inside as outside the body. Simply put, we're inside out.

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