What’s Your Story of Oregon?

Neighborhood Partnerships has just completed phase one of our Oregon Narrative project. We partnered with Metro and more than 2,000 members of the Opt In panel took time to share their thoughts. We wanted to know whether reminding folks of the vision many of us share is helpful as we launch conversations about what it will take to make that vision reality. The short answer? Yes! Our vision statement made people (8 out of 10) curious and ready to hear more about solutions.

We’ve been working for a while to try to re-train ourselves to communicate in ways that open up dialogue and conversation. So much of today’s political discourse is negative, focused on short term solutions, and wrapped up in telling a story that involves stark contrasts, heroes, and villains.

We would rather remind others and ourselves of the power we have when we try to be our best selves, together. We’re thrilled that our narrative seems to help us do that – create a receptive audience, so we can at least begin the conversations we need to have about our future as a state and a nation.

Perhaps because we have been working on our narrative, we’ve been sensitive to the use of narrative and Oregon stories by others. Two stand out to us: One by House Speaker Tina Kotek on the opening day of the Legislature, and one by Senator Chuck Thomsen about the “tuition equity” bill. Both tell a personal story, and remind us of our collective vision as Oregonians and as Americans. You can read Speaker Kotek’s speech here: Text of Speaker of the House Tina Kotek’s Speech to Joint Session and Senator Thomsen’s op-ed here: Why I support Tuition Equity for Oregon Students.

Next steps for our narrative project? We’ll be testing it a bit more, and then sharing what we learn with partners. Come to the Housing Alliance Lobby Day April 4th, or the Asset Builder’s Conference April 24th and 25th, and you’ll get the latest scoop on what we’ve learned.

In the meantime, here’s the latest version of our Oregon narrative.

“Oregon has a history of ingenuity, innovation and independence. Our state’s natural beauty, open spaces, and resources – from the rugged coastline to Steens Mountain, from lush farmland to high desert, from the mighty Columbia to the wild Rogue – have nurtured and inspired us for generations.

“We have worked hard to come together, and to build communities and the public systems – roads, schools, cities and towns – that sustain us. Today, we face a defining moment. We have new challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Our systems need an upgrade, and we see that past choices have opened the door to opportunity for some but not for all.

“We have the tools to create a better future, and to open doors for all Oregonians. We can harness our innovative spirit, our talent, and our energy. We can invest in people and create a better future for the next generation. We can ensure that every person, every family, and every community in Oregon can prosper.”