I WASN’T SURE IT COULD GET ANY BETTER than the sparkling day that greeted us in Astoria, the first stop of our rollicking 1,800-mile ride through Oregon.
With our RV loaded with business and civic leaders from around the state, the Business is Good tour was on the hunt in September for innovation, reinvention and inspiration, and Astoria delivered in buckets. With grit, creativity and passion, the leaders in this tiny historic town at the mouth of the Columbia gave us an eye- and earful about how a depressed fishing village became a community with a future that now seems boundless.
But on each leg of the trip, it did get better. Not that Astoria was bested by Salem or Medford had it over The Dalles, but that we found the same passion and pride in every stop along the way. And as my boss, publisher Gillian Floren, imagined, this business rave was also a chance for connections and conversation among old friends and newly minted ones.
I imagine that it will be the beer (locally brewed and sustainably produced, of course) shared by the urban government official and the rural businesswoman that will create the collaboration needed to solve the state’s many challenges.
If you couldn’t come along for the ride, check out the daily diary the Oregon Business editors have been writing at oregonbusiness.com/tourblog. Our live coverage gives you a flavor of the tremendous people we met in every community on our 20-town tour and also of the fun we had. Not to be missed is the video of the ever-game Betsy Johnson, Democratic state senator from Scappoose, hitching a ride on the side of the road, sign in hand, as the tour bus headed through her hometown.
We’ll also be devoting our next issue to the news that we found in our travels. Oregon is re-imagining itself — east to west, urban to rural — and what we discovered is much bigger than can fit into one issue of the magazine.
But like the tour itself, it’s a great place to start. In November, we’ll examine the downtowns and industries that are changing and how communities and businesses are focusing on sustainable practices.
Our journey around the state had an end (because really, you can’t party forever, and we had to return the RV at some point). But it is only the beginning of the story of Oregon’s reinvention.