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|Articles - February 2010|
|Wednesday, January 20, 2010|
Page 1 of 6
Small towns where trash equals cash are increasingly dependent on the huge companies that own Oregon’s dumps.
STORY BY ADRIANNE JEFFRIES // PHOTOS BY GARY OGILVIE
Arlington, population 610, gets a lot of traffic for a city with no stoplights. Eighty trucks rumble down Main Street daily, circling the downtown on their way to the biggest municipal solid-waste dump in the state.
The Columbia Ridge Landfill is 10 miles south of Arlington, neighbored by a few ranches and dozens of wind turbines spaced generously across the brown, windy plain. If viewed from above, it would look like a huge trash heap being smashed into the side of a small mountain. The sheer size is even more impressive once you realize that half the mountain is underground. The stench is wet and sulphurous.
Six-and-a-half million tons of trash is disposed of in Oregon every year. More than a third goes to Arlington, where almost 20 years’ worth of Seattle’s and Portland’s trash is buried.
Before the dump came to town in 1987, Arlington was in bad shape. The family farms that were the backbone of the local economy were dying, eventually dwindling from 350 to 50. Locals joked that the region’s two exports were wheat and kids, who moved away because there were no jobs.
The nation’s largest waste company, Waste Management, asked Gilliam County if it would be interested in being the “willing host community” for a large regional solid-waste facility. Locals were more than willing after they learned it would bring at least 35 family-wage jobs. Gilliam County Judge Laura Pryor and Arlington Mayor Dennis Gronquist went to bat for the landfill during months of land use hearings, public opposition and media scrutiny between 1987 and 1989 (“We really want Seattle’s garbage,” Pryor told the Associated Press). Most of the resistance during the two-year permitting process actually came from west of the Cascades, where people argued that trash could fly out of trucks on its way from Portland and land in the scenic area of the Columbia Gorge.
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Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
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When business intersects with family, a host of situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.
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Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.
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BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
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