Adapt the following extensions or create new ones! Remember, the best extension is direct experience of Oregon's land and people!
Small Towns and the Making of Oregon
WRITE a series of diary entries about life in one of the small towns featured in the video. Use these diary entries to show how life has changed in this town over the years.
RESEARCH the Homestead Acts and their effects on the settlement and development of towns in Oregon. Without this legislation, how do you think Oregon would be different?
EXPLORE museums and exhibits that portray local histories of towns in Oregon. Keep a list of "I didn't know that!" statements about what you have learned from the displays and artifacts.
CREATE a brochure that explains the history of the community where you live. Even if you now live in a city, your local community may have once been a small town that was absorbed into the city. What caused this to happen?
LOCATE a small town in Oregon. Prepare a local history of this town, describing the industries that helped to build it. Include the "adjunct" industries that were important to the development of the town (e.g., transportation, mills, canneries, mining, ranching, farming, logging, fishing, tourism, ports, and the development of markets.)
DEVELOP a series of maps of the area defined as Oregon today, from the time prior to European settlement to the present. Include the locations of rivers, ports, small towns, farmlands, ranching areas, forests, railroads and other transportation routes, Indian reservations, and public lands.
Small Town Activities and Management
BUILD a three-dimensional model of a small town showing the basic services necessary for its existence and the economic, political, transportation, social, and educational institutions that support it.
ROLE-PLAY a dialogue between yourself and another person, one of you taking the role of a person living in a small town and one of you taking the role of a person living in a large city. Discuss the similarities and differences in your lives by considering typical activities, pace of life, amount of time spent outdoors, viewscape, common sounds, concerns and values, use of technology, and cultural and recreational opportunities. What would you miss if you were to exchange places with one another?
WRITE a fictional account that portrays how a small town affects life and the activities there. Explain the benefits as well as the limitations imposed (e.g., small population, lack of diversity, fewer educational and job opportunities) and how they might contribute to small towns disappearing in Oregon. Consider other works of fiction like Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, My Antonia by Willa Cather, and A Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick.
PREPARE and deliver a speech about the relationship among transportation routes, economic activities, and the viability of small towns.
EVALUATE the role of the schools and school spirit in the life of the small towns portrayed in the video. Discuss the inherent problems of the "cycle of educating its youth, only to surrender the graduates to the city." How does a small town's school spirit and the support from its community compare with that found at your school?
WRITE a descriptive narrative about what living in a company town like Kinzua might have been like at its peak, and contrast it with what it might have been like 50 years later when the timber mill was closing.
"Shop on Main Street": Small Town Economy
OUTLINE the pros and cons that faced the citizens of Joseph as it instituted an annual Blues Festival and began to remodel its downtown to fit its changing image.
POLL students in your school or community about the characteristics of a living place that they think should be included in a calculation of "livability." Use these criteria to rate the livability of several small towns and large cities in your area. Publicize the results of your poll in the community newspaper and conclude by making specific recommendations about how livability might be enhanced in your community.
PREPARE a graphic outlining the complete steps in the grape-growing and winemaking industries of Oregon. Include the possible environmental risks (e.g., birds, insects, climate, fungi) that affect this crop throughout the year.
CHART the process used by artists and craftspeople to create bronze statues. What factors contributed to this success story in Joseph?
RESEARCH the issues of growth and development, change and status quo, which have arisen in Dundee and Joseph. To what extent have similar issues arisen in your community?
RESEARCH the geological history of the John Day Fossil Beds. What guidelines do you think the public should follow when digging and collecting fossil materials?
DISCUSS the statement in the video that "for them [people in a small town] to survive, they were dependent on one another." How does adversity help to forge the feeling of community?
Innovation and Change
RESEARCH how technological changes (fax machines, broadband cable, the Internet, etc.) are affecting life in small towns.
PREPARE a set of questions and use them to interview someone who lives in or comes from a small town in Oregon. Find out what changes have occurred in his/her small town and what effect these changes have had on the town's relationship to the land. Write an article about this person and submit it to a local magazine or newspaper.
DEVELOP a decision-making process that you think a small town should use when proposing to make changes for its future. What possible obstacles to change should be anticipated? How should consensus for change be built among the town's citizens?
INVESTIGATE the role of "mega-stores" like Wal-Mart or factory outlets in what has been called "the death of Main Street." What are the positive and negative effects of these stores on a community? How are "Mom and Pop" stores affected by the competition from these giant stores?
DESCRIBE how changes in the logging, ranching, fishing, and farming industries have caused small towns to adjust.
TRACE settlement patterns in Oregon over the past 200 years.
EVALUATE the history of a small town (e.g., Shaniko, Gardiner, Wasco) where lives were altered as the resource base changed, as the market shifted, or as the modes and routes of transportation changed. Explain how people in these situations adapted to change. How do you adapt to change?
PRESENT a slide program on the history and future of small towns in Oregon. Provide support for your position.
IMAGINE that you are the mayor of an economically depressed town like Gardiner or Wasco. As Wheeler County Judge Burch stated, "we have to reinvent ourselves." Marketing their fossil beds, bringing broadband cable to the town, and raising gourmet cattle are three ideas the citizens of Fossil are trying. What proposals would you make to improve the viability of your town without sacrificing its special features and values?
The Savvy Citizen
ORGANIZE a debate or panel discussion about the future of Oregon and the issues of livability and quality of life that have arisen as a result of recent growth and development in Oregon.
Oregon now has a population of 3.2 million people, with an estimated one million more people projected by the year 2025. What effect do you think this growth will have on Oregon's livability, economy, and environment? What effect do you think this population growth will have on the future of small towns?
RESEARCH the pros and cons of current state law that requires cities in Oregon to have at least 20 years worth of developable land to accommodate growth. What effect do you think this law might have on small towns that want to keep the small town nature of their community?
DEBATE the following statement by Andy Kerr, President, Alternatives to Growth Oregon: "Slow growth is like being in an airplane that is going to inevitably crash, but it takes a long time. Smart growth is that you get to ride in first class while the plane is going down."
Only one in four Oregonians live in a small town today. Conclude what you think the future of Oregon's 1,000 current small towns will be.
In 1989, the Oregon Progress Board published Oregon Shines, a statewide vision for Oregon, which was developed by business, government, and community leaders. It states "the strength of communities in rural Oregon will depend upon the success of efforts to diversity local economies, add more value to the commodities produced and increase exports." To what extent do you agree that this recommendation makes sense for the small towns profiled in the video?
DRAW a map of your county and plot the major geographical features and the locations of large cities and small towns. Analyze the zoning and land-use laws and determine the percentage of your county that is urban, rural, agricultural, industrial, forested, etc.