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Think Out Loud

Congress, Rural Style

Pete Springer/OPB

How much can a group of rural Oregonians influence statewide policy?

Oregonians are often quick to decry the so-called rural-urban divide among the state’s residents. Some eastern Oregonians have even talked about splitting off to form their own state. One group of elected officials and other rural leaders have another idea. They’re holding a meeting they’re calling the Rural Congress in Cascade Locks today and tomorrow to try and unify their voices to effectively influence the next legislative session.

The Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance has held conferences before, but this is the first time that coastal communities will be involved in the conversation. At least 20 different counties from the high desert to the beach will be represented at this meeting of the minds. They’ll discuss natural resources, economic developments, telecommunications and human services in rural areas. Roughly a quarter of Oregon’s population lives in these areas and many are hoping the action plans drafted by the Rural Congress will raise awareness about their specific needs and concerns among lawmakers at the state and federal levels.

Do you live in rural Oregon? What are your thoughts on the Rural Congress and their agenda? Are you an urban-dwelling Oregonian? What are your associations with your rural neighbors?


Photo credit: Meredith Farmer / Flickr / Creative Commons

cascade locks rural-urban divide

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