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Think Out Loud

Our Town: Woodburn

Pete Springer/OPB

Woodburn may be best known to many as the home of Woodburn Company Stores — an popular outlet mall — or possibly the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest that happens every spring, but the town is so much more. Woodburn epitomizes the stories of immigration and growth that hit the headlines regularly.

The population of Woodburn consists largely of Latinos, primarily from Mexico — people who came north to work on the farms, settled, and are now raising families, starting businesses, and supporting other friends and family members back home. There’s also a considerable community of Orthodox Russians — largely Old Believers — that live in the countryside on the outskirts of town. Their main strip, Bethlehem Avenue, consists of three churches that pop out from amidst the fields. Many of their kids go to public school, but the group remains socially isolated. And finally there are the over 1500 homes for seniors that nestle around a golf course just east of I-5. Many of these people are not originally from Woodburn. They, too, seem to remain somewhat isolated.

The town is dealing with issues of growth and change. How should the downtown properly reflect the community? How should the schools manage with an increasing number of kids? Where should farm workers live? What should be done about gangs and decrepit buildings? Are the Woodburn Company Stores the key to economic success or just an annoyance for people trying to get into town?

In this program we’ll explore the community of Woodburn. Have you visited, or do you live in Woodburn? What do you think makes the town unique? What do we need to know about Woodburn?

Here’s a collection of photos from our live show:


We’ve put together a companion website for the Our Town series. Head over there to check out our interactive map which includes interviews and photographs of the people and places of Woodburn.

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