Tag Archive: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark


State of Excitement

“We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” – Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall (1967-1975).

mccall

The sun is out. The rain is falling. The steam is rising off the concrete.

It’s just another sunny, rainy, steamy day in the State of Excitement.

Even though McCall and yours truly both earned journalism degrees from the University of Oregon and affiliate with the right side of the aisle, I suspect the dearly departed governor would be unhappy with me.

I moved from California to Oregon.

Yes, I am personally responsible for rising housing costs, freeway congestion and polluted campgrounds…even though I don’t camp. If you don’t believe me, just ask some of the Oregonians who don’t even know me.

Truth be known, I have lived in Oregon (second time) since 2010 and this time around I have not once heard any rhetoric about being a dirty rotten “Californicator.” There is a good reason for this absence of vitriol; the vast majority of Californians – despite the well documented problems in the Golden State – don’t want to move to Oregon.

It all boils down to what the Realtors call: Tradeoffs. Does a Californian want to trade a warm, sunny Mediterranean climate for a lousy temperate weather pattern, but in most instances a better quality of life?

When is it most difficult to live in Oregon? January and February, when the days are short and the weather is damp, cold and wet? Or May and June, when the days are long and the weather is damp, cool and wet?

oregonrain

In Oregon, you expect January and February to be crummy and Mother Nature obliges. In May and June, you are looking forward to summer. Will summer ever come?

California became a state in 1849 largely as a result of the discovery of gold and the Iron Horse. Oregon became a state 10 years later. Long before, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark trudged more than 4,100 miles to discover a soggy spot (Seaside) in a wet place (Oregon).

Periodically, I am asked if I would ever go back to California. Anything is possible, but not probable. Why? Living in Eugene, Oregon is easy. Keep in mind, I have not shed my Type A personality. I will never subscribe to Doris Day’s Que Sera, Sera.

What I have no desire to do again is the East Bay’s Sunol Grade or the San Mateo Bridge and paying $6 for the privilege. The prospect of 45 minutes one-way on a GOOD day or about two hours or more of my time each working day is just not worth it. Life is simply too short to spend more than half-a-day out of each week behind a steering wheel. Oregon gives these hours back to me, every day.

That’s huge.

The other stunning factor of California reality are the real estate prices…$3,500 per month (or more) in mortgage payments or rent and another $1,000 a month for property taxes, let alone utilities…to live in an underwater negative equity McMansion, which serves as the base for your next mind-numbing commute. That’s a price that I do not want to contemplate, let alone pay.

My South Eugene tree house is valued just north of $300,000 and I own it outright. If you magically transported and dropped my house in Silicon Valley, it would be worth about $1.3 million. Maybe, some Silicon Valley stock-option millionaire could bail me out of my mortgage prison and set me free…or maybe not.

I have been there; done that.

Shhh!!! There are days in Oregon when the sun shines, the air is warm and skies are blue. When these days arrive…and they do…Oregonians (yes, I am proudly one of them) head out on the trails, barbecue on our decks, sit under Douglas fir trees…and marvel at the wonders of life.

We have seasons, real seasons. In LA, it was overcast in the morning, hazy sunshine in the afternoon, highs in the 80s or 90s; lows in the 50s and 60s day-in, day-out for months on end. I refused to breathe any air that I couldn’t see.

Give me the deer grazing under the deck of my house. Give me the leaves falling in football season and the Autzen Stadium tailgate party. Give me the longer days of spring and everything blooming. Winter is a drag, but with very little (if any) snow.

There are tradeoffs between Oregon and California. Yogi Berra said that when you come to a fork in the road, “take it.”

I have done just that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_McCall

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_and_Clark_Expedition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Que_Sera,_Sera_%28Whatever_Will_Be,_Will_Be%29

Sustainable Cliche’?

Why would someone taking and passing “Sustainable Business” class at the University of Oregon’s Lillis School of Business have the audacity to question the use of the sacred word, “sustainable?”

Didn’t the students of this MBA class undertake a sustained effort for 10 weeks, producing capstone projects for sustainable businesses and non-profits, in order to secure a sustainable grade leading to a sustainable graduation and a sustainable career?

We did that and more. And yet it dawned on me that the words “sustainable” and “sustainability” are losing their identity and distinction. They are in danger of becoming cliché, if that has not already occurred.  If you don’t believe me just check out the 222 million Google results for these words.

fedex1

As Almost DailyBrett has commented these words have become virtually mandatory for marketers as evidenced by FedEx taking one overused buzzword, “sustainable” and combining it with another overused buzzword, “solutions” to produce (drum roll please): “Sustainable Solutions.” I am getting ill.

In an effort to discover new frontiers beyond “sustainability,” I drove my little green Miata through blowing snow last week to the 2012 Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism, sponsored by Travel Oregon, in Portland.

Did I hear the words, “sustainable” and “sustainability” dozens of time at the tourism conference? You bet ya…but I also heard innovative musings that point to a bright, new world beyond sustainability. Is that even possible and are these new thoughts, sustainable?

In particular, I heard the words of James Curleigh, president and chief executive officer of KEEN Footwear, based in the ultra cool Pearl District in the Northwest quadrant of Portland. His message was consistent with the notion of sustainability, but it goes much further…even as the privately held company reportedly brought in $240 million in revenues last year.

Curleigh secured the audience’s attention by singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” as he was being introduced. Curleigh last year led a clapping audience in Tokyo in the Beatles’ “Revolution” as a way of gaining attention. Soloing at the beginning of a presentation takes major cojones and at least a half-way decent singing voice.

curleigh

Curleigh is much more than a dynamic, passionate extemporaneous speaker with a natural gift for communicating and literally spellbinding an audience. He is a believer. He embraces the “hybrid life” concept of KEEN Footwear, sandals with roots in ancient times with modern big-toe bumper plates. He is a child of the 60s with a business plan for the 21st Century.

He invokes the “positive collision” as he calls it of “create, play, care” to introduce “hybrid life.” Curleigh, who is also KEEN’s “chief product tester” and “chief recess officer,” follows the mantra of “Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take what you do real seriously.” As evidence of this motto, the light-hearted KEEN donated its 2004 marketing budget to the victims of that year’s Asian tsunami.

Speaking before several hundred Oregon tourism and hospitality business owners, he asked whether Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would be proud of the state that was the destination of their infamous 1804-1806 trek across America’s fruited plain. The consensus was the two explorers would be pleased with the place bordering the Pacific Ocean, located south of the Columbia River and north of the California line that conjures up images of trees, windswept beaches, majestic peaks and high deserts.

Curleigh saluted Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood as an example of “collaborative stewardship.” Is that another way of saying “sustainable” or “sustainability?”

General George S. Patton is famous for his quote, “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone is not thinking.” Curleigh offers a glimmer and maybe more of at least one person thinking outside of the “sustainable” and “sustainability” box.

Not sure the general would have condoned Curleigh’s beard, t-shirt and casual pants, but his way of looking at the world and seeing new ways to market corporate social responsibility would have found favor with the general looking for those with new ways of thinking.

Editor’s Note: I have no engagement with KEEN. I have never met James Curleigh (even though I would like to have that opportunity). And I wear Sketchers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KEEN,_Inc.

http://www.keenfootwear.com/us/en/explorekeen.aspx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1pPMqG2NWo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTNuwPplaxI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WqGXO5yzXM&feature=related

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/thirty-four-miles-from-point-a-to-point-b-and-memphis-tennessee-in-between/

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