October 9, 2013
“We are a people capable of self-government,
and worthy of it.”
– Thomas Jefferson
So here we are: Day 9 of a partial federal government shutdown. 5 days from a possible default on the national debt. No solution in sight. Plenty of finger-pointing and blame-slinging. But no clear path forward.
It would be easy to think that the grand experiment of democracy has failed—that we are too divided as a people to govern ourselves, to guard the public good, to create a space where real problems are solved.
But despite all the handwringing and despair, around Oregon’s Kitchen Table we’ve had quite a different week. We’ve had a week of tremendous hope and possibility. Yesterday marked the end of the Build Gateway Green campaign, and it’s been quite a trip. Just to remind you—Gateway Green is an unused parcel of land between two freeways in East Portland. Two incredibly visionary Portlanders imagined it could be repurposed—recycled (excuse the pun)—into a world-class bike park with amenities for everyone, cyclist or not. Over the past eight years, those two people have gathered a group of supporters, partners, and volunteers.
And this summer, they brought it to Oregon Solutions and Oregon’s Kitchen Table. 529 Oregonians joined the movement and weighed in with their dreams and aspirations for this unused parcel of land through an Oregon’s Kitchen Table Consultation. Then, in Oregon’s first major civic crowdfunding effort, 756 people contributed to the project, raising nearly $124,000. Literally hundreds of people gave time, money, and good ideas to a project that benefits the whole community. The project isn’t over. Gateway Green still has a ways to go before there are shovels in the ground, but suddenly a huge team has emerged to work side by side with the founders and Friends of Gateway Green.
And throughout it all, no one was pointing fingers or slinging blame. Everybody just pitched in, worked together, and did what they could to make a difference. We’re proud of the Gateway Green team and our little corner of the Republic. And it sure gives us hope that we have a thing or two to teach those in our nation’s capitol about governing ourselves.
– Wendy Willis