That Oregon Inspiration

As we head into 2020, our Executive Director Russ Hoeflich reflects on all that we've accomplished together in 2019.

Dear Friends:

Thank you for making 2019 an exceptional year at 1000 Friends. Our proverbial cup is overflowing with good news. Go ahead and grab a mug of something wonderful, settle into your favorite cozy chair, and get ready to be inspired.

First and foremost, we’re bigger. This year, with your generous support, we have strategically grown our staff, board, and committees. You can see who’s who with our online staff pages, and you’ll likely have opportunities to meet people in person now that there are so many of us out and about in Oregon. More people-power means more capacity for everything else, and our new staff have hit the ground running. With such a talented team in place, we are well on our way to doing more than ever to represent and serve the full spectrum of Oregonians on all sides of our state’s 241 urban growth boundaries, and to maintain the boundaries themselves and all that they protect.

Together, we are amplifying our statewide presence, from expanding our Cooperating Attorneys Program with its dozens of volunteer professionals to buoying our relationships with our network of 11 regional affiliate organizations. Just last month in Corvallis, our Working Lands Engagement Coordinator, Jasmine, brought together over 60 representatives of our regional partners at what we hope will become a regular Affiliates and Allies Conference. Our legal team (yes, a whole team!) is on solid ground, busily receiving input from our network and managing a burgeoning caseload. You’ll hear lots more about their work in the coming year.

A few months ago at our McCall Gala, Heather Staten, my fellow Executive Director at affiliate group Thrive Hood River, referred to us as her “secret weapon,” but I think the secret may be out!

Online, we’re definitely getting the word out. We completely redesigned and relaunched our website in the spring, consolidated our social media pages, and upgraded our email and digital communications systems. Thanks to you, we are reaching over 100,000 people per year online, and increasing that at a rate of 15% per year. Our message is stronger and clearer than ever, and it’s being seen and heard by a demonstrably wider audience than we’ve had in a long time, including more and more young people.

Your support means we’ve also been training up the next generation in real life, through the seventh year of our Land Use Leadership Initiative (or LULI, which rhymes with “Julie”). Our winter session ran in Southern Oregon, and our summer session here in the Portland area. In all, we graduated 35 newly-minted land use leaders this year, for a total of nearly 120 since the program began. Our Gerhardt Internship celebrated its 34th year, and we celebrated by tripling it from 1 intern to 3 for the first time ever. Keep an eye out this winter as we begin to publish their work. 

Last year’s Gerhardt Intern Ashlee Fox was the author behind the “New Vision for Wildfire Planning” report we released earlier this year. Her work was used to help pass HB 2225 during the 2019 legislative session, and has been the foundation of the land use recommendations you’ll see in another newly-released report, this time from the Governor’s Wildfire Response Council. I’ve spent much of the year broadening our work on Oregon’s forest lands as chair of the council’s Land Use Subcommittee.  We are now working with the legislature on plans to modernize and fund Oregon’s wildfire strategy, helping us to meet Land Use Planning Goal 4 (here's a handy list of all 19 goals) and further protecting Oregon’s people and natural resources.

On the legislative front, Oregon’s forests weren’t the only thing that saw favorable outcomes in 2019. In all, 10 bills turned out the way we’d hoped. We and our affiliates were instrumental in passing HB 2790, the Outdoor Mass Gathering Bill, which protects rural resource lands from festival inundation. HB 2351 also passed; it furthers Goal 15 by deepening protections for the Willamette Greenway. And, together, we stopped a number of terrible bills that would have seen erosions of the land use system and irresponsible development of rural lands. I’m so grateful for the dozens upon dozens of our members who showed up in person in Salem to testify, and the hundreds more who responded to our email action alerts to contact their legislators with official comments.

Most importantly, though, Oregon once again raised the bar for the entire country.

The passage of HB 2001 is perhaps the most significant piece of land use legislation in Oregon after SB 100 itself. By restoring needed housing options for towns and cities across the state, HB 2001 takes us one giant step closer to fulfilling Goal 10. Our children and grandchildren will enjoy a more affordable, more resilient, more sustainable Oregon as a result. To help ensure it, we’re working to guide implementation; our esteemed Deputy Director Mary Kyle has been appointed to the LCDC Rules Advisory Committee to do just this. Meanwhile, we’re spreading the word and encouraging other states to follow suit, so that their own cities continue to be affordable and sustainable places to live. It can’t just be Oregon. In November alone, 1000 Friends spoke about housing solutions at a half-dozen conferences across America. 

Of course, by adding housing capacity inside our urban growth boundaries, we also protect Oregon’s beautiful rural lands from sprawl development. There are some other things we’re doing on that front, too. We’re providing comments on a number of rural land use legal cases. We’re giving farm tours to legislators. We’re working with our Farmer Advisory Committee to bring agricultural voices to the table for conversations about carbon and climate change. We went before the Land Use Board of Appeals with our affiliate group Friends of Douglas County, successfully challenging a proposal to develop nearly 25,000 acres of rural land. 

The victories don’t stop there.

Also this fall, voters overwhelmingly passed the Nature for All bond renewal for Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties. 1000 Friends built and led the coalition of support, and we were key advisors to Metro in drafting the language of the measure itself. In addition to bringing $475 million to projects that build, protect, and restore parks, trails, and natural areas in the region, this measure sets a national precedent by containing diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements for future projects, and emphasis on reducing the impacts of climate change. With 67% of voters in favor, our mandate now is for good implementation. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that we’re already working on that, and on next year’s regional transportation measure, too. In fact, as always, our task in the coming year is to keep all these successes moving forward, linking them together to maintain both a balance across all 19 of Oregon’s land use planning goals, and the enhanced quality of life for every Oregonian that is Senate Bill 100’s lasting legacy.

Speaking of which, here’s the best part. The 50th anniversary of SB 100 is only a few years away, and plans are already afoot. Before I sign off, I wanted to give you a preview of what we’ve got going on. First, save the date: Saturday, May 20th, 2023. That’s when we’ll be holding our anniversary gala at the Portland Art Museum, and you are most certainly invited. We’re working with the Oregon Historical Society to develop a special exhibit, too. We’ve begun convening groups of land use leaders past and present to help shape the celebrations as well as our future work, and will continue to do so over the next several years. And we’re hoping to begin working soon with a documentary filmmaker to capture the history of 1000 Friends and Oregon’s land use system. I would welcome your participation. Let me know if you’d like to be involved.

Well, friends, that’s certainly not everything, but I hope it’s enough to show what a difference you make, and to further inspire your love of land use. Oregon is an inspiration. It was true when Governor McCall said it in 1973, and it’s true today.

Your support is what makes it all possible. 

As a nonprofit organization, 1000 Friends depends on your donations to do the work we do. If you've given recently, thank you! And if it's been a little while, I hope you'll consider making a gift today.

Thank you for all you do to ensure that Oregon continues to be an inspiration.

Wishing you all the best in 2020 and always,

Russ Hoeflich
Executive Director

P.S. If you haven't seen it already, I encourage you to take a look at our latest annual report. Thank you again for your support!