“Let’s give Oregonians a chance to shape the future of the state” – Oregon Humanities


To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Oregon Humanities, each month in 2021 we will be publishing an interview with a forward-thinking Oregonian about what the future holds for our region. Read more of these stories here.

Kevin Frazier founded the blog The Oregon Way in August 2020 out of frustration with partisan politics. A Beaverton native and political junkie, Frazier sought to create a non-partisan place for Oregonians across the state to unite around ideas rather than ideologies and put the focus back on people instead. than on politics.

“For me, it starts with asking big questions and creating a big table,” said Frazier, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and a law degree at the University of California at Berkeley. Oregon will always be home to Frazier, who started the blog to “relentlessly pursue a better future in an inclusive manner.”

But what started out as a blog for editorials from thought leaders from across the state has quickly grown into a larger media group: in recent months, The Oregon Way joined with Take off, a newsletter on Oregon politics, and The bridge, a series of podcasts, to form OR360 Media. Frazier said that together, these efforts are a one-stop shop for Oregon residents to find out what’s going on in Oregon politics and feel equipped to make a difference in their communities.

“The cumulative focus of all of these projects is really to think about restoring Oregon’s civic culture and improving its information ecosystem,” Frazier said.

“How can we help?”

According to Frazier, it’s not enough to know the facts about what’s going on, that’s where The Oregon Way The blog shows readers the many ways community leaders and elected officials view Oregon’s most pressing issues, from climate change and land use issues to political representation and homelessness. (Editor’s Note: Adam Davis, Executive Director of Oregon Humanities, is a regular contributor.)

“The more we can make people aware that there are efforts going on to bring people together from different parts of industry and different parts of the state, the more we can start to shatter this idea that all politics is. a battle for political points, ”explained Frazier.

Numerous blog posts detail the proactive and pragmatic efforts across the state, Frazier said. For example, Kelley Minty Morris, a Klamath County Commissioner, recently wrote about how groups from all sectors are coming together to address water issues in the Klamath Basin by providing water filling stations. water and 500 gallon water tanks to residents.

“The state, county, city, and citizens have come together to ask, ‘How can we help? »», Wrote the commissioner.

Another elected leader, Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene), also recently called to unite the Oregonians in a Oregon Trail post, proposing the creation of a public service program for young people. Such a program could bring together Oregon’s youth to fight climate change through carbon sequestration or train as licensed practical nurses or wildland firefighters.

“Public service can restore a sense of community by showing the value of working collectively across social boundaries towards a common goal,” Wilde wrote.

And while elected leaders often contribute to the blog, community leaders also fill its pages. Taylor Stewart, founder of the Oregon Remembrance Project, recently detailed the organization’s efforts to confront Grants Pass’s racist past and plan for a more inclusive future.

According to Frazier, this is a robust way to see the “Oregon Way” in action.

“(Stewart) is not doing this for partisan purposes,” he said. “It’s not meant to punish anyone, but really just to build a stronger community.”

Is there an “Oregon Way”?

Since its launch in the summer of 2020, the blog has racked up over 1,300 subscribers, and each post can have up to 5,000 views of Oregonians from both sides of the Cascades and from all walks of life.

Frazier said the blog has been relatively well received, but some people reject the general principle that there is an “Oregon Way” first. According to Frazier, Oregonians are united by a shared love for the state. But some people believe that this shared Oregon identity is now only used for partisan purposes.

Umatilla County Commissioner George Murdock, for example, wrote that it’s hard to imagine a return to an “Oregon Way” given the current political climate.

Frazier, in part, agrees that opportunities for citizen engagement have diminished.

“We turned the idea of ​​collaboration and engagement into a box-checking exercise,” he said. “We need a new iteration and a new step forward on what we mean by the ‘Oregon Way’ and what it means to participate in our democracy.”

This means opportunities that go beyond town halls and public webinars. Frazier believes that in order to strengthen civic engagement, the state must create citizen assemblies or service programs as Wilde proposed.

Frazier said he overheard many people questioning whether Oregonians would really show up if given the chance. But it is a bet that he is ready to take.

“Let’s give Oregonians a chance to shape the future of the state, and I’m willing to bet they’re going to come forward and take this opportunity for us,” he said.

And after?

The Oregon Way– and the larger OR360 Media – has already started triggering actions, Frazier said. The blog spawned a contributor-led group focused on climate change and made up of Oregonians from across the state, from different industries and political parties.

“I think that The Oregon Way definitely encourages contributors to think more about how they can take their posts off the page and integrate them into the community, ”said Frazier.

And OR360 Media has big plans for 2022. Ahead of the November gubernatorial race, the group is teaming up with Portland-based news channel KATU on a #GovernorGoals series. Each month, they will focus on a different issue the governor will face, from homelessness and housing to climate change and wildfires. In November, Frazier will visit colleges and high schools across the state to brief students on the campaign and ask them what they think the governor should be addressing.

Frazier said the challenge for the next governor is to truly represent all of Oregon and not just focus on what the residents of Portlanders and Willamette Valley want. But, so far, Frazier is encouraged by the tenor of the gubernatorial race, explaining that the candidates are doing a good job discussing the need for essential building blocks such as job training, child care and improving schools. This is important as the state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and enters a new era, Frazier said.

“There’s a big conversation going on that this is kind of a settlement moment for the state,” he said. “People are really asking big questions about what do we want the state to look like, not just four years from now, but decades as well.”

Frazier added: “These kinds of big questions are exactly the kind of questions that I think are at the heart of The Oregon Way in terms of inspiring the people of Oregon to look more into collective action efforts to have a long-term impact on this state we are so happy to call home.

In addition to running The Oregon Way, Frazier has yet to complete his double degree and law program. After graduating next summer, Frazier plans to become a clerk for the chief justice of the Montana Supreme Court. He hopes to learn about the state’s constitutional law and eventually bring those skills back to Oregon.

As he says, “I’m putting together as many tools and knowledge as I can so that when I get home I can help make as big a difference as possible.

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