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Rural - Urban Interdependence

Rural Studies Faculty, while primarily focused on studying rural places, recognize that rural places are part of a larger economic, social, and cultural sphere that includes suburban and urban places too. Rural and urban places rely on one another for many things including: labor, access to amenities (from increased shopping options to outdoor recreation), raw materials, and more.  Studying the linkages between rural and urban areas can reveal opportunities for stronger partnerships and stronger economies and socities in both places.

Rural Studies Faculty member Bruce Weber worked with Mike Hibbard a rural planning professor from the University of Oregon, Beth Emschoff in the Portland OSU Extension Office, and Ethan Seltzer from Portland State University to edit a book examining rural-urban interdependence in Oregon titled: Towards One Oregon. Find more details on the book here.

Currently this group of rural and urban scholars is facilitating conversations about rural-urban interdependence across the state. This effort to facilitate more thinking about opportunities to work together is sponsored by Oregon Humanities. 

A brief summary of the Toward One Oregon: The Conversations Project

Oregon struggles with many difficult public issues around which there are seemingly different rural and urban stories. Two longstanding examples are the challenge of modernizing our system of public finance and the ongoing controbersies over natural resource management. Nevertheless, Oregonians are bound together by shared state borders and public problem solving institutions and processes (governance structures). In that environment, all citizens have a stake in trying to understand one another (not necessarily agreeing, but understanding).

Every state has a legacy of "truths" - stories people tell to explain why things are how they are. When those truths conflict, as they invariably do, the result is political, social, and cultural tension. Differences in such things as economic base, geography, and population density exert a profound effect on our ability to meet the challenges we face as a state. In Oregon they manifest themselves as wet vs. dry, the valley vs. the east side, and most fundamentally, urban vs. rural.

Oregon's conflicting truths bedevil and sometimes paralyze the state. Our aim is an exploration of what makes Oregon one: What are the ties that bind (or could bind) urban and rural for a common future?