Oregon and the Happy Hippies

I am just about ending an interesting long weekend here in Oregon – I have a long overnight trek home to Moncton.

We finished up last night with a Bruce Cockburn concert in a small hall with folding chairs in Eugene, Oregon.  The place was supposed to hold a maximum of 400 people but there must have been 600 or more there – 200 standing the whole concert.  Bruce was outstanding – a good mix of old and new and his own kind of disarming humour.  

The interesting thing was the demographic of the group.  The average age was easily late 50s – many of the men had pony tails and the women were dressed in hippy garb.  It was very interesting – this group looked happy and well contented.  It was fun to be plunked down in this group of folks that came of age in the late 1960s/1970s.

Oregon looks a lot like New Brunswick – with mountains.  The wood products industry is a major player, agriculture and fishing to a lesser extent.  More blue collar than I expected but quite a few multinationals.  Intel has 15,000 employees in the state and Boeing looks to be a huge employer here as well.

Over 10% unemployment and some pretty tough economic times here.

For me its a bit of intellectual oxygen.  To see another environment, to talk with folks, to observe, to emmerse for a few days. 

All in all a great trip despite the wind burn and altitude sickness from trying to climb the most deadly mountain in North America (more people have died on Mount Hood, I am told, than any other mountain in North America).

6 thoughts on “Oregon and the Happy Hippies

  1. The Gorge has some pretty rad wind & wave action. Great for windsurfers. Never got a chance to ride the conditions but did visit on my way down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA.

  2. Northern Alberta is like that too (except for Intel and Boeing). A lot of hippies from all over. You should try to get to the North Country Fair. http://lslncca.ca/current/

    Interesting thing about Boeing and Intel. One of the things the U.S. does to stimulate regional development is to spread military spending around. That’s the only reason there’s any of that sort of industry in the Pacific Northwest.

    You haven’t really talked about it, but what’s your take on the spreading of regional development through, say, CFB Gagetown. There was some, it heated up, but it’s slowed a bit in the last year.

  3. I like the concept of the federal government spreading aground military spending. Government is about 1/4 of the total economy in Canada and understanding the direct economic impact of that – and looking at ways to be strategic in terms of regional development – makes sense to me.

  4. “You haven’t really talked about it, but what’s your take on the spreading of regional development through, say, CFB Gagetown. ”

    CFB Gagetown creates local employment, but the type of military spending that generates high-wage jobs in the private sector in the US is most likely thru funding of new military equipment R&D. That is where Boeing and Intel have made a large amount of money (and jobs) in the past. There is very little of that in Canada and I don’t think that would get a lot of political support given other spending priorities.

    One area where you could perhaps get some more federal R&D is in development of ‘local’ food production (via genetic improvements etc). This will be an expanding sector in the next few decades. A regional pitch to Ottawa for some federal dollars for that sector might be successful. That would take some regional cooperation, however, which is in short supply.

  5. CFB Gagetown is a combat training centre and now uses a substantial amount of simulation in its training. A number of NB firms pitched their e-learning expertise to develop various animation projects including helicopter and tank combat simulation programs. DND was interested but ultimately there were no takers. There were a number of reasons for this failure but it represents a high water mark in ambition and is emblematic of the opportunities that exist.

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