Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Empassioned Plea for Yes on 26-118

I'm not a native Oregonian; I moved to Portland in March of 2000. I didn't know the city very well back then - I only moved here because there were a lot of comics artists that I liked that lived here - but from the moment that this became my hometown, I wanted to learn about the city. I've always believed that knowing a city is like knowing a person: you need to know something about their history to really know them at all. Bearing that in mind, I set out to learning about Oregon and Portland. I consumed texts by O'Donnell and Thomas, Eugene Snyder, Karl Klooster, and Kimbark McColl. Eventually, I started making my own historic works about Portland: "City of Roses". I couldn't have produced my pieces without the work of those historians before me, but none of us could have done it without the Oregon Historical Society.

I don't know if you've been to the Oregon Historical Society in recent years. They have a showcase exhibit called "Oregon, My Oregon". Every time I visit it, it brings tears to my eyes. Real, honest tears (my wife can attest to this). It starts with the entry to the exhibit, where at face, you are confronted with the state seal as a four foot tall woodcut. The banner at the bottom of our seal reads "The Union". It is a stark reminder that our state's existence was one of the last gambles before the Civil War - we began as a compromise: if we were a whites only state (as we began; a shameful idea now), then maybe we could preserve the union of the North and the South. It was tried, it didn't work out well. I guess I'm a softy, because I always weep at those ideals. My emotions aren't helped by immediate proximity to Julius Meier's (of Meier & Frank) top hat, or Governor Tom McCall's (the state's last, great Republican - yes, they existed) cowboy boots.

If 26-118 fails, all of this is moth-balled, or worse yet, liquidated. Disposed of.

"My Oregon, Oregon" has more artifacts than what I've described. They have a model of the Columbia Rediviva, the ship that is the namesake of the Columbia River. Fair enough. But they also have actual artifacts from the Columbia Rediviva. A trunk that was on the ship that gave birth to our area. The same exhibit displays a bootie that was worn by John McLoughlin, "the father of Oregon", as a baby. Can you imagine that? You can see it. At least for now.

If this measure fails, we're going to lose all of that. The state's finances are busted. They took funding away from our history before we dived into our recession. It makes sense; how can you fund a historical society when you can't fund an educational system? So it falls to us in Multnomah county to be the stewards of our state's great and amazing history.

Will it cost us? Yes, it will. The burden in this measure is placed upon homeowners, which I will freely admit, I am not one. The price? The cost if you own a house valued at 240,000 dollars, will be one dollar a month. Can you afford that? I bet you can. One dollar a month. If the measure goes through, they are promising you free admission to the museum as a trade. Can you afford that extra one dollar a month on your taxes? I bet you can.

Vote for this measure. Make it happen. If you pass it, I'll make it worth your while. You own a house and you tell me that you voted for this? I'll research your house. If you own a house valued over 500 thousand and you promote this? I'll give you an illustration of your house. Please vote Yes on 26-118. Your neighbors are doing it.