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Old 03-10-2017, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 14,709,726 times
Reputation: 25017

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That's an excellent summary. Only about 9% of Douglas County residents have a baccalaureate degree, 1/3 of the state average. There are advantages to living in Douglas County if you have a decent income. Real estate prices are cheaper and traffic congestion is practically nonexistent. Living here is like moving back in time 30 years. Families who were here 50 years ago are often very wealthy. It's not uncommon for established families to own hundreds or even thousands of acres of timber. They bought a 640 acre section of cut-over timber land when Reagan came along and started offering free federal timber. Growing trees didn't pencil out for the big companies when they could get logs from the feds for the cost of cutting them, so loggers bought their own deer hunting land and planted a few trees to get the timber deferral on the property taxes. Forty-five years later that stump farm is worth $12 million. Thank you, Grandpa.

There are still well paying jobs, just not as many as there used to be. A mill worker with a high school education making $30/hr. can live very well indeed, but mills that used to hire 600 workers have automated and now only need 60. The economy has shifted to a retirement base. One person in five in the county is a senior citizen in assisted living or nursing care.

As you point out, kids with anything on the ball go off to college and don't come back. There are jobs in government, health care and education that require a degree, which is where the 9% work.
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:46 PM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 14,709,726 times
Reputation: 25017
I was just reminiscing. The early '80s were a very hard time in my life. The Reagan recession hit me hard. My total entertainment budget for two years was a library card and one light bulb to read by. The library was the difference between my survival and maybe not. It breaks my heart that the local voters wouldn't support a library.
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Old 03-11-2017, 12:30 PM
 
Location: WA
4,081 posts, read 5,176,916 times
Reputation: 5411
This isn't a rural Oregon problem, it's a rural America problem. My wife and I recently moved back to the Northwest after a decade in Texas and exactly the same patterns are playing out there and have been for decades (Last Picture Show anyone?).

It really comes down to productivity more than anything else. 50-100 years ago agriculture and timber industries were labor intensive. A big family farm was maybe 200 acres. And a large timber acreage employed a lot of people from the logging to the labor intensive local mill. Today with advances in mechanization family farms are thousands of acres and increasingly becoming corporate farms with immigrant labor rather than family farms. Rural America requires 1/10th or less the labor it used to. The pattern in the timber industry has been similar. All those little mills cutting 2x4s that used to be scattered all over rural western Oregon have consolidated down to a few large high-tech mills producing all kinds of new higher tech laminated and composite wood products.

So both timber towns and farm towns all across the US are getting hollowed out as the jobs and productive people drift away leaving only retirees and the alternative lifestyle folks (both conservative and liberal) who are trying to make a go with life on the fringes. Roseburg is no different from any of a thousand small towns in Texas or anywhere else across the US where rural towns find themselves too isolated and far from urban areas to be economically viable.

It's all about geography. Similar towns on the edges of larger metro areas experience the opposite fate. We live near Camas WA which was once a mill town similar to Roseberg. Downtown Camas is dominated by a massive Georgia Pacific paper plant and nearby Washougal is full of sawmills. But Camas is awash in gentrification and high tech industries are moving in right and left because it is within the sphere of the Portland metro area. Employment at the paper plant has fallen by about 75% in the past decade or and no one notices or much cares. In fact the majority of people working at the plant probably don't live in Camas and most Camas residents would probably vote to close the mill in a heartbeat. And Camas has one of the most gorgeous small town libraries I have ever seen.
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Fresno, CA
1,071 posts, read 1,144,007 times
Reputation: 1982
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Caldwell View Post
I was just reminiscing. The early '80s were a very hard time in my life. The Reagan recession hit me hard. My total entertainment budget for two years was a library card and one light bulb to read by. The library was the difference between my survival and maybe not. It breaks my heart that the local voters wouldn't support a library.
Sometimes a book isn't just a book and a library isn't just a library. They can be lifelines-- as your touching and relatable experience indicates.

Think of how many people wouldn't be in the improved and successful places they're in today if THEIR libraries had closed. There are Larrys of different ages, genders, ethnicities and, often, reduced circumstances that lose big time when a library closes.

Quality of life dominoes fall in a community in negative ways people don't anticipate or realize with such a closure. Usually, those who vote not to support their library don't know what they don't know. They need to read a book---or two.
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Old 03-12-2017, 03:37 PM
 
958 posts, read 914,148 times
Reputation: 1795
Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
This isn't a rural Oregon problem, it's a rural America problem. My wife and I recently moved back to the Northwest after a decade in Texas and exactly the same patterns are playing out there and have been for decades (Last Picture Show anyone?).

It really comes down to productivity more than anything else. 50-100 years ago agriculture and timber industries were labor intensive. A big family farm was maybe 200 acres. And a large timber acreage employed a lot of people from the logging to the labor intensive local mill. Today with advances in mechanization family farms are thousands of acres and increasingly becoming corporate farms with immigrant labor rather than family farms. Rural America requires 1/10th or less the labor it used to. The pattern in the timber industry has been similar. All those little mills cutting 2x4s that used to be scattered all over rural western Oregon have consolidated down to a few large high-tech mills producing all kinds of new higher tech laminated and composite wood products.

So both timber towns and farm towns all across the US are getting hollowed out as the jobs and productive people drift away leaving only retirees and the alternative lifestyle folks (both conservative and liberal) who are trying to make a go with life on the fringes. Roseburg is no different from any of a thousand small towns in Texas or anywhere else across the US where rural towns find themselves too isolated and far from urban areas to be economically viable.

It's all about geography. Similar towns on the edges of larger metro areas experience the opposite fate. We live near Camas WA which was once a mill town similar to Roseberg. Downtown Camas is dominated by a massive Georgia Pacific paper plant and nearby Washougal is full of sawmills. But Camas is awash in gentrification and high tech industries are moving in right and left because it is within the sphere of the Portland metro area. Employment at the paper plant has fallen by about 75% in the past decade or and no one notices or much cares. In fact the majority of people working at the plant probably don't live in Camas and most Camas residents would probably vote to close the mill in a heartbeat. And Camas has one of the most gorgeous small town libraries I have ever seen.
Well said. It cracks me up to hear conservatives complain about "liberal social engineering" when they want the "gubmint" to subsidize and artificially maintain their rural lifestyles through giving the peoples land away (often to corporations who would limit their access to hunting, offroading, etc), building roads to places with no jobs, etc. The future will be more urban due to the efficiencies in resource extraction done by automation and robot workers. Dont like it? Pull your self up by your bootstraps, snowflakes, and find a job that will survive this shift: forest ranger, rafting guide, and other tourist related industries. Or move closer to a city and adapt.
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:16 AM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 14,709,726 times
Reputation: 25017
Quote:
Originally Posted by boulder2015 View Post
Well said. It cracks me up to hear conservatives complain about "liberal social engineering" when they want the "gubmint" to subsidize and artificially maintain their rural lifestyles through giving the peoples land away (often to corporations who would limit their access to hunting, offroading, etc), building roads to places with no jobs, etc. The future will be more urban due to the efficiencies in resource extraction done by automation and robot workers. Dont like it? Pull your self up by your bootstraps, snowflakes, and find a job that will survive this shift: forest ranger, rafting guide, and other tourist related industries. Or move closer to a city and adapt.
You may be right. Taxing people to provide access to information may be a relic of the 19th and 20th centuries. It's certainly elitist, since only the more intelligent part of the population makes use of libraries, though they are most heavily used by those who can't afford to buy the books they want to read. Still, to many rural people a county seat looks pretty urban, even if it is scorned by big city residents.
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:53 PM
 
23 posts, read 21,195 times
Reputation: 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
This isn't a rural Oregon problem, it's a rural America problem. My wife and I recently moved back to the Northwest after a decade in Texas and exactly the same patterns are playing out there and have been for decades (Last Picture Show anyone?).
I agree with pretty much everything you said. The way I see it is that we're in the middle of what is another Industrial Revolution. This one is being done through technology instead of steam engines, but it's still the same concept. One of the big things that happened during the Industrial Revolution is that people flocked from rural communities to the cities in droves so they could go to where the work was. Countless rural communities were completely and utterly obliterated. We're starting to see something similar to that. Ever since the 2008 crash there has been a huge migration from the exurbs/small rural towns to the cities because that's where the job growth and economic recovery has been.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boulder2015 View Post
Well said. It cracks me up to hear conservatives complain about "liberal social engineering" when they want the "gubmint" to subsidize and artificially maintain their rural lifestyles through giving the peoples land away (often to corporations who would limit their access to hunting, offroading, etc), building roads to places with no jobs, etc. The future will be more urban due to the efficiencies in resource extraction done by automation and robot workers. Dont like it? Pull your self up by your bootstraps, snowflakes, and find a job that will survive this shift: forest ranger, rafting guide, and other tourist related industries. Or move closer to a city and adapt.
Ok... here's the thing. Ever since timber started declining in the 90s, there have been various retraining programs and other resources designed to get people into other industries. But you can only do so much when your previous economy was entirely dominated by a single resource. Tourism and the wine industry can only do so much. Wine has really taken off in southern Oregon but it has come nowhere near close to filling the void left behind by timber.

People HAVE been making an effort to "pull up their bootstraps", but they're now realizing that today's economy is dictated largely by needing intellectual capital that their communities can't (or won't) support. This is why the younger generations have left. They aren't bound to living where they grew up and they know the writing is on the wall.
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Old 03-23-2017, 01:18 PM
 
195 posts, read 152,077 times
Reputation: 348
Driving around rural Oregon can get extremely depressing but it's hard to tell whether this is caused by how these towns look or the almost-constant gloomy weather we are having. We surely have a lot of small towns that look like they just went through a zombie attack with buildings falling apart and things looking very rusty. This is probably caused by many factors including but not limited to economy. Since I work from home most of the time, I wanted to move to a rural town and get some acreage as a hobby (and also to get away from the crowded and busy big city life) but after seeing a few rural towns, changed my mind.
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Old 03-23-2017, 05:48 PM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
15,296 posts, read 14,709,726 times
Reputation: 25017
Yeah, it's too bad rural internet is so dismal. If I had to video conference I just couldn't do it. I tried once to download a movie from Amazon and they gave my money back without even being asked. I eventually got to watch it, but it took 6 hours to buffer the whole thing.
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Old 03-23-2017, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Left coast
2,320 posts, read 1,440,482 times
Reputation: 3236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Caldwell View Post
Yeah, it's too bad rural internet is so dismal. If I had to video conference I just couldn't do it. I tried once to download a movie from Amazon and they gave my money back without even being asked. I eventually got to watch it, but it took 6 hours to buffer the whole thing.
totally agree-
tried to take an online CPR course and couldn't do any of the modules, the internet just wasn't a steady enough connection...
(over the last summer, when I was rural)...
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