WRITING OUT LOUD: From here


I’m from here, from the Oregon coast. I haven’t always been, but I live here now. My Oregon roots go way back, arriving here in an airplane on my mom’s lap before I could walk. She and my dad were graduate students from Indiana attending the University of Oregon.

I learned to ski on Mount Bachelor, rode my horse in the Applegate Trail Days parade and caught my first fish in the Willamette River. My favorite place in the world is the deep woods near a creek. I never litter and always recycle. The rain doesn’t stop me from doing anything. I’m from Oregon. It shaped who I am.

You don’t have to have Oregon roots to identify, to be from here. We’re all different, but there are common themes. Generally, Oregonians don’t like it when people come here and want it to be like where they came from. We’re OK with tourists, we just want them to drive carefully, manage their dogs and pick up their trash.

I love the beaches on the Oregon coast, how they’re all public lands. Rich people can’t buy it up and block it off. I appreciate the vast public forest lands, too, where we struggle to find compromise between industry and conservation. 

We’re pretty unassuming in general, Oregonians, and we aren’t much for pretense. People don’t often ask others what they do or where they’re from, figuring, probably, it will come up if it’s relevant. When our neighbor needs help, we respond. We respect the privacy and property of others and demand it of ours. We value our freedom. We really don’t like people to tell us what to do.

No one wants to wear a mask, but they do. Surgeons and many other health care providers wear them regularly, some always in the course of demanding work. Most manufacturing is necessarily done by those wearing masks. First responders wear them.

Many of us have been wearing face coverings here for a while. I don’t like it. My teenager hates it. We do it to protect others — a sign of kindness, of compassion, of responsibility. 

Now it’s mandated. Local businesses open to the public are directed to have employees wear face coverings and require it of their patrons. To be clear, this isn’t an authoritarian regime asking something unreasonable. Note that the store employees who must ask those not wearing a face covering to do so did not direct the mandate. They are simply doing their job.

Our elected officials, based on recommendations of those responsible for public health and in light of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, are taking action to support the science — the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between people wearing face coverings is low. Without face coverings, it is much higher. The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for the most current medical recommendations and information. 

Please, cover your face in public places, especially when specifically asked to. Let’s err on the side of caution and roll with it. We’re experiencing a worldwide health crisis. Let’s protect each other. Use a simple cloth bandana, one of the free masks distributed countywide or find one at many local businesses, offered for free or at low cost. It’s really a small thing to ask.

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