Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundary and Washington’s Summer Life

As June has turned into July, I’ve realized that summer is almost halfway over. I suppose I could look at this more positively and say that I still have more than half the summer to enjoy, and work on research, but I am really more a glass is half empty type of person. For this reason, I am now beginning to feel somewhat stressed out about finishing my research project, as there is so much more I need to do.

I don’t think I fully explained what I am researching in my previous post, so here it goes: I am looking at the Oregon Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and shifting public opinion surrounding it.  Oregon’s UGB is a model for land management plans in the nation for containing urban sprawl… well, up until the past 10 years. In 2000, an initiative was put on the Oregon ballot which completely changed the way Oregon’s land was managed, which is odd in a state which is so concerned about the environment. Oregon appeared to have shifted its stance on containing development by allowing landowners to build houses on their rural property. However, this deviation from Oregon’s land management stance did not last long as another ballot measure was passed in 2007 which reversed the landowner’s rights that were given to them in the previous measure. I could jabber on about this, but in short, my research is looking at why public opinion changed in the period of a few years about the UGB, when historically, public opinion is never that volatile.

So I have been surfing the internet: reading archived newspaper articles to try to get a sense of the political climate during this period. I am particularly interested in the framing (what words, images, messages etc.) were used in the campaigns that pushed the two ballot measures. The concept of framing is actually what spurred this research project initially. I became fascinated by these so called “frames” in my Environmental Politics and Agenda Setting class last fall semester… and if you’ve ever heard of Frank Luntz, you know what I’m talking about (google him– you’ll be shocked). I am also interviewing people involved in the opposing campaigns as well as journalists who covered the events. The interviews have actually been the best part so far. Not to say that I don’t love sitting in front of a computer and reading until my eyes go cross, but I feel like I’m learning some good skills by interviewing people. I have realized that you get a lot more out of the interview, if you know what you are talking about. This may seem obvious, but the more research you’ve done and articles you’ve read really help make you sound intelligent and knowledgeable about the issue. I think the interviewee feels like they aren’t wasting their time and are more likely to give you valuable information. So the strain on my eyes is well worth the plethora of information being stored up in my brain. I have many more interviews to conduct, so hopefully by the end of the summer, I will feel extremely confident interviewing people. This is certainly a skill that can help me later on in life and I intend to use in a future career.

What else? Well, Tacoma is finally SUNNY! But of course, as I write this, I sit in the air conditioned Collins Library which is a wonderful break from the scorching 95 degree heat outside. I actually contemplated sleeping outside last night because my house was so warm. That would have been very UPS of me, dontcha think? Oh and by UPS, I of course mean, so very Puget Sound of me (UPS still sounds better to me). Besides the heat, Tacoma is still offering many new and exciting summer activities. I went to the Taste of Tacoma, the 4th of July Freedom Fair, explored the 6th Avenue Farmer’s market on multiple occasions, ran “4 miles on the 4th” at Steilacoom, and biked to Anderson Island, since my last posting, among other activities. Tacoma always amazes me at all it has to offer. I thought I had explored all the good biking destinations as of a few weeks ago: I mean I had done the Vashon and Gig Harbor routes but I never thought to bike to Steilacoom, which is actually a great little town near the McChord Airbase. I would go check it out, if you haven’t already. You can go to their farmer’s market or take the Anderson Island Ferry at the end of town, which is a great island with a swimming lake which the locals refer to as the ‘Ol Swimming Hole. And did I mention the breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics? Go check it out. Bike. Drive. Swim? Seriously, it is worth the trip.

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