Oregon Or Bust

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September 2, 2010 by David Gillaspie

(inspired by http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2010/09/history_argues_for_one_multnom.html)

Thank Steve Duin for putting the Oregon Historical Society on the Metro front page.  How often does that happen?  Front page Oregonian above the fold would be better, but that takes more of a story.

Thank you Steve Duin.

OHS needs money?  We get that.  OHS can’t get the money they need through regular channels?  Okay.  A new tax will bring some funding, but at what cost?

Can you agree that a museum is built on trust?  If you donate an artifact, a sack of money, or both, you trust the museum to do the right thing.

From the Steve Duin column it seems OHS is not run by money managers.  Who is running OHS?  The staff?  The board of directors?  These are all smart people, but are they money people? 

Apparently not.

Are they Oregon history people?  Or are they Museum People?

The few comments following Steve Duin’s column show the level of interest in OHS.  Three people.  Are they OHS members?  Former members?  Contributors?  Or bitter people with an ax to grind?

Samoht1 wants to open up storage to the public?  Why, so the three posters here can visit?  Sam says get an ebay account.  Sam asks if there are Native American remains in the collection.  All good questions, but it’s a money problem we’re reading about, Sam.

Lentball asks for a statewide tax instead of Multnomah County.  It would mean more money, but would the state jump on board?  Lent goes off track with their snide comment on the facility director, calling him a “macho-military man.”  Listen lentball, if you served your country with honor then you can be a macho-military man.  If you are a draft dodger in time of war and come back from Canada with a collection of tunics and great coats from other countries’ military, it’s okay. 

Water under the bridge, lentball.  Let it go.  This is a money issue, not a personality issue.

Ednumrich goes further out on the personality limb by recalling Thomas Vaughan.  Ed, is the peeled grape crowd different than the wine and cheese crowd?  Different than the trimmed crust cucumber sandwich crowd?  OHS is in need, as Steve Duin points out.  It’s in trouble with the risk of shutting down and you break out ‘peeled grape’?

If OHS was a pet project of Mr. Vaughan, then the pet was a tiger.  During his time OHS was one of the leading regional history museums in the country.  You don’t get the Magna Carta in the house with a backwater operation.  Mr. Vaughan ran his show with the help of the staff he interviewed and hired.  If you made the cut, you were in.  He wanted his people for his show.  His museum had wings to fly.  Did it make everyone happy?  No, but he didn’t have to pass the hat either.

Ed understands the importance of OHS, that it’s success is needed to preserve posters of Tempest Storm.

OHS needs short money to stay open and long money to thrive.  Here’s the plan:  Hire a person with roots in Oregon to speak at every school function, every civic gathering, at every club and association and group that will make room for a five-minute pitch. 

Give the new hire a script to read:

“Hello, my name is Lewis and Clark, Joe Meek, Chief Joseph.  My name is Abigail Scott Duniway, Sacagawea, Jesse Applegate.  I am Ken Kesey, Raymond Carver, and H.L.Davis.  I am from the Oregon Historical Society and so is everyone I mentioned.  And so are you. 

“Whether you know it or not, there is a direct connection between you and those who came before you.  That connection is Oregon.  We’ve all got pictures of parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles.  We look at them and see ourselves and know we are connected to the family. 

“Oregon is the same thing. 

“The mountains and rivers and valleys you see now are the same ones that amazed everyone else seeing them for the first time.  The buildings and roads and cities throughout the state began with the idea of a better Oregon.  The state you leave behind will be better from the time you lived here, but there’s work to do. 

“The Oregon Historical Society is a celebration of Oregon; it’s where you can always go to find something to cheer about.  Having a bad day?  Not as bad as a good day on the Oregon Trail.  Feeling left out?  Not as much as those Abigail Scott Duniway fought for.  You share a part in the names I used to introduce myself. 

“Oregon runs through them as much as it runs through you, but the connection needs strengthening.  Talk about Oregon history and OHS to friends and family.  Make a point of visiting the museum with out-of-town visitors.  Ask what you can do for Oregon history, because it’s working for you every day. 

“You may not know it, but decision makers today leave a legacy with every act and word.  If they are important enough acts and words, they will find their way to OHS and be scrutinized by future visitors.  Pick a name from the list I started with and take it to OHS and find why they were important.  Better yet, start a project to help Oregon today and see if you can weave yourself into the fabric of Oregon history. 

“Any questions?”


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