When I moved to Eugene 25 years ago, my first impression was that I had found a special place to call home. Many of my friends couldn’t understand why I fell in love with this "weird" college town, but there was a force of impression on me; an impact that made me want to stay for the long-term. I had optimism and freedom to develop my entrepreneurial spirit, feed my creative soul and embrace diversity of thought.
Twenty-five years later, do I still feel the same way?
I must admit, sometimes it’s a struggle. In a time where dissenting opinions have led to individuals attacking one another—shutting down collaboration and halting development—it can be hard to remain optimistic about the future of our community.
That’s why I find the work of the Eugene Chamber encouraging. As a community, we are fortunate to have Brittany Quick-Warner and her team at the helm of positive leadership in our city. They embody the value of impact and truly are solution-oriented and relentlessly optimistic.
As a Chamber board member and a member of the Local Government Affairs Council (LGAC), I have renewed hope that as a community we can have opposing beliefs and continue to work together to find new solutions for a better Eugene.
There’s room for disagreement and critical conversations, but there is always mutual respect. We work collectively as business leaders to solve challenges facing our community—sometimes that’s messy.
The recent passage of the payroll tax to fund public safety was one of those messy situations. I realize there are differing opinions about the payroll tax, but I believe one thing we can agree on is the need to fund public safety. Solid public safety is a necessity for creating positive impact for the overall wellbeing of our community.
The payroll tax conversation required perseverance as we worked through challenging and sometimes heated viewpoints together; the ability for LGAC and the Chamber board to openly discuss numerous opposing thoughts, but actively listening to one another helped us make a comprehensive decision to support the payroll tax. I wish I could say that all of this was easy. It wasn’t. It isn’t. And, it may never be—but we have solidarity for how we are creating impact collectively.
The willingness to build a culture that balances opposition with respect is spilling over to communities outside of Eugene. Other cities in Oregon are taking notice of the partnership between the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, Eugene City Council and Eugene Police Department to pass the payroll tax. They’re surprised and encouraged by the leadership that the Eugene Chamber brought to this decision.
Am I still happy to call Eugene home after all these years? Absolutely! I have a renewed optimism and determination for creating radical collective impact; how about you?
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