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Let's clean up some industrial-age 'detritus'

Please don’t get me wrong, I have found James Nicita’s Blue Heron Beginnings series to be excellent. His latest March 5, “Come see the falls and watch us make things,” was brilliant. His ideas are downright exciting and ought be given serious consideration.

What concerns me, as we strive toward a “kind of innovation in city-building that might allow us to put a stamp on our era” is that we will neglect to recognize what our era demands. More than anything, our era calls for a new relationship between humankind and the natural environment. The 19th and 20th century has bequeathed us a landscape littered with the detritus of the industrial age — rusting factory towns, high unemployment and environmental pollution. I suggest we reach back beyond the era that produced Blue Heron to an earlier vision of man’s integrated relationship with the natural world. What is extraordinary about our Oregon City is Willamette Falls itself. Their magnificence is what has always called people to this area. Herein we are unique. Herein our town is a destination point. This call, timeless, comes not entirely from commercial potentials of the river but from a sense of awe and reverence deep inside the human spirit.

Mr. Nicita’s ideal of retaining the integrity of the industrial architecture, of creating a multidimensional work force, and harnessing the food and agriculture industry is a great vision for the use of the Blue Heron property. But if we really want to create a vision for Oregon City that will carry us deep into the 21st century, it is essential that we place Willamette Falls itself at the center of our concerns. As a start, we can do this by removing all unnecessary structures, honoring the flood plain and by restoring — in a generous manner — the natural habitat through creating inviolable green space.

Cristina Case-Gabbard

Oregon City

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