Updated: Sep 14
The COVID19 Pandemic has disrupted more things in our lives than we want to admit. Our work , education, travel, health, sports, food access and many social events that as human beings allow us to nurture our souls together
This is an unprecedented time. It has grounded us and encouraged us to slow down, realize what is working in our lives and realize what might need to be changed.
Over the past couple years I have spent time in many small communities throughout Oregon as I tried to create the Red Truck Outdoor Experience . I met with people in locations from Tillamook County ( Camp Meriwether and the Hydrangea Ranch), to Hood River, to Deschutes County and finally pulled it off this past weekend in Maupin, Oregon.
Each of these communities have amazing natural resources from the ocean, forests, lakes, mountains and rivers that surround them, as well as an abundance of fresh and clear air.
These rural communities each have a deep history that shows how they have emerged and flourished over the years. Many of these towns have also been impacted by different factors. How do these smaller towns economically remain resilient during the ebb and flow of our economy?
Maupin started as a railroad town that connected Central Oregon and the Columbia Gorge and has hundreds of miles of ranches and farms raising livestock and growing everything from wheat, hemp, apples and now solar and wind power.
Maupin is an outdoor recreation mecca for the best fishing and white water rafting and cycling in Oregon. The flow of enthusiasts balloons to 80,000-100,000 people from April through September. The town's year round population is 623.
Maupin's heritage was rooted in building the railroad
I have met with people from local tourism boards, economic development councils and the local health and education officials putting programs in place to smooth out the economic impact curve in these rural communities.
I am sitting at home in Portland during this pandemic knowing that our part of the state will be the last to fully open up safely. This is a time to simplify and think:
What are the basic survival elements during our isolation? Food, Shelter, Healthcare, Electricity and Access to technology (internet, tv, phones).
During the past 12 months, I have seen rural communities that have brought fiber networks to their towns creating economic and educational sovereignty in these areas.
I am excited to see these fiber optic networks being adopted by local co-ops and communities to provide access to citizens, businesses and schools outside of urban areas.
This is a recent example of one company going into four smaller communities that will benefit in the long run from this investment.
INTERSECTION OF IDEAS
I started working on a project in Maupin that will bring a world class track and field complex into the the center of the town.
I was thrilled to hear that the fiber network was already set up, which provides another opportunity to livestream events from this venue similar to how we put on a last minute world class race with 2,500 people in the crowd, which has now been viewed over 30,000 times.
Maupin's leadership put a fiber network connection into every home and business.
I love seeing it starting to happen in areas that will benefit by bringing a more diverse workforce and providing access to education, especially with our current challenges of disruption to our education system as we know it. Following the Red Truck Outdoor Experience, we hosted a Minecraft night at a local hotel that virtually connected over 25 kids in the Northwest, including 6-8 students from Maupin.
The value that Fiber networks add to homes, schools and businesses will drive new economic and educational experiences to these communities.
This is the story I love to tell to show what could be the model for a small town to thrive
I love to think about the future of the workplace. I had chance to meet with a local resident walking up from the Deschutes River with his fly rod and asked one of the town leaders about him.
He can fish in the morning and then work virtually with his team in real time because the fiber network into Maupin allows him to work remotely and efficiently overlooking the Deschutes River.
They said that he lived near the school, had just built a home in Maupin, but works for SalesForce out of San Francisco. SalesForce is leading the way on how the workplace could be shaped through their technology, and what better way to demonstrate it out of a town that has fiber throughout the entire community.
This could be the future of small towns and infrastructure enhancements will bring new value and opportunities to those that embrace it.
It is amazing how some seemingly unrelated elements can connect together and build strength, grit and resilience in these smaller and more rural communities.
I am encouraged when I see the leadership of these towns, see the value for their community, schools, businesses and how they bring new talent and diversity of experience to sustain and grow. IncubatorU is available to bring our workshop to your community to innovate at the intersection and bring new products, services and experiences. Contact me at Michael@incubatorU.com or reach out to book my services as we navigate through these interesting times.