There have been downsides to being married to an elected official. They all pale, though, when compared to one big gift: the people I’ve met. And our good friend Richard Fiala is one of those at the top of the list of people we’re grateful to know. Richard and I can lose complete track of time as we share our stories that go back so deeply into early Oregon. While my great great greats came over on a ship, Richard’s arrived by trail. And while mine did most everything other than farm, his people are farmers. The Fiala farm is a true treasure.
In addition to Richard, I’ve met key figures who toil, not just on their own land, but in their efforts to trademark the Stafford Hamlet, with its tagline “we cherish our rural character.” The Stafford Hamlet “was born out of the idea that change is inevitable, including changing the way we develop. The Hamlet values the qualities–the “Stafford Character”–that make our community a desirable place to live.” In My Music Man I refer to the undeveloped rural land that so many of us recognize to be more valuable preserved than as another super-sized housing development. And in my chapter “Monkeywrenching” I share my earliest land activist story as a mere child upset with local land developers, back in the days of Tom McCall.
The first Annual Stafford Hamlet Family Fest this past weekend was, without a doubt, the best place to be. Gathering of community is so important for all of us – and to join together as we share our love of farms, the treasures near us. For me I received the gift of visiting with friends – who have done so much for us. Jay Minor, Stafford Hamlet Chair, first enticed Russ into the hours of dedicated volunteerism as they toiled, working with cities, Clackamas County, land conservancies and land owners, to complete what many residents enjoy today, often not knowing the hard work that brought it into fruition: the Stafford Basin Trail connecting to Luscher Farm. So many others deserve recognition – as they have helped the Stafford Hamlet find its voice. As Dave Adams, Stafford Hamlet Vice Chair, shared with me today, in modern times, Portlanders have learned to recognize and protect Sauvies Island for what it is – now, finally, our public and residents are understanding how critical it is to preserve land within the Stafford Hamlet. Land that will not come again, and offers us the opportunity to visit, work, learn, appreciate and sit in farm-friendly spaces.