Props For The Public Interest

By Henry Kraemer of Portland, OR. Henry is political director of the Bus Project, an organization that works to engage Oregon's next generation through hands-on democracy and foster fun, innovation and courage in politics.

A few days ago the forces of good in Oregon came together for The Wheelies, a Bus Awards Show for Stuff that Matters. Although the Bus Project puts on the show, it’s more a vehicle for the appreciation we in the progressive movement have for one another.

Over the last two years, our beloved Beaver State has been a veritable cornucopia of people-powered politics. Since 2006, Oregon’s political landscape has been fundamentally altered by regular citizens talking to each other, sharing visions, and pushing for change. We activists are often too concentrated on our own campaigns (insert shameless plug for the 23,000 voters registered and 60,000 doors knocked on by Bus volunteers in 2008) to notice the wonderful work being done by our partners.

So we decided to put on The Wheelies.

With the inimitable Gov. John Kitzhaber as MC and presentations from everyone from former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury to Basic Rights Oregon Executive Director Jeana Frazzini, the Wheelies celebrated folks doing great things for Oregon. Fabulous videos were previewed. A VoteBot (a robot powered by youthy volunteers) was unveiled. And most importantly, awards were doled-out.


A video, for your viewing pleasure:

VoteBot, powering up for the special election:


And the winners were....

The Legend Award, for lifetime achievement

DemoForum, which held five forward-thinking conferences between 1968 and 1974 and created a public interest network of Oregonian leaders, fostering governors, congressmen, mayors, legislators and more.

The Citizen-Driven Campaign Award, for a people-powered campaign that never cut a paycheck

Sunset Primary School Fourth Graders, who launched an impressive campaign to designate the Dungeness Crab as the Oregon state crustacean. Their acceptance speech was a 10 out of 10 on the adorable scale.

Wheelies_4th graders

The Courage Award, for going out on a limb for the common good

Oregon Food Bank for campaigning against Measure 64, which you may remember as Bill Sizemore's ballot measure to cripple grassroots groups, unions and charities.

The Six-E-est Award, for innovative public policy

The 2009 legislative session's state-based healthcare reform, which is now helping to guide the national conversation on reform..

The High Road Bus-iness Award, for value-driven companies

New Seasons, for doing groceries right, through serious sustainability and a high standard for employee treatment.

The Ben Fain Volunteer Award, for Bus volunteers going far above and beyond the call of duty

The leadership team of the online action organization Onward Oregon and longtime Bus volunteer & electoral organizer Andrea Cooper.


The Best Supporting Activist Award, for great work done behind the scenes

Gerik Kransky, the Outreach Director for 1000 Friends of Oregon.


The Campaign for the Public Good Award, for an organization doing great grassroots work

Farm to School, for packing the hearing rooms during the 2009 legislative session to connect local food and schools, creating healthy meals and local jobs.

The Not Left, Not Right, But For(A)ward, for outstanding achievement in bipartisanship

Tuition equity, with props to the Oregon Students of Color Coalition.

Many, many folks deserve commendation (I wish there was space to shout out all the nominees), but to get a big ol' plaque, they'll have to wait until the next Wheelies.

In the meantime, you should hang out with the VoteBot, which was unveiled at The Wheelies and will be registering young voters and stirring up excitement about the January 26th Special election. If you'd interesting in joining the VoteBot Army, shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]

See you on the Bus.

  • John Silvertooth (unverified)

    "The Legend Award, for lifetime achievement

    DemoForum, which held five forward-thinking conferences between 1968 and 1974 and created a public interest network of Oregonian leaders, fostering governors, congressmen, mayors, legislators and more."

    Huh? Wow that's a view of history- it seems to me that the "DemoForum" (not be be confused with the long-running DemoFourm in Eugene) was mostly Neil Goldschmidt's attempt to put together his answer to Packwood's Dorchester Conference and without much of a success or following- the talent that may have been present at the DemoFourms would have made their careers without it. The idea that this was some public interest movement- Goldschmidt never really had time to cohabitate space with the real Democratic party and all of the little old women and old time populists so he tried to construct his own organization to promote his interests. The event lodging always seemed to be a little expensive for many of the party activists and Goldschmidt whined when people complained that the Democratic Party never had events in "nice" places-

    I'll crawl back in my cave now.

  • rw (unverified)

    I am totally unaware of the real people on the scene, only the ones who make the tip out of the waves here and in the news - so it's nice to hear the guts of the Oregon Operation named. Nice mix - kids, the Food Bank, a seriously behind the scenes always there volunteer force builder, nice.

    THanks for this.

    As a native Oregonian who was an Oregonian no matter where she lived or traveled all these years, I always yearn for us to live up to our Extreme Blue image. This is my kinda blue.

    My only argument: New Seasons. Really? I have to say "ok" to what you say about them. But their prices are so high that only the seriously stable middle class and above can shop there.

    So again I says: REALLY? Are there no other food concerns with pricing that makes them a REAL option for the rest of us that you could vaunt? I know that I'm horrified by Trader Joes and their dreadfully un-green packaging even as I'm a little charmed by their branding and pricing on many things.... at any rate, localism, fair employee treatment, that's a start for sure!

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)

    Isn't it slightly skewed to use the honorific "Governor" title (without the "former and would-be") for Kitzhaber while he's campaigning for the nomination for the job?

  • (Show?)

    the Bus Project did not pick the winners, btw; those were voted on by the public. and if you'll note, one of the reasons New Seasons was nominated was because of their treatment of employees. having been founded by former Natures employees, this is not too surprising. and given how abysmal Wild Oats was in that department (i know from sad personal experience), it's a big damn deal. they did not win because of their prices; that's the wrong thing to holler about.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)

    Seriously rw? Come on a food store that has excellent benefits for even part time employees, supports local growers and the community has got to be funded somehow. Many grocery stores barely exist on less than a 3% profit margin. I say good on them!

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    @George: Former Governors always retain the title "Governor" for the rest of their life. It's perfectly appropriate usage.

  • liberal_ex-democrat (unverified)

    There is no difference between the democratic part and the republican party on issues that matter:

  • USF gunman (unverified)

    Well, this project is really awesome for many ways! Also, the beneficiaries are deserving. Governor have a great ideas dealing with things! However, cheers to the University of South Florida Police – there was a reported armed person on campus, a USF gunman, who was spotted and reported to authorities, who promptly issued a campus knockdown. Shortly thereafter, the USF gunman was taken into custody.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)

    It is sobering to be periodically reminded how a posts's merit as writing and information is inversely proportional to the volume of responses generated. Seems to imply the blogging axiom is "if you can't find something nasty to say, don't".

    News you can use, and thanks for the clarification, T.A.

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