Urban Oregonians are nearly twice as likely than rural residents to say Oregon is headed in the right direction (41% vs. 22%), according to a recent survey by the Oregon Values and Belief Center. That’s a difference that should grab headlines, seize our attention and steer our policy.

We need a statewide vision that inspires urban and rural Oregonians alike to see a better future for themselves, their community and the state as a whole.

How you see your future is how you act in the present. When you’re optimistic, you make long-term investments, you make long-term plans and you try to improve on the efforts and initiatives that are in place. These are all the sorts of activities that make a strong community even stronger. They result in folks going back to school, launching small businesses and getting involved in their community.

When you’re pessimistic, you’re not looking forward to tomorrow. In fact, you’re likely to be more anxious and stressed, tired and sick. Pessimism is unhealthy. I think we can all agree that we would rather avoid the sort of gloom associated with thinking that the best days have come and gone.

It’s not surprising that rural Oregonians feel less than cheery about the future of Oregon. On the economy, 51% of rural Oregonians think economic conditions in the state are getting worse, compared to just 43% of their urban counterparts. What’s more, 25% of rural Oregonians are very worried about their personal finances, whereas just 20% of urban residents feel the same.

A simple goal for all statewide leaders, then, should be to give Oregonians a future to look forward to.

What investments from Salem are going to lead to better tomorrows in Adel and Astoria? What new programs are going to lift up families in Baker City and Bandon? What regulations will be removed or restored to uplift small businesses in Condon and Coos Bay?

A detailed vision that specificity calls out how Oregonians across the state will realize a better tomorrow is what our state deserves and needs. It’s no secret that “moonshots” can compel people into action and spark innovation. If Oregonians see a tomorrow worth fighting for, then they’ll sacrifice today.

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Kevin Frazier was raised in Washington County. He is pursuing a law degree at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

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