Toward One Oregon

Rural-Urban Interdependence and the Evolution of a State

The evolution of Oregon’s economy has followed two distinct tracks—the rural path and the urban one. A series of essays examines this history from varying viewpoints.

175 pages. ©2011.
Available Formats:

Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted December 7, 2022


Toward One Oregon" looks at Oregon's urban and rural history. Weaving in this history via political, economic, and demographic filters. Examines our current state of two Oregon's (urban/rural) and suggest ways that we can come together as one state.

[email protected]

Review posted September 18, 2022


Interesting, concise look at what got us to where we are as a divided state. I was hoping to see more ideas about how we get to a more balanced and fruitful future but was a bit disappointed on that front.


Review posted May 10, 2022


I’m am really enjoying this multidisciplinary analysis of this text.

Niki Price

Review posted March 24, 2022


I enjoyed this book!


Review posted March 3, 2022


This book is older so the data is not super useful but the concepts shared are very useful. There are many in our country and world that seek to divide us. This book helps us to see how we can connect and be better together!


Review posted February 16, 2022


Hibbard et. al. provide a thought-provoking analytical look at the ways rural and urban characteristics cut across Oregon communities. The research presented is salient, despite the time that has passed between the research and today. Required reading for small city planners throughout the state!


Review posted December 25, 2021


A thoughtful,examination of Oregon's urban/rural divides with useful suggestions on how to connect the two more profitably


Review posted September 26, 2021


This was an insightful helpful read especially for this NYC transplant! I would recommend it to all concerned with making positive projects with their communities.


Review posted September 23, 2021


A great introduction to the geography of politics in Oregon. Due for an update, though, to reflect demographic changes, and greater recognition of non-white populations who have different experiences.Should also add a chapter about pre-settler people and their relationships to each other as well as settlers.


Review posted March 15, 2021


This is an interesting explanation of the rural and urban perspectives and Oregon’s history.


Review posted November 4, 2020


Interesting background information.


Review posted September 16, 2020


Really good history of the state of Oregon as well as how the urban and rural divide has grown over the years.


Review posted August 6, 2020


Toward One Oregon was an excellent overview of the history and structure of political, economic, and cultural divisions in Oregon, and how they are all interconnected. I took extensive notes while reading this book and will be referencing it in my daily work. My only wish is that it is eventually updated in the future to reflect our ever-changing human landscapes, and to help guide Oregonians on the path to unity. Excellent read, and I highly recommend it.


Review posted March 18, 2020


The subtitle and the main title of this book should be switched. This book does a great job describing all the differences politically, socially and economically that divide the urban Oregonians from Rural Oregonians. Only the last chapter of the book touches on areas in which we can find common ground. The biggest take away I got is understanding that urbanites can pass statewide legislation to fund their progressive agenda, but it won't be popular in rural communities unless those communities are given local control of those funds. Also, it was published in 2011. Any book about Oregon politics that is more than two years old will inherently be missing some relevent context.


Review posted December 9, 2019


While this book was published in 2011, it is still so relevant to the political divide in Oregon between rural and urban communities. I so appreciated the historical context, as well as the exploration of policy and economics throughout Oregon. I continuously found myself wishing there was an amendment, taking into account the national and statewide discourse that has influenced where we are now. I will definitely be saving this book as a reference and found it to be both readable and informative.


Review posted October 31, 2019


An excellent collection of papers on Oregon. Historical perspectives on urban and rural challenges. Excellent data on the urban/rural divide with accompanying graphics. A realistic statement of challenges.


Review posted August 24, 2019


Toward One Oregon seeks to provide historical context for the urban-rural divide in Oregon and encourage greater cooperation between both areas. The book describes the economic, political and cultural causes of strained relationship between Oregon's urban and rural communities, and the authors propose the solution of bridging the divide by focusing on economic interdependence over political and cultural issues. In the opinion of this reviewer, the authors gloss over the root causes of the values-based conflict between urban and rural Oregon, specifically that urban Oregon voters have become less willing to tolerate discrimination toward members of racial, ethnic, gender and religious minorities. The book describes this conflict at the 30,000-foot level, but it fails to call out the wrongness of the anti-gay and anti-Latino bigotry by powerful groups of Oregonians over the past 30 years. This flaw notwithstanding, the book is an excellent primer on the history of Oregon's economy and valuable overview of the politics of our state. It is a worthwhile and manageable read.


Review posted August 1, 2019


Great record of the history and future of the Urban-rural divide in Oregon. It glosses over tribal lands, both the history and relationship with rural and urban areas, as well as the future of these relationships. Would have loved to have a more honest assessment of these included.


Review posted May 10, 2019


In reading "Toward On Oregon", I found my self wondering how slowly evolution moves even in the coming together of cultures and economies. Ranchers, Native Tribe People and public lands are especially topics that is difficult to parse. The right to own something sustainably, is another issue without regulation or question. This book was a good starting point for my understanding of this divide.


Review posted April 29, 2019


Somewhat technical (academic) studies of various Oregon issues. Each study/chapter is well written - and you can find/learn a lot of about rural Oregon and the links to the cities. Oregon never disappoints.


Review posted November 3, 2018


This should be required reading for anyone working in government, community-based organizations, or philanthropy in Oregon. Chapters 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 strike a particularly good balance between insightful and accessible. This slim work does an incredible job of charting the history of Oregon’s urban/rural divide and the economic, political, and cultural forces that have contributed to narrowing or widening that divide over the years. I hope OSU press will commission an updated work in the next couple years that speaks more to the impacts of race and immigration on these dynamics. My only complaint is that, with different authors writing each chapter, shifts in the tone/quality of writing can be jarring. Chapters 2 and 5 are particularly, painfully, heavy on quantitative analysis.


Review posted August 31, 2018


I find this book interesting reading


Review posted January 18, 2018


I enjoyed reading Toward One Oregon. It contains a lot of data, and data trends and helps one understand some current policy and funding trends that have been set at the State level. This would be an excellent book to use as the basis for a community dialog about advocacy, conflict, and rural vitality.


Review posted December 18, 2017


This book was very enlightening and educational for me as I transitioned from urban living in the Midwest to rural living/work on the Oregon Coast.


Review posted November 3, 2017


This is a very useful review of the history, context, and current dynamics of the urban and rural misunderstandings and tensions that define Oregon. For me, it was too fact-heavy. The reliance on statistics made it difficult to read. Although I was interested in the subject matter, the reading was not gripping. I would have preferred a narrative style. Overall, I would recommend this book to people hoping to learn about the forces creating urban and rural circumstances in Oregon.


Review posted October 29, 2017


The relationship between urban and rural is certainly an important subject in Oregon, as it is across the US. Overall this book is a good starting point, and encourages some reflection on the topic. With that said, it could have benefitted from a wider scope to provide some key context. An understanding of the specific situation in Oregon can be strengthened by providing case studies from other parts of the country, and a deeper analysis of rural/urban relationships across societies throughout human history, neither of which this book includes. Also, the perspective of this book is economic. This is fine, and the authors do cross some disciplinary lines, but it is lacking input from the social sciences. That input would be especially beneficial when (somewhat clumsily) addressing topics such as shifting demographics, ethnic diversity, and ideological differences.


Review posted October 25, 2017


As someone who grew up in a big city, and now living and working in a small town, this book gave some great insight on the relationship between rural and urban and the importance of bridging that gap. I've recommended this book to some of my colleagues, and they love it too!


Review posted October 12, 2017


As a newbie to Oregon I really enjoyed this book. I found it incredibly engaging and really helpful in learning the history of Oregon and how it has helped fuel what the state is today.


Review posted September 25, 2017


Toward One Oregon provides charts and graphs that help visualize the rural/ urban divide. A book that should be read in whatever order fits your needs.


Review posted November 28, 2016


Toward One Oregon: Rural-Urban Interdependence and the Evolution of a State. Edited by Michael Hibbard, Ethan Seltzer, Bruce Weber, Beth Emshoff. Corvallis, OR. Oregon State University Press, 2011 Oregon is noted for it’s annual football Civil War, which for 122 years has seen the Oregon Ducks, representing the University of Oregon play the Oregon State Beavers, representing Oregon State University. Though titled ‘The Civil War’ both universities are world class schools boasting of excellent faculties and drawing thousands of students annually. Public schools all over the state have ‘Civil War’ days before the game, usually played the last Saturday of November. Students and staff dress in their favorite team’s colors and much good natured joking goes with winning and losing the game. There is a different kind of ‘civil’ war, however in Oregon. In the book, Toward One Oregon, the editors gathered a host of regional scholars to discuss economic and social issues that seem to divide Oregon into two distinct regions: rural and urban. The editors offer a definition of the regions: “urban refers to a metropolitan area: a city, its suburbs, and nearby communities caught up in a metropolitan web of commuting and transactions. Rural designates the area distant from these metropolitan hubs” (13). Other definitions are offered as well (see pp. 19-ff). Regardless of how one defines rural and urban, it is clear that there are marked differences between the regions. Population growth is larger in urban areas. The ownership of land is different. “In metro counties 51 percent of the land is privately owned; in nonmetro counties, 42 percent” (25). Job markets differ greatly. Metro areas tend towards professional, specialized types of jobs, while rural communities tend toward natural-resource industry jobs and public-service employment. Public schools are different as well. While excellent schools exist in both areas, spending is higher per pupil in rural areas because of transportation costs and higher ratios of teachers to students (37). Carl Abbot and William G. Robbins offer two excellent reviews of the growth and development of Oregon from a historical point of view. Portland, according to Abbot, is a ‘primate city,’ “one that far outstrips its potential rivals and competitors in a region or nation” (41). The development of Portland is an interesting study in how one city can impact an entire state and even region. The development of the railroad, the production of natural resources, and now the the growth of companies dealing with technology impacted Portland in greater ways than the rest of the state. Jobs, the scale of living, and availability of natural wonders such as the ocean, mountains, and associated recreational opportunities have made Portland an attractive place to live and raise a family. Rural Oregon, however, has not fared as well. Robbins cites several reasons why rural Oregon has not fared as well as Portland, Salem, Eugene, and even Bend: “depleted natural resources, the movement of capitol investment to more profitable venues, labor-saving technologies, and environmental restrictions” (75). Robbins sees the evidence of small, rural communities being left behind as evidence of capitalism and its natural cycles of boom and bust (76). But even Portland is not immune to the ups and downs of economic cycles and varying public perceptions of the natural resource industry that has been the backbone of most of rural Oregon. Holland, Lewin, Sorte, and Weber, in their chapter, “The Declining Economic Interdependence of the Portland Metropolitan Core…” note that the listing of the spotted own as an endangered species “caused an estimated loss of 4,400 jobs in Portland” (82). Though rural towns and regions felt an even deeper impact, the loss of jobs in Portland impacts state revenue gathered through income taxes, which creates dilemmas for spending on state wide needs such as public safety and education. In the chapter, “The Politics of One Oregon” the authors suggest three steps that could strengthen the relationship between rural and urban Oregon. First, “if the state took steps to boost the economic position of the rural communities, the rural and urban areas would no longer be divided by difference in economic well-being, which might lead to more agreement of other policy issues” (135). Second, research indicates the rural and urban residents are more closely aligned on ecological issues than one might assume. If some common ground could be found towards resolving some of these issues, other policy issues might be more likely to produce agreement. Finally, rural and urban Oregonians are more closely linked on issues regarding state revenue and spending. There may very well be some common ground on some specific spending and revenue matters as well. The final chapter, “Reframing our Common Cause in an Interdependent World” offers one closing comment: “We need to focus on the things that unite us, and to agree to disagree on the things that don’t” (164). The Civil War may make our November’s enjoyable, but the reality remains: there are two distinct regions in Oregon. The likelihood of erasing the divide between rural and urban is not very high. To achieve interdependence that values all citizens is a lofty goal, but one that seems out of reach. Both urban and rural Oregon need each other. Health care, education, public safety are not just urban issues. Drug abuse and mental health issues are as evident in rural neighborhoods as in inner-city urban areas. Rural Oregonians need to continue their habits of collaborating together seeking to define challenges and find solutions without depending on the state for all of our answers. Urban communities can also learn to work together as neighborhoods in order to solve problems on their own streets. Subsidiarity still makes sense. Those closest to the problem and the most likely to find solutions. Urban and rural Oregonians can celebrate a common heritage. After all our state was almost exclusively rural at its beginnings! We can also find ways to work for our common future.


Review posted March 22, 2016


Toward one Oregon reviews the history of Oregon's urban and rural economies, people, and politics. The book acknowledges substantial geographical divisions and brings forth strategies that could allow urban and rural communities to work together in collaboration, rather than in competition or disorganization, in order to further common goals shared by Oregonians as a whole. Topics such as the food & forestry industries, education, and environmental policy are explored. I appreciated the discussion on how technology and globalization are impacting rural and urban communities differently and at different paces. Also, changes in demographics (race, age, etc) are addressed, though more depth of analysis would be welcome. The prose is rather academic so it's not light reading but I appreciate the extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter so that topics important to my region can be explored more in depth.


Review posted February 22, 2016


This is an excellent curated reference to the urban-rural connection in Oregon.


Review posted January 28, 2016


Although I'm very interested in this topic, this was a tough read for me. I found myself drifting off. I would love to hear more from the perspective of rural Oregonians, especially regarding their views of Portland and how things have been going post-recession.


Review posted July 29, 2015


A broad perspective on the past and present evolution of the state. As a newcomer from the midwest this gave me some good perspectives and increased my understanding of the landscape of 2015 here. the best quote " The reality is that Oregon is not a simple urban core surrounded by a rural periphery. It is a variegated quilt of densely and sparsely populated places, some growing and some not, distributed not quite randomly across a resource-rich natural landscape."


Review posted July 10, 2015


After spending 20 years of my adult life in the Portland area and now living on the Central Oregon Coast for the last 17, I am reminded daily of the "two Oregon's". Florence suffers somewhat from the "now here's" vs. the "been here's." I have a much better understanding of the potential for conflict between the two groups, despite our mutual appreciation for the natural environment. Employment opportunities here are thin, at best. A workforce prepared for 21st century jobs has migrated to the population centers. The concept of Metropolitan counties was new to me, but makes perfect sense. Eugene is much more than Costco, Wal-Mart, and Trader Joe's. I hope the authors update the book soon, and focus on the urban and rural recovery following the 2008 Great Recession. I am also hopeful that someday, the millennial generation will realize that a great life is not dependent on living in the city. The economic development efforts in Florence would benefit from strengthening ties with Eugene-Springfield businesses.

Jane Anderson

Review posted June 19, 2015


This book was a bit of a difficult read for me since the initial chapters include a considerable amount of "economics speak". The essays featured in the book obviously entailed a great deal of research on the part of the authors, so were highly informative.This would be a great book for someone doing their own research on economies in the state. To me the most interesting chapter was "The Politics of One Oregon". I found that very engaging and feel I learned a great deal from it. I found Sheila Martin's chapter, "Critical Linkages", a bit frustrating to read as I have been personally involved with groups in my local area in attempting to convince our legislators that Oregon's "Forest Practices Act" is outdated and causing harm to the water quality and sustainability of our forest lands, including the drinking water of my neighbors in rural Oregon. When she claims that following the FPA guidelines assures that those who market sustainable forest products will surpass their counterparts in other states I think she should have qualified that as states other than those in the Pacific NW because our forest regulations are inferior to any other state in our region. I was disappointed that there was so little mention of the possibility of developing enhanced tourism opportunities in Oregon's forest lands and the businesses that could result from that. If we continue to allow clearcutting and over harvesting as the only salvation for those communities that are blessed with extended forest lands we will ruin our chances to establish a reputation as a favored destination for those seeking a satisfying wilderness experience.


Review posted April 24, 2015


Excellent overview of the dynamic differences and interchanges of Oregon's rural and urban economics. Highly recommended!


Review posted March 15, 2015


Written by Oregon academics and other big thinkers, this book is not an easy read. The information and analysis it contains make the work wothwhile. It covers a range of topics, from a condensed history of the growth of Portland and the role of the Grange, to a discussion of the economic effects that Portland and the rest of the state have had on each other. The book is a "must read" for anyone interested in rural economic development or how rural Oregon got to where it is now. The authors are hopeful about Oregon's future. That's welcome news, because these folks are really experts. This book is tied to the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project topic "Toward One Oregon: Bridging the Urban/Rural Divide," which is led by some of the authors of the book.

Beth Crowe

Review posted March 4, 2015


Sorry, it was sooo boring. I think the topic is important. As I was skimming through it, I kept thinking we need a book like this about folks are are GMO fans and GMO opposed. I actually got the book because our local Grange is hosting a "Toward One Oregon" conversation with rural and urban participants. I think it is facilitated by the Oregon Humanities Group.


Review posted January 18, 2015


I was eager to read all the perspectives from the variety of contributors. This book has so much insight into both Oregon's "traditional" view and exposes (by implication) that Oregonians must broaden their worldview and assess all the strengths and resources it holds to find its way into the next part of this century. A hopeful study overall.


Review posted October 18, 2014