Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Growth — can’t live with it, can’t live without it

Growth. It’s a big deal everywhere. If the economy stops growing, we’re in trouble — recession. We like it when our income grows. Everybody seems to be seeking personal growth.

Growth is good, right? Well, not to everybody, not all the time.

Folks in Sisters have an ambivalent attitude toward growth. Many people would like to see a stronger, more diverse economy here, with better-paying jobs. That means economic development. Growth.

We got a pretty strong dose of growth after the sewer was constructed in the late ’90s. Some folks don’t care for the denser more “urban” feel of some of the housing in town, but most people will admit that it’s pretty nice to have a laundromat, a movie theater, some new restaurants. We still haven’t seen a whole lot of economic development and diversification, but there has been some.

For the most part, growth has been pretty good to Sisters. So far.

But how much is enough? We received several angry letters to the editor this week from people didn’t like a story we ran about planning for an “eco-destination resort” in the Metolius Basin. They thought the story was way too kind to “development interests,” that the paper is “siding with unrestrained growth.”

Well, no. The story had a narrow focus on what developers plan to do with a specific development. It wasn’t about the controversy over such developments or their environmental implications.

But the response is indicative of something important. People are worried about what growth will do to the qualities that make Sisters Sisters — natural beauty; untrammeled access to acres and acres of woods, streams and mountains; a small-town sense of community.

Everybody is concerned about that — including most developers, who recognize the Sisters Country’s qualities as critical selling points for their projects.

Where and how to draw the line on growth — how to manage it while protecting individual property rights, how to mediate between competing goals and desires — is a maddeningly difficult chore. It’s easy to deal in absolutes — development good; development bad. But that’s not the real world. Development brings both benefits and costs and weighing those out is the trick.

I don’t have any silver bullets. How about you?

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Maybe people wouldn't have thought the article was biased if it had included any comment from someone who opposes the resort. It's not the first time the nugget wrote something like that.

  2. One good way to start slowing down growth is to hold all the realators accountable who advertise "Sisters School District"in their print ads and TV commercials.They should give a portion of their profit for selling out the quality of our schools.Also charge realators more money for the ads that feature their faces.What a waste of space that could be used for information or featuring "good News" .When will realators realize that a picture of their smiling face is not is not going to sell me on their services!