If there’s any silver lining to 2020, it has been a resurgence of appreciation for the simple things in life. Time with family and health top the list. Some less likely candidates such as baking, sewing and taking a walk or run outside have made a comeback.
In Oregon, our forests give us many reasons to be thankful. They provide clean drinking water, remove carbon from the air, and provide lumber for wood products such as homes and furniture. They also provide family-wage jobs to 61,000 Oregonians. These jobs provide economic stability to families and communities across the state.
The devastating Labor Day fires of 2020 resulted in the deaths of nine people, burned over 1 million acres of forestland and destroyed more than 4,000 homes. For those impacted by these fires, this may be a difficult Thanksgiving. However, many stories of hope have emerged that share the universal truth that we are most thankful for the simple things in life.
A family from Phoenix lost their home and business, but with help from the local community they’re getting back on their feet. They left their home so quickly that there was no time to gather more than a night’s worth of clothes. When they returned to see what they could recover, it was the unexpected discovery of a family wristwatch, which had been passed down through several generations, that was most meaningful.
As the wildfires still raged across the state, three Oregonians decided to deliver some hope to children who were evacuated due to the Holiday Farm fire. Dressed as Superman, Batman and Belle, they provided a welcome escape and comfort to children who enjoyed their familiar faces and stories.
So in addition to being thankful for the clean air, water, jobs and wood that come from Oregon’s forests, this month I’m thankful for the hope that’s emerging from the ashes of the Labor Day fires. Please join me in keeping those impacted by the fires in mind as we gather to be thankful for all that we have.
For the forest,