I (Karen, but of course) am thrilled to be participating in my first VOIS Board meeting this afternoon…as a Board member! The VOIS Alliance (Voice for Oregon Innovation and Sustainability) is an exciting new organization that brings sustainable Oregon businesses together to make sure that state and local-level policies make it the natural choice to implement business policies that are sensible in the long run, as well as in the short-term.

Last night, as a preview of coming attractions, I attended a VOIS policy education event that highlighted several issues that will probably come up during the upcoming state legislative session–several of which are relevant to sustainable businesses such as ours, and by extension to people (like you!) who are interested in working with and supporting us.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we heard from and discussed with State Senator Jackie Dingfelder, State Senator (and Senate majority leader) Diane Rosenbaum, and State Representative Jefferson Smith:

First, it’s worth acknowledging the fact that the state’s budget shortfall is going to drive decision-making this session. Although this will make for tough choices, it also presents an opportunity to reaffirm our intentions for the future of our state: always working toward making it a place where people are able to live safe, healthy, and productive lives in a network of supportive communities that draw from but do not exhaust abundant natural resources.

Also, I have to mention the economic development endeavor called economic gardening. First, because it includes the word “gardening,” which is quite appropriate! And second, because it’s such a great idea. The point of the economic gardening effort is to build capacity within existing small and medium-sized businesses that are already up and running here in the state, instead of focusing as much on attracting new businesses to the area. I like this because it parallels our garden advice: use well the space and other resources you have immediately available before you go looking for more!

Additionally, we’re likely to hear a lot about renewable energy, job creation, and healthcare this session. Beyond mentioning the topics, there’s too much more to say to say much more here. So, stay tuned on those fronts. From my blogger’s chair, I’ll be doing my best to balance on-the-ground gardening information with larger-scale goings-on!