Art and Oregon’s “Good for Nothing” Land

Next time you pour a glass of Oregon pinot noir, consider offering a toast to “SB 100” (Senate Bill 100) – the 1973 law that created Oregon’s land use planning program.

Why? Back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Oregon’s population was growing rapidly. Would-be developers and land speculators were eyeing the rolling hills between Newberg and McMinnville for expensive “large-lot” “view” subdivisions. The soil, they said, was good for nothing.

But a guy named David Lett and a couple of young dreamers on the property next door  – Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser – saw a different future: Vineyards, not home sites.  Grapes not garages.

The rolling hills of Dundee and the “no good” soils have proven very good indeed for Oregon’s wine industry, which has spread throughout the state and now produces some of the world’s finest pinot noirs while generating $3.35 billion into Oregon’s economy.

None of it would have happened without SB 100 – the visionary land use planning law that protects our agricultural lands and helps keep California-style urban sprawl at bay.

That’s worth a toast, or two, we think!

As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we’re honored to be working with Sokol Blosser Winery, which will host an art project commemorating Senate Bill 100.

Oregon Environmental Council was the environmental voice for SB 100, finding common ground with the law’s “godfather” – Hector Macpherson, a Republican dairy farmer – and many others wanting to protect the state we love. Partnering with us is 1000 Friends of Oregon, the land use “watchdog” group formed in 1975 after SB 100’s passage to make sure that our land use laws remain strong.

The art project, a nine-foot tall steel frame, is being designed by Jason Rens at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. It reflects SB 100’s role as a framework for Oregonians coming together to envision a better future. At the end of a long walkway adjacent to the new tasting room at Sokol Blosser Winery, the artwork will rest just a few feet from the fenceline with adjoining Eyrie Vineyards, founded by David Lett, who was a long-time board member of 1000 Friends. (Susan Sokol-Blosser was an Oregon Environmental Council board member.)

Playfully, Rens has named the art piece “Framian” – an Old English precursor of today’s “frame” that, apropos of SB 100, meant “to benefit, make progress” or proto-Germanic “to further.”

In Rens’ words: “I began to imagine Senate Bill 100 as a constellation of language shaping a vision of possibility – a shared dream carried by protectors and translators serving within each successive generation. We look to these words and seek to understand the spirit within them. I saw this living thing as a shape or physical form: a doorway or window of perception or threshold or liminal space …  It is the outline of our love and the passageway to our hope.”

Framian will beckon visitors to pass through a portal that Rens describes as a “window which frames the geographic birthplace of the Oregon wine industry … one can look back to see what was, while also looking ahead to glimpse what is yet to be.”

Framian will be installed and dedicated this summer and is one of a series of projects that we are developing around the state, putting an artist’s spin on the Beach Bill, the Bottle Bill and the Bike Bill, as well as the land use planning program.

The Oregon we love today would certainly look, feel – and taste — very differently today without them!

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1 Reply to "Art and Oregon’s “Good for Nothing” Land"

  • Jane Civiletti
    February 20, 2018 (9:58 pm)

    Thank you for working with and for the land of Yamhill County.