When someone says “Klamath” I think these words: Water. Fish. Farms. Forest. Fights. It’s a story I saw so often for so many years that I long ago lost interest. So I was delighted to find this weekend’s story in the Oregonian that showed me a different side of Klamath County, Oregon.
One in which geothermal energy is heating greenhouses that help produce a pesticide-free application for strawberry patches, almond orchards and mint fields. The same hot water helps brew beer, raise tropical fish, melt snow off downtown sidewalks and sell homes in Klamath Falls’ Hot Springs neighborhood. And renewable energy is just one plank of a plan to help right the rural area’s economy by focusing on more sustainable business lines.
I don’t know what Kool-Aid the region’s newsrooms were serving this weekend, because it was one of several stories that reexamined iconic Northwest conflicts—the timber wars and salmon recovery—and found pretty constructive solutions.
That’s not to suggest there hasn’t been plenty of real fight to write about. And I’m no fan of self-serving “good news” stories pitched to make someone look good or mask actual problems. But as a journalist, it’s also possible to get so bored with old narratives that you fail to see how the world has moved beyond them in interesting ways.
The Oregonian story isn’t exactly a good news story anyway. It’s about a place where unemployment hit 15 percent. Sure, there’s a little positive spin about the “Sustainable Klamath” brand. But the story manages to offer a real – and surprising – portrait of a community that’s thinking about its future and making investments so history doesn’t repeat itself.
Check out the rest of the Northwest’s top 10 sustainability headlines at
Photo courtesy of flickr uservia the