Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 25th, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Cycle Oregon, the marquee bike ride that attacts over 2,000 participants every year, has been named the 2010 Honored Citizen by the Architecture Foundation of Oregon, (AFO) a non-profit organization that "advocates for the enhancement of our built environment, the livability of our communities, and preservation of our rich architectural heritage."
Why is the AFO bestowing its highest honor -- which in the past has gone to the likes of Congressman Earl Blumnenaur and former Oregon Governor and U.S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield -- to a bike ride? Because Cycle Oregon is much more than just a bike ride.
"Cycle Oregon takes riders, mostly from the metro area, into rural Oregon and the Oregon landscape inspires an awful lot of good architecture."
-- Bart Eberwein, board member of the AFO and Cycle Oregon
Executive Director of the AFO Jane Jarret says they selected Cycle Oregon for their "tremendous gifts to the state and to Oregon’s built environment." Through the Cycle Oregon Fund, Cycle Oregon supports the communities it passes through each year not just with the economic boost of a tent city numbering nearly 3,000 riders and volunteers, but in the form of annual grants to help the communities with a variety of projects. Specifically, Jarret mentioned Cycle Oregon funded projects like grange hall improvements in the tiny Wheeler County town of Spray, restoration of the Elgin Opera House, support of the Butte Falls Community Center, and major gifts they've given to preservation of the Historic Columbia River Highway.
"Cycle Oregon is leaving tracks of philanthropy to support infrastructure all across Oregon," Jarret adds, "And here at AFO, we consider all of Oregon’s built environment – bridges, grain elevators, light houses, gardens – important to the livability of our citizenry. We don’t narrow our “architecture” focus to skyscrapers."
Beyond the monetary impacts, longtime board member of both the AFO and Cycle Oregon, Bart Eberwein, says this award also has to do with Cycle Oregon's knack for inspiring people. "Cycle Oregon takes riders, mostly from the metro area, into rural Oregon and the Oregon landscape inspires an awful lot of good architecture. From Belluschi to Frasca [noted architects] they will tell you it is the mountains, the rivers, the woods, etc. that provide design ideas."
Put another way, Eberwein says the award is about the benefits of an urban/rural "conversation." "Cycle Oregon knits together metro and rural on a two-way street - the metro folk bring back ideas and sensibilities; the rural folk get money and respect from our riders."
The AFO will honor Cycle Oregon as their 2010 Honored Citizen at a ceremony on September 28th at the Oregon Convention Center.