If you’re the civic-minded sort, or simply care about Oregon’s well-being, authors Kristin Anderson and Greg Chaillé would like a word with you.
Before retiring three years ago, Chaillé served for 24 years as president of the Oregon Community Foundation, which promotes philanthropy in the state by working with people, companies and organizations to create charitable funds supporting the causes near and dear to them.
Chaillé’s lengthy career in state-spanning nonprofit work left him uniquely poised to tell the story of Oregonians who give back.
Upon retiring, “People encouraged me to write about my experiences and lessons learned and people I met,” he said last week.
So Chaillé teamed with Anderson, a native Oregonian, former English professor at the University of Oxford and current nonprofit consultant who works around the state, to write the book “State of Giving: Stories of Volunteers, Donors, and Nonprofits.”
Taking a narrative approach, the 300-page book shines a light on Oregon people and agencies that donate their time or money or make careers working in the trenches to improve their communities. Topics covered include education, conservation, arts and culture, hunger, homelessness, the urban-rural divide and social justice, among others.
“We’ve traveled all over the state and interviewed over 350 individuals and 90 nonprofits in the book. We are quite proud of both the statewide mandate the book has, and also the breadth of types of nonprofits and individuals,” Anderson said. “We tried to not just go with the Phil Knights and Arlene Schnitzers and the Nature Conservancies of Oregon, but (also) showcase really small donors and small volunteers and grassroots organizations that needed highlighting too.”
The authors discuss a number of Central Oregon institutions in the book.
Readers will see sections on Caldera Arts Center near Sisters, which hosts art camps for disadvantaged, urban kids, and Jefferson County Historical Society. The society’s eloquent president, retired academic and poet Jarold Ramsey, of Madras, is quoted in the book as saying, “Local history is essential to historical study: local histories are how we flesh out our portrait or America.”
Another Central Oregonian “State of Giving” looks at is former Bulletin editor Bob Chandler, who bought The Bulletin in 1953 and worked to bridge the state’s urban-rural gap.
“Bob did bridge it, because he had a Cessna airplane that allowed him to travel around the state, and with the multiple newspapers he owned, he had reasons to go to Baker City and La Grande and other places,” Chaillé said. As an editor, Chandler mentored young reporters who moved on to larger papers with a better understanding of small-town needs, and his editorials spoke on behalf of small-town interests.
In the 1980s, Chandler served as chairman for Oregon Community Foundation, developing regional leadership councils made up of citizen volunteers.
“He was a uniter of urban and rural (Oregon), and really took it seriously that it was the big issue facing this state,” Chaillé said.
The authors don’t just offer a historical account. They also look at Oregon’s current and future needs, including improvements in arts and cultural funding.
“We think of the book as both a celebration of the good work that’s gone by, and also a call to action for more of the same,” Anderson said.
For readers looking to get more involved, the book also provides an appendix listing volunteer resources. Among them is the Central Oregon nonprofit Volunteer Connect (www.volunteerconnectnow.org), providing a database of organizations looking for volunteers.
“It’s through widespread citizen effort that we’ve really managed to progress in a lot of key issues,” Anderson said. “There’s been a lot of heartening progress. That being said, we make the point in the book that there’s still a lot more that needs to be done.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0349, firstname.lastname@example.org