An opinion researcher who visited Astoria last week said that hunger for a sense of community is a rising value that is apparent across the nation. That thread of community ran through two stories that we published last week. There was the reunion of Fort Clatsop's builders, and there was a subsequent article about the creation of the Shively-McClure Historic District.
Both of these stories, by Tom Bennett and Sandra Swain respectively, are about the singularity of this region. They are also about the fabric of history.
We take for granted the replica of Fort Clatsop, the domicile of the Lewis and Clark Expedition during the winter of 1805-1806. We easily assume the National Park Service must have created the fort. On the contrary, it was conceived and built by local people before the NPS came into the picture.
Fort Clatsop was built by a group of young leaders who belonged to a group that no longer exists, the Astoria Jaycees. For experience with log structures, the Jaycees tapped the Finnish Brotherhood.
The remarkable thing is that the fort replica was built prior to congressional action creating the Fort Clatsop National Memorial, which came in 1958.
The National Park Service presence brought enormous value and cachet to our region. In a similar vein, creation of the Shively-McClure Historic District does the same for Astoria. Both of these developments recognize that we live in a singular place.
That is no small quality in a nation whose communities increasingly look alike.
We are not at all surprised by what the opinion researcher said last week. On a national level, we see a spiritual hunger that is too often fed by groups whose aims are political, not religious.
The need for community cannot be satisfied by national leaders or groups. By definition, the solution is local. We in Clatsop County are fortunate that this is such a real place, relatively unspoiled by the anonymity one finds in so many other parts of Oregon and America.
We must nurture our links with the past. They are our key to meaning, and they are also the key to our economic future.