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Capture the Calm Before the Craziness Comes

July 13th, 2022 by dk

I’ve hosted and organized a few large events in my years, and there’s always a short lull just before the activities begin. All the planning has been done. Last-minute problems have been solved or delegated. It’s too late to change and too early to regret. What can be done has been done. And then, there’s a tiny empty space.

It lasts only a moment. It can easily be overlooked, but it’s always there.

Soon, the dam will burst and moments will flow — all those scripted, planned, managed, orchestrated moments. They will pass quickly, though some will feel like they linger forever. They may resemble what you envisioned, or they may not. They may be better than you had hoped for, or worse. But they are coming now. It’s out of your hands.

But first, there’s stillness. This moment may prove more important than all those moments to follow. Inside that moment, ask yourself, “What do you want?” After months or years of wrangling the who, when, where, and what for every detail, there’s a small space to ask, “Why?” What could be different after this is all over?

I had a girlfriend who listened as I assembled and agonized over every detail for an event I staged downtown 15 years ago. Three camera crews were setting up. Local luminaries were stopping by. Dozens of volunteers were attending to last-minute details. She led me to a quiet spot under a stairwell and asked, “How was your day?” I never loved her more than at that moment.

My experience is only loosely relevant to our run-up to the World Athletic Championships for two reasons. First, it’s not really one sprawling event. It’s more like a dozen efforts, intertwined. Second, there is no single person who can answer the “Why?” question. That’s for each of us and for all of us to answer.

How do we hope Eugene and Lane County and Oregon will be different after Oregon22 concludes?

I’ll offer you my answer, but I wonder about yours. When we look back on this moment, years from now, what surprising consequence might emerge?

I hope our median earned wage will no longer be below average.

Last time I saw it tabulated, Oregon’s median wage was about 10 percent below the national average, and Lane County’s was about 10 percent below Oregon’s average. This makes everything a struggle all the time. That could all change in less time than you’d imagine.

Two thousand people attending the WAC could decide they’d rather not leave, bringing their company or their remote-work to our region. Two thousand local Boomers could decide it’s time to retire, leaving room at the top for promoting young talent. And hundreds of business owners could respond to the world’s love for this place with new confidence, giving raises to their best employees.

Eugene could very soon become a destination, even without an event or local ties to bring people here. We could become different, all at once. How we reflect on it now can determine what all the coming hubbub leaves behind.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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