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Bold Strokes Don’t Always Pencil Out

December 5th, 2006 by dk

When planning your legacy, consider indelibility. Whatever “pencils out” can also be erased. Bold strokes endure. Ed King and Brian Obie offer profiles in courage.

Ask Ed King who inspired him to build King Estate Winery and he gives you a list of thinkers: Henry David Thoreau, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan. He also credits his father for adventure and his grandfather for integrity. King’s vision for Oregon wine includes food, which revives farming, and eventually reconnects people with a keen sense of place.

“I can open a bottle of 2002 Pinot Gris, and I can relive the sun and the rain and the soil of this place at that time. Vitners call it terroir — the distinctive microclimate shows up in that bottle. We have terroir.” This sense of place animates him and shapes his business plan, but also his long-term vision for Lane County. “The assumption that people want the lowest cost in food is just wrong. People want taste. They want connections to the earth and to one another.”

Ed King brings a wild-eyed idealism that befits his UO MBA and a work ethic from his Midwest roots, but Brian Obie is a consummate insider. He knows our city the way only a former mayor can. He’s watched downtown develop around the 5th Street Public Market for 25 years. He sees responsibility and opportunity. “We’re an estuary for local business people,” muses Obie. “My children and I see ourselves as stewards of a community icon.”

Since he sold his transit advertising company, the market has gotten Obie’s undivided attention and it shows. Changes have not been universally applauded, but bold moves seldom are. Will the 2006 investments pay for themselves in 2007? Not likely, but that was never the point. Gathering Eugene’s “best and brightest” local retailers was the point, to balance the Korth-McKay family’s retail gem on the other side of Eugene’s busiest bridge.

It’s not a bridge to nowhere. It’s onward to the future, marked by some bold strokes that will not soon be erased or forgotten.

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