dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

Can Kristof Disrupt Oregon for the Better?

January 14th, 2022 by dk

Nick Kristof encountered disruption often in his globetrotting career. But can he create a favorable disruption from the status quo for Oregon as its next governor? Our meeting at a nearby coffee shop began with disruption — staffing shortages shuttered its doors. Instead we enjoyed a break from our welcome rains, sat outside and took a short walk.

I didn’t ask him about the residency controversy that has dogged him this week. Only one of us had anything new to say on the subject, and I wasn’t the one being interviewed. Suffice to say, he’s not deterred by this disruption. He will continue campaigning until his lawyers or a judge tell him he must stop.

“Tell me,” he said, resisting the urge to pull the reporter’s notebook from his back pocket, “what are people in Eugene talking most about these days?” I appreciate that he is using his campaign to learn about our concerns and priorities. Too many campaigns rely on pollsters for that.

He deserved an honest answer: “How would I know? How would anyone know? What does that even mean in this pandemic age?” If we bump into somebody at the grocery store, will we even recognize them with a mask from more than six feet away? Our isolation-ward life is a circumstance that hasn’t yet become a consequence. But it will.

If anything, he leaned into the situation at hand. Voters seem open to — maybe even hungry for — an unconventional candidate who approaches our problems with fresh eyes. Journalism trained Tom McCall quite well. Those are great footsteps to follow.

“Journalism essentially promotes accountability,” he told me. And then he did take out that notebook from his pocket. “We keep track of things. We tabulate results. We ask around. We circle back.” (Those weren’t his exact words. My notebook was still in my pocket.) Kristof described accountability that focuses less on organizational hierarchy and more on end users. Fresh eyes!

Kristof was one of the first to notice hopelessness in our rural areas. He wrote a book about it in 2019, from his farmhouse in rural Yamhill, Oregon. He thinks green energy production could revitalize eastern Oregon. If our wide-open spaces can once again produce what our population centers need, we’ll rebuild the American Dream right here.

Turning our focus back, he asked how Eugene is coping with its unhoused population. I pointed two blocks south and asked if he’d like to take a walk. “Sure,” he said. “Stretching my legs sounds really good.” We walked over to Nightingale Hosted Shelters to tour a tool invented in Eugene. Nobody’s favorite part of Show and Tell was ever Tell.

He marveled at the simplicity of the Conestoga Huts — no special tools, materials, or skills required. With a few hundred dollars and a couple of days’ effort, anyone can be lifted off the ground, protected from elements above, tucked safely behind a locked door.

We didn’t say a word about it, but we were taking in what pollsters miss. Oregon is a place where simple solutions can disrupt conventional wisdom.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at Read Kahle’s view on resolving Kristof’s residency status at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.