SALEM, Ore. - Four Oregon universities will sponsor a conference in Salem on Nov. 14 that aims to strengthen links between the state's rural and urban areas.

"Oregon is an incredibly diverse collection of landscapes, economies and communities," said Beth Emshoff, metro specialist for the Oregon State University Extension Service and the lead organizer of the conference. "No matter where we live - in an urban, suburban or rural environment - all Oregonians share common needs and aspirations for a sustainable future. Yet myths and local perspectives can keep us from acknowledging and understanding the interdependence of all of the regions."

"Those gathered will set an agenda of discovery toward one Oregon by exploring what connects the entire state and what, strategically, are the ways that these connections can be strengthened for the benefit of the state," she added.

In addition to OSU, the other sponsors are Portland State University, the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University.

The conference, "Toward One Oregon: Rural-Urban Interdependence," will explore historical and demographic realities; opportunities for cooperation in governance and economic connections; differences between urban and rural parts of the state; how policy can be used to bridge differences; and definitions of urban and rural Oregon. It is targeted to an audience of researchers, policymakers, journalists and community leaders but the public is also invited.

OSU President Ed Ray, PSU President Wim Wiewel and Russell S. Tomlin Sr., a vice provost at UO, will open the conference, with each speaking about their university's role in supporting rural and urban communities and issues. Five panels will follow with significant audience participation in each session. Peter Courtney, the president of Oregon's Senate, will speak during lunch. In the last panel, editors from The Oregonian, The (Bend) Bulletin and The Daily Astorian will give their thoughts on the day's discussions.

The conference will be held at the Salem Conference Center. The registration fee is $75 and can be paid via the conference's Web site. More details about the panelists and the day's schedule are at

Papers elaborating on the panelists' presentations will later be included in a book published by OSU Press.

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Beth Emshoff,