Women of Land Use: the founders and early years
March is Women’s History Month. Women have made powerful impacts throughout history, and often their stories go untold. This is why we are taking the time to highlight a few Oregonian women who have made indelible marks on the state’s land use history and future. Today, we profile a few of those outstanding individuals in celebration of Women’s History Month. And, because we shouldn’t just leave women’s history (or any other group’s history) to one month out of the year, we will periodically provide a profile of someone in Oregon’s land use history whose story may not have been widely shared.
Senate Bill 100, Oregon’s landmark legislation establishing our land use planning system, was passed in 1973. Since that time, it has been a model nationally and internationally for how communities can work on land use issues. The hard work of putting this law together, and the follow-through to ensure the law’s longevity, had to be forged by a large coalition of conservation and community-minded leaders. Two key Legislators who fought to make this possible were Nancie Peacocke Fadeley and Norma Paulus. Both freshmen in the House in 1971[i], these two went straight to work on behalf of Oregon and Oregonians.
In her first years in office serving as a House Representative for portions of Springfield and Eugene, Rep. Peacocke Fadeley chaired the House Environment and Land Use Committee. Her committee was responsible for moving SB 100 forward. With Nancie’s leadership SB 100 was shepherded through to its final destination on the house floor[ii]. Her advocacy for SB 100 was critical for its passage. She would later join the 1000 Friends of Oregon board of directors.
During her tenure, Nancie Peacocke Fadeley focused on environmental issues beyond SB 100, including the iconic Bottle Bill, field burning, energy issues, and an aerosol ban. Notably, she also focused heavily on supporting other Oregon women, including spearheading a bill that established displaced homemaker programs in Oregon. The goal of these programs was to help widowed or divorced women develop skills to enter the workforce[iii].
Peacocke Fadeley earned her MA in Journalism from the University of Oregon, and still writes about Oregon history and environmental issues for publications in the Eugene area.
On the other side of the political aisle, Republican Norma Paulus stepped into the hard work of crafting and passing SB 100. Prior to the legislation, Paulus served on the Marion-Polk Boundary Commission, where she was tasked with the state’s first real coordinated land use vision – finding a strategy to control “leapfrog subdivision development in the greater Salem region.”[iv] With that leadership work under her belt, and upon her election into the Legislature, Rep. Paulus worked closely with others including Nancie Peacocke Fadeley to pass SB 100. Speaking at a 1000 Friends of Oregon McCall Speaker Series event she recalls that time. “We worked together…It was long and hard, but very rewarding.” Her knowledge was relied on throughout the process of the bills, creation, as Janet McLennan recalls, “Norma well-identified with the farmers’ point of view.”[v]
Beyond her work in Land Use, Norma Paulus devoted time to supporting Oregon women. She founded the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus, helped pass an Equal Rights Amendment for Oregon, and was the first woman to hold a statewide elected office, when she served as Secretary of State and instituted our vote-by-mail system[vi].
While Norma and Nancie served in office during the passage of SB 100, Janet McLennan served as Staff Counsel to the House Environment Committee in the Oregon Legislature, then as Staff Director
and Counsel of the Joint Interim Committee on Natural Resources[vii]. Janet says that committee was not as influential with SB 100, it “had more influence on SB 101, the companion bill related to farming.” However, she also credits the committee for crafting the forestry goal, Goal 4, during that time.[viii] Janet committed herself to the long-range vision of Oregon’s land use planning when she joined the board of directors to support the fledgling 1000 Friends of Oregon in 1979[ix].
Her history of fighting for natural resources really took shape in the mid-1960’s when she served as Executive Director of the Committee to Save the Beaches. Her work galvanized public and political support for the Oregon Beach Bill, which passed in 1967[x]. This launched her into law, connected her to statewide political leadership, and ultimately led her to serve in the Legislature as Counsel.
Janet’s work on natural resources would take her from the Counsel in the Legislature, to the Governors Administration as a Natural Resources Assistant, to the Bonneville Power Administration and numerous high-level posts, and to the Chair of the Board of Forestry in her ‘retirement’[xi].
The remarkable contributions of women to Oregon’s state history should not be overlooked. Without these three outstanding women, Oregon’s land use system may have looked a lot different, its success perhaps less sure, its longevity uncertain. Beyond our land use system, our state may not be what it is. From forestland conservation to women’s rights to voter access, Nancie Peacocke Fadeley, Norma Paulus, and Jannet McLennan have shaped Oregon in lasting ways.
[i] Oregon Legislators and Staff Guide: 1971 Regular Session (56th). Oregon State Archives. Retrieved March 2017
[iv] Beebe, Craig, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Daring Mighty Things: Recapping an Evening With Three Land Use Legends, 2013
[v] People and the Land: an Oral History of Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Program. Interview with Janet McLennan by Kevin Pozzi, Portland State University, June 2015. Retrieved March 2017.
[viii] People and the Land: an Oral History of Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Program. Interview with Janet McLennan by Kevin Pozzi, Portland State University, June 2015. Retrieved March 2017.