Last week I hiked the hill. My first time ever walking the marble halls of buildings packed with our elected officials who will decide our future. The state flags line the halls – guiding us to our representatives.

I’m an Oregonian – born and raised in Portland. Always will be. I know that Portlanders are bred to dislike the state to the South – especially the deep south – Los Angeles. Portlanders are granola-eating-Birkenstock-wearing-tree-hugging-bicycle-rights-protecting-recycling-liberals.  Just watch Portlandia on the IFC network. It is spot on.

A recent transplant  to New Mexico I can say that they are rightfully proud of their heritage, their art, the balloon festival and of course…the green chile. There is NEW Mexican food and there’s Mexican food. Don’t ever confuse the two. The street Juan Tabo, is pronounced Whan TU-boh. I’m not supposed to love the Rail Runner (yet) and we are bustin’ proud of the film industry we’ve built and are pretty passionate about protecting it at this point. New Mexico’s motto: The Land of Enchantment.  The state that doesn’t HAVE to say “Don’t Mess with Us.” But instead lives it by appointing the Road Runner the state bird and a cactus as the state flower. The Road Runner, in addition to successfully eluding Wylee Coyote for decades also can kill a rattle snake. We’re just sayin’…..

This is why, in my opinion, state leagues work. Affinity. The same reason credit unions worked. A common bond. An intimate knowledge of the issues and nuances and cultural differences and the secret language of a state.

There were 17 of us from the great state of New Mexico hiking the hill last week.

Walking the long hall we passed the Senate offices of Kansas, California, Wyoming. As you read those states certain images pop into your head. That’s called branding. And it’s not fabricated by an ad agency, it’s been developing over hundreds of years through the natives and immigrants and sports teams and universities and farmers.

Speaking of the universities – states, like colleges have alumni. The people that were born and raised in the territory. Even when they leave – they will always be alums.

This is why the state league system has worked so well. This is why Edward Filene and Roy Bergengren traveled extensively during the 1920′s forming state leagues through the Credit Union National Extension Bureau. The term “league” was employed to denote a mutually supportive organization for the promotion and success of credit unions.

The state leagues each created a corporate credit union – the credit union for credit unions. But the corporate system just moved our money. Consolidation in that industry made sense and of course, as we know today, is mandated due to circumstances that I promise  never to address in this blog. We’ve flogged that horse ad nauseum.

I worked for the Oregon CU League many years ago. It allowed me to travel all over my home state. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to small towns  like LaGrande and Coos Bay and Klamath Falls. If it were not for the league, it’s likely I never would’ve discovered all that is beautiful in Oregon and met some amazing people.

Same goes for New Mexico. I’ve been to Silver City – where I found the most amazing wine bar. And had the Bobby Flay Throw Down winning green chile cheeseburger in San Antonio, New Mexico. I’ve seen Hatch – home of the world famous green chile. And of course the aliens in Roswell.

I hope we never forget these tiny pockets of our world. Where hard working dedicated souls continue to honor Filene’s vision of people helping people.

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