There's plenty to legitimately gripe about concerning the Sochi winter Olympics, and griping we have done, and not without good reason. It's a shame that the negatives are threatening to overshadow many people's hard work, and however mad I am (and I am) about homophobic policies and dog murderers, these Olympics are a special point of pride for Oregon.
I'm speaking, of course, of the contribution made by Oregon's Imperial Stock Ranch, whose wool was used to supply the Ralph Lauren-designed opening ceremony parade sweaters. Yes, a lot of people got a good laugh, but regardless of their design aesthetic, their significance is immense.
I just got off the phone with Imperial's Jeanne Carver. She's in the middle of lambing season. Trooping through the snow as her sheep give birth, protecting them from the cold and, as she put it to me, "saving little lives," she took a break this morning to check her email, and found a message from Ralph Lauren's head designer. Inside was a photo taken by one of the company's teammates currently in Russia, of the US team leaving the Olympic village en route to the opening ceremony.
Carver choked up as she explained to me how honored and in awe she felt to be connected to this huge global event happening on the other side of the world. "What an amazing thing for me to be out here by myself in the desert, just fighting our daily battles, and to be seeing that." Carver has nothing but admiration for Ralph Lauren's commitment to and success in making every aspect of these uniforms originate from within the US, and says she knows that for every one of the many, many Americans' work that went into it, that their families and communities can now claim a connection to our Olympic team, "Right down to me talking to you."