Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunday Serenity #48

This YouTube is of an Easter Egg hunt at the Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon about ten miles south of here. Lithia is my favorite park in the entire Rogue Valley. I used to hang out there to do my homework or class reading when I was going to then Southern Oregon State College (now known as Southern Oregon University) in the late eighties.

The video was shot and posted by the Ashland Daily Tidings, Ashland's Newspaper. I just discovered there are nearly 200 more videos posted by the Tidings so I'm going to be exploring them for potential posting in the future, looking for things that show off the local color.

I love Ashland and would like to live there but it is currently way out of our price range. But you know what? I'm going to stop being ashamed of claiming my love for it and my desire to spend more time there.

That might sound strange if you don't know this area but there is a lot of tension between the 'artsy,' 'tree hugger,' 'elitist egg heads,' and the 'working class,' 'Jefferson Stater,' 'red neck,' 'Libertarian,' 'Patriots,' among these valley communities whose economies were once dependent on mining, agriculture and timber and have been suffering the throes for the past thirty or so years of a transition to a tourist, retirement (read out of state millionaires), and high-tech dependent economies; similar in some respects to what happened to the Silicon Valley in the last thirty years of the 20th century.

Note that I put all the labels in quotes to indicate that for the most part they are the pejoratives each side uses against the other. I don't hold with stereotyping and labels lend themselves to that kind of thoughtless empathy-blocking relating that is as unattractive in the one as the other. It is probably evident from a casual perusal of Joystory that my sympathies lean toward the 'artsy' and the 'tree-hugger' and the 'egg head.' But I spend more time among those with the 'working class' and the 'red neck' sympathies and I know them to be good people with hearts of gold and no more deserving of the disdain directed at them then are those to whom they direct their disdain. I just wish they could all see each other past the labels the way I do and could come together to solve their community problems in a win-win way.

Not least (but not only) because these tensions were a direct cause of the inability to create a long term solution for our local library funding. Players on both sides made in-your-face power plays that aimed at win-lose solutions that showed no respect for the dignity or the legitimate anxieties of the 'other side.' The solution that opened the doors of the 15 library branches after seven months of closure is temporary, covering only two to three years and some consider it 'union busting.' So the joy of having the libraries back is a bit dampened by the sorrow of seeing so many of my favorite people (read librarians) loose so much (read jobs, benefits, income) and the anxiety of watching this whole drama play out again in two years.

OK. This post kinda went off track. But I'm going to let it stand and swing it back to topic in closing. To restate my intent: I'm going start practicing a sense of serenity about owning my love of Ashland and all it symbolizes for me in spite of the fact that I interact daily with those for whom 'Ashland' is an expletive because of what it symbolizes for them.

2 tell me a story:

Ann 3/23/2008 8:17 AM  

Happy Easter, Joy!
Interesting post, I understand what you mean: I've lived in a variety of places with large tourist economies (still do for that matter), and the locals have a decidedly mixed feeling about tourists and tourism (entirely understandable having witnessed many tourists behaving at their absolute worst because "they're on vacation" forgetting that others actually live there).

Unknown 3/23/2008 10:26 AM  

Kewl post. Ashland is a dream place to live. Maybe one of these days.

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