Improve downtown with car-free days
I would like to propose car-free Saturdays and Sundays in downtown Ashland. During the entire year, East Main Street would be closed from Water Street to Gresham Street. This would allow for street vendors to set up shop and would also give local stores the opportunity to put out tables and street sales. With all of the increased market activity, local street performers would be attracted and in a matter of months Ashland would become even more of a local tourist and cultural hub.
I have seen on many occasions when Main St. is closed for holidays and parades how happy and carefree people can be. When you don't have to constantly look over your shoulder for weaving traffic and you never have to crowd on the sidewalks people become much more lighthearted.
The removal of cars during weekends from our downtown area would help to raise our local quality of life and make Ashland a more attractive and desirable place to be.
Pastime calls for city policy revision
As the days lengthen and spring rolls around the corner, an Ashland sub-culture begins to emerge. Slacklining is a favorite pastime for many Ashland youth. It involves a flat "line" that is suspended off the ground, similar to tightrope walking, except it is springy and slack. Many people have at one time or another seen Ashland's active youth balancing precariously on a line, tied between two trees.
Slacklining is a healthy medium for getting together and hanging out.
The one problem is that slacklining has gotten a bad rep because of potential tree damage. To hold a person, these lines are tightened and thus potentially could damage tree bark. Ordinance 10.68.110, which prohibits damage to structures and trees, does not take into account the precautions that many enthusiasts take, and can take, such as wrapping a tree in pads or clothing before setting up the line.
Most enthusiasts are aware of what effect they are having on the trees. By choosing healthy, thick-barked, large-diameter trees, damage is mitigated. I thoroughly enjoy this sport and do not wish to be running afoul of Ashland law. I propose a revision to this ordinance to allow slacklining in designated areas, on certain trees and/or with tree protection. Or city parks could be set up with concrete posts to allow slacklining without trees. Please join me in urging the Parks Commission and City Council to revise the ordinance.
Ashland High School student
City should change its bank contract
For those feeling helpless about the ineffective responses to the financial crisis, there may be an opportunity to "act locally" to address the global power and arrogance of the finance industry.
The city of Ashland is in the process of renewing its contract with Bank of America, which has served for seven years as the city's banker, or finding another bank.
There is a nationwide movement to move our money into locally owned banks and credit unions —to buck the trend toward financial conglomerates and their arrogant disregard for Main Street. Bank of America is one of the giants, having absorbed its share of local and regional banks. These banks that are "too big to fail" now escape accountability — as we have seen with unaccounted for bailout money and risky investments.
Megacorporations don't deserve our trust, and trying to regulate them when they "own" the institutions that make the regulations is a losing battle. (Look up the recent Dick Durban quote, "big banks own the place," meaning Congress, and one could include the Supreme Court.)
Can we here in Ashland make a positive, community-oriented, highly symbolic move? Will our city government hire a locally owned bank or credit union? This would be one significant step toward localizing our financial power. It would also keep banking fees and profits here in our community.
Louie Urban Kohler
Community activism was inspiring story
I was thrilled to read the article published Jan. 23, 2010, concerning the Haiti relief concert that was put on by our community. It gives me immense hope to know that we can all join together to support those in need, even when our own lives are not jeopardized. At times I doubt our abilities to look beyond our own lives and take others' into consideration, unless we are immediately affected, but this proved me wrong.
Our freedom and power in this world comes with the responsibility to hold ourselves accountable to make the changes that we see needed in the world. This benefit was a perfect example of how we can use our privileged lives to help others — by simply bringing in artists in our town and entertainment for our community, we can help to create futures for others whose dreams have never had a chance to grow.
Thank you for spreading the awareness that we as a community can make a difference when the world calls for it. I am in full support of this activism.
Letters to the Editor
Improve downtown with car-free days