Residents voice their opinions on vision for Ashland's future

Members of a movement to prepare Ashland for oil shortages and climate change have a similar vision for the town's future as that drafted by the City Council.

But members of Transition Town Ashland think several more elements would make the Ashland of the future even more ideal.

Back in April, City Councilors, Mayor John Stromberg and city staff met on a Saturday to hash out a list of concrete council goals that can be accomplished within two years, a draft values statement and a draft vision statement for what the town should look like in 30 years.

Councilors and the mayor are now fanning out to meet with groups around town to get input.

On Thursday night, Transition Town Ashland members and other interested residents met at the Ashland Public Library to share their ideas with Stromberg and Councilors Carol Voisin and Kate Jackson.

Although Transition Town Ashland has yet to prepare a group response to the council's vision, member Pam Vavra said individual members listed the same things as councilors, with some additions.

"I was very grateful how many of these things in the council vision were right in sync with what we want to do," she said.

Transition Town participants' additions included a desire for Ashland to cut its carbon dioxide emissions significantly, adopt a local currency to supplement regular money and use Triple Bottom Line accounting. That form of accounting considers not only profits and the economy, but impacts on people and the environment.

In an ideal future Ashland, police officers would live in town, the city would produce as much energy as it consumes or even produce more, and plastic bottles and bags would not be used, according to Transition Town participants.

Local resident Ken Deveney said, in an ideal future, Ashland would be prepared to deal with major emergencies, including deadly epidemics that could wipe out part of the population.

Emergency preparedness was not part of the council's vision of the future, but the council did show its commitment to preparedness by raising property taxes to avoid laying off Ashland Fire & Rescue's Community Emergency Response Team Coordinator this year. The coordinator has arranged training for hundreds of residents who have learned how to take care of themselves and others during emergencies, as well as how to help emergency workers.

Resident Greg Marchese said he's uncertain about the peak oil theory — which states that world petroleum extraction will peak and then available supplies will drop off, perhaps dramatically — and the sources of climate change.

"But I do support a local economy. I'm not concerned about apocalyptic scenarios. I want Ashland to be more neighborly and for there to be a sense of caring for each other," Marchese said, recalling earlier times in America when neighbors, relatives and friends lived in tight-knit neighborhoods.

The council also envisions a future of caring neighborhoods.

Councilors want a future where community gardens dot parks — a view shared by resident Cindy Ceteras.

She would like to see kids learn skills in school about how to be more self-sufficient. Ceteras said every student should know how to plant a garden.

The council's draft vision statement also emphasizes walking and biking, diverse housing, healthy salmon runs, use of solar panels, drought-tolerant plants, a strong transit system, reuse of stormwater and sewage effluent, a lively downtown, visitors returning year after year, family wage jobs and healthy forests.

Councilor Carol Voisin said she appreciated the feedback from the Transition Town members and other residents. She encouraged everyone to fill out a questionnaire about the council's vision for the future, values statement and goals.

"I want you to really hold our feet to the fire. There are several values here that we missed," she said.

Information and a questionnaire about the council's vision, values and goals is at

The council will take public comment through September, review the input and adopt final Values and Vision Statements in November.

The council will review the feedback on goals in January, prior to beginning the budgeting process for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

The goals and draft Vision and Values Statements are posted on the city's Web site at

Members of the public can submit their comments on-line or print out forms from the Web site and drop them off or mail them to Ann Seltzer, Ashland City Hall, 20 E. Main St., Ashland, OR 97520.

For more information about Transition Town, visit

Members host an introduction to the worldwide Transition Town movement and what's going on locally every first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Peace House, 543 S. Mountain Ave.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or

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