Along I-5 sits a small Southern Oregon city that deserves recognition. Named after a Connecticut Insurance Company in the 1850s, this city now has roughly 4,600 residents. If you think I’m talking about Phoenix, Oregon…you are correct! The city of Phoenix may not be as busy as some cities, but it maintains small-town community spirit—as evidenced through its ‘Little Library’ program, the construction of the new civic center, a host of summer events, and even a homecoming parade.
Along with the city of Talent, and several other neighborhoods around Southern Oregon, Phoenix plays a part in Little Free Libraries, a nationally recognized non-profit organization created to “enhance literacy, promote the joy of reading, and build a sense of community.” This is why you might see small mail-box-like houses lining the streets and neighborhoods of the city. “I stop to look in them [the little libraries], two or three times a week,” says city manager, Aaron Prunty. “Sometimes they’ve got really good classics.” Locals can borrow and exchange books from these houses, which are all decorated uniquely. Not only was the Little Free Libraries’ intention to encourage reading, but to add fun and creative décor to the city streets.
In addition to building community atmosphere, Phoenix recently finished building a building for the community. The summer of 2018 marked the grand opening of a nearly six-year project: the Phoenix Plaza Civic Center. With help from the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency, the City of Phoenix, and numerous local residents, the Civic Center is now open for community events, meetings, receptions, luncheons, and celebrations. Directly behind the Phoenix Plaza, the natural wetland area “offers opportunities for passive recreation and the protection of the community’s natural environment,” as is stated on the website. Even the Civic Center’s parking lot is made from pervious stone so as to limit negative impacts of urban water runoff.
As far as events go, Phoenix has several. According to the ancient Greeks and Romans, the ‘dog days of summer’ are more connected to the rise of the star system Sirius, than they are to the temperatures of the hot days stretching between July and August. However, since the Dog Star rises about the same time as Southern Oregonians start panting like dogs, holding a ‘Dog Days of Summer’ event works out. Each year, at Colver Park, the community of Phoenix puts on an informal dog show, complete with obstacle courses and prizes. Pet owners (and spectators), are invited to walk around the park with their animals, then go through games and activities that promote fun and community interaction for everyone who would otherwise be sitting at home trying to beat the dog days. In addition to events at Colver Park, the Blue Heron Park across town puts on outdoor music nights periodically throughout the summer, making use of the park’s band shell and the convenient Greenway access.
As the heat dies down and fall begins, Phoenix also hosts a homecoming parade for the high schoolers. The city’s main street closes down for an afternoon and locals cheer on the Pirates—as well as the other community organizations involved in the parade.
So, if you’re looking to visit a city with plenty of heart (conveniently located next to the interstate), Phoenix might just be the place for you. And next time you hear the word ‘Phoenix’… hopefully your first thought will be of a small Southern Oregon city—not Arizona or a 1850s’ Connecticut insurance company.
Thanks to the newest addition to our SOREDI team, our SOU intern, Abigail Skelton, we will continue to feature some of the popular attractions located in our Southern Oregon communities. We consider each one of our towns and cities to be “jewels in the crown” that makes up Southern Oregon. If you have a story idea sparked by an inspiring local attraction, please e-mail our Communications Manager, Codi Spodnik and maybe Abigail will be giving you a call to follow up. If you are a SOREDI Member and you have some great news, please e-mail it to Codi so we can share it in our newsletter.
Little Free Libraries (2019). Website: https://lfltalentphoenix.weebly.com/our-project.html
Phoenix Civic Center (2019). Website: https://www.phoenixciviccenter.org/about-us