Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Gun Control

Colleen Padilla, 10/14/21

Simple, attention-grabbing title for this week’s writing. And it’s packing a big punch, just not likely what you think. Especially from this neutral, non-political agency. SOREDI is not tasked with political lobbying of sorts. Rest assured; no shots will be taken.

I have commented to a few staff members in the last week or so, however, that I want to be a rifle. They looked at me oddly, which is not unusual. I often do have that “deer in the headlights” look which either means I am truly burning the candle at both ends, I am craving a donut (Holy Donut, yes, Puck’s does plan to rebuild in Phoenix!), or I have a great notion for a blog. If the latter, all staff members must be enlightened. Or take cover?

Nope. I am not a hunter on the hunt for a rifle even though it is hunting season. I do have a few fond memories however with Dad, shooting pistols at squirrels in the Eastern Oregon desert some 50 years or so ago. A much fonder memory of course, is how he shot a rattlesnake that I nearly stepped on. Thank you, Dad!

So what is it that I find so attractive about a rifle, aside from its long sleek barrel and shiny bullets? Its laser focus.

We have been heads down with pens and notepads, talking to jurisdictions, foundations, and various other key partners about our beloved Greenway, in largely what I’d call a shotgun approach. We needed to learn as much as possible about prospective projects – from fuels reduction to restoration to safety to footbridges to the next one-mile section. What should that be?

Why? Thanks for asking! We want to be laser focused on assuring that all that we do aligns with our One Rogue Valley Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

As mentioned in other writings we have opportunity to pursue significant grant funding through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) that could greatly impact our entire region. Respective to enhanced recreational trails and tourism, business development, and quality-of life, we can collectively make progress in three or more initiatives within our CEDS.

The Bear Creek Greenway and Rogue River Greenway has long been envisioned to be a marvelous recreational asset for our entire region, eventually becoming a 55-mile plus continuous connector between Ashland and Grants Pass. We are about 30 miles there with existing paths. We are doing our research – in partnership with our public and private sector agencies (3.1) – to identify the gaps, avoid project duplication, and pursue funding solutions.

The entire Greenway is also a critical component for walkable and bikeable corridors in Transit Oriented Developments (TOD). This is also noted in our One Rogue Valley Strategy (5.1.2) within our placemaking initiative. Placemaking is all about nurturing an environment that preserves Southern Oregon’s quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors.

And the water corridors for which the Greenway mostly follows are fundamental components of our Rogue Valley namesake and multi-faceted branding and identity considerations (1.4). It is a unifying geographical connector directly touching 10 of the 15 jurisdictions within Southern Oregon.

Moreover, it is a critical linkage between economic development and tourism (4.2). The Greenway is a natural opportunity that we can leverage to grow the region’s outdoor trail networks, connect to sporting venues (4.4), engage users in our vast array of arts and cultural amenities just a short hop off the trail (4.3), and intrigue stopovers for lunch and shopping in our developing downtowns (5.2).

As you might surmise, this writing is not so much about gun control at all. I already have a rifle, safely tucked away in a gun cabinet along with oodles of shiny bullets, all retrieved from the back of the seat in my F150. Thank you, Dad!

SOREDI just wants to be like a rifle and be laser-focused on tactics to move our beautiful region, with so much economic and recreational promise, forward – particularly after devastating loss due to wildfire. The shotgun approach had its value too, but now it’s time to align our sights for a competitive application for funding, due in January.

Focus on our Greenway is just one big-picture regional project we are considering. If awarded, the grant funding would be a multi-year effort and begin in October 2022. There are still numerous conversations to have and focused meetings to hold.

We invite your input by direct email or a call – we’d love to know how you use the Greenway and what is most important to you. In the meantime, I challenge you to take your shot – get out for a long stroll on the Greenway and envision with us the immense value proposition it has for all Southern Oregon.

 

Happy trails!

Colleen Padilla, Executive Director colleen@soredi.org   , (541) 773-8946

 

One Rogue Valley Strategy References

1.4.1. Create a favorable brand and image for the region and launch an internal marketing campaign. Ensure all residents, members, and partners talk about the Rogue Valley in a consistent, positive way.

3.1. Strengthen partnerships between the region’s public sector and private sector, including economic development organizations, workforce development entities, and educational institutions, to ensure alignment of employer needs and training programs.

4.2. Deepen partnerships among economic development and tourism.

4.3. Leverage the region’s thriving arts and culture industry to promote the region’s amenities outside the Rogue Valley and also within the region.

4.4. Grow the region’s outdoor recreation and organized sporting industries

5.1.2. Advocate for transit-oriented development (TOD) and increased density in urban areas. TOD is a form of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail, and other amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood concentrated within a half mile of quality public transportation.

5.2. Support city-specific quality-of-place initiatives that contribute to the unique identity of Southern Oregon’s communities and encourage the development of vibrant downtowns.

© 1987-2021 SOREDI 1311 East Barnett Road, Suite 301, Medford 97504 • Phone: (541) 773-8946 • Fax: (541) 779-0953