Notes from Colleen’s Desk: Stuck in the Mud

Ever been stuck in the mud? I have, probably more than once. But most notably when I was 18 and out four-wheeling with my then boyfriend (and later husband of 24 years) in what was purportedly a dry lakebed.

It was not dry after all, otherwise we would not have become stuck, right? I do not recall exactly how we got unstuck but I do know the experience was filled to the brim with pontification, blaming, and messy tennis shoes.

Being stuck in any situation is a bit unsettling, particularly when there is nothing you can really do to readily impact or change the immediate outcome. You fuss and complain, cast blame, and look disheveled in the process. You may come to a standstill.

For example, I am still awaiting Belle, my new Bronco Sport, which I ordered on February 20. Thanks to the fact that we cannot get products like computer chips, can’t find production workers, and are experiencing how the entire supply chain and distribution network is bottlenecked, I wait. I wait rather impatiently in my dirty sneakers and blame the pandemic.

We feel a little stuck right now at SOREDI, too, which is not uncommon for these last two weeks of August when it seems nearly everyone decides to cram in that last good vacation. It is hard to move forward when partners are unavailable for meetings or are the primary contacts for key information required as part of project proposals that were due yesterday.

But add to this story line the additional recent constraints of smoke-filled valleys, a virus on the loose, mud-slinging politics on just about every issue known to man, and the fact that every industry is struggling to fill positions and is understaffed (including SOREDI), we are stuck in a considerably messy mud bog without immediate solutions in sight.

Earlier this year on my road trip to Eastern Oregon, I camped at Mud Creek (pictured) just outside Lakeview. As is my normal routine I read devotionals based on Scripture each morning, journal my thoughts related to those readings, and then often create my “10-step do more and try harder” master plan to force the outcome I want for my usually self-inflicted personal washouts.

On this occasion though, the first reading offered a much different take on how one might choose to respond to what seems like an impossible situation, that stuck in the mud moment when there appears to be no good outcome ahead or hope for a rescue.


The reading found in the book of Judges, chapter 7, was the accounting of Gideon and how his army defeated the Midianites. Gideon had a lot of self-doubt about his leadership skills. He didn’t feel much like a warrior, and he felt the enormous task at hand was an impossibility.

Then as the story goes, God reduced his army of men from 32,000 to just 300. That is a serious workforce reduction! And Gideon fully knew that the enemy’s army was as “numerous as locusts” with provisions as “numerous as the sand on the seashore.” Reasonably, Gideon had a lot to fear.

Later in Judges 7:21, after Gideon followed God’s instructions, we learn that “Each man stood at his position around the camp and watched as all the Midianites rushed around in a panic, shouting as they ran to escape.” Aside from blowing their horns and holding their torches, Gideon’s arm simply stood.  And on that day, they defeated the enemy.

Although it’s relatively quiet in the office as we approach summer’s end, and we are in some respects standing still, SOREDI is surely about its work to help businesses grow and expand in Southern Oregon. We are privileged to continue grant administration for businesses impacted by the pandemic and wildfires of 2020, and we are responding to active recruitment leads and local company expansions.

Read more here about the pandemic relief grants in Josephine County – JoCo Relief Grants 2021 – SOREDI. The application period ends August 26.

We are also pleased to be partnering with the United Rotary Clubs of Southern Oregon to provide grant administration services for businesses impacted by wildfires. This program may provide up to $5,000 for small businesses and sole proprietors who lost property and equipment in the Almeda and Obenchain fires. The application portal can be found here: Rotary Rebuilds Southern Oregon.

Moreover, we are actively shaping ideas around how our region might apply for one or more American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant opportunities that could dramatically impact our region’s economic rebound. We are eager to find regional solutions for recovery and resilience, in alignment with the One Rogue Valley 5-year Strategy. We are earnestly seeking out impactful projects to help Southern Oregon gain the traction it needs to drive through and around future mud bogs.


Do you have a great idea that could be the game changer for Southern Oregon’s recovery and economic future? Do you have a vision for how we can build back better? We’d love for you to engage in one of our One Rogue Valley Strategy coalitions.  Please do not stay stuck in the mud … call us to find out more!

By the way, I learned this week that Belle has a vehicle identification number and might even now be as close as Portland! Yes, it’s been six months of standing still, but I’ll be on the lookout for a few good mud puddles very soon – some adventures never change! Please note that is not a bronco pictured but wow… look at that view!

When you have done all else, stand. (Ephesians 6:13)


Colleen Padilla, Executive Director


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