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A spirit of community

I would like to offer the following recognition, as the — facilities coordinator for the Oregon Society of American Foresters (OSAF) — planning committee, to the staff of the Southern Oregon University where — our 2004 convention was held on May 5 to 7.

We very much appreciated the fine facilities of the Stevenson — Union Building, the gracious hosting by Katherine Iverson, scheduling — supervisor, and her staff to make our convention such a success.

We also want to thank Joey Ngan, head of campus security, — and his staff who handled the additional security concerns in a very professional — manner due to threats against an individual who had been invited to speak — at our convention.

Finally, our appreciation to professors, Dr. Joseph Graf, — Dr. Eric Dittmer, Dr. Mark Shibley and under-graduate student Tristan — Ragsdale for arranging the opportunity for one of OSAF's guest speakers, — Mark Rey, under secretary for natural resources and environment of the — U.S. Department of Agriculture in charge of the US Forest Service, to — meet with SOU environmental students and Ashland citizens. It was a civil, — productive meeting where Mr. Rey was able to respond to the deep concern — that students and local citizens have over the management of national — forests.

Before the convention, two meetings between professional — foresters and the environmental community provided a model for open, civil — dialogue that is needed in a democratic country. Both Dr. John Sessions — and Mr. Rey appreciated the opportunity to clarify their positions.

Prior to our OSAF meeting we met with campus security, — the Ashland police and federal agents to discuss threats to invited speakers — and potential demonstrations at our meeting. SOU has a good policy to — allow honest and open demonstrations to take place. We acknowledged their — policy and accepted the right of protest.

What we do not accept is blocking passage, swearing at — and threats to the well-being of our speakers, the menacing and swearing — at security personal who were attempting to provide protection and the — vandalism to SOU property. Action of this type does not build community — but tends to allow each side to demonize the others from a self-righteous — position. It is not the way to build a community spirit! It adds to the — fear and distrust which is rampant in our country.

We do not feel a small minority should set the atmosphere — for our community or for our meeting. Weighing all that happened, we conclude — we had a very successful 2004 OSAF meeting and again want to thank the — staff of SOU for their wonderful hospitality.

Howard Heiner

International Forester