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Ashland's garden of delights

I had a dream last night. It was in full color and seemed to last for hours, but probably lasted only a minute or so as I bumped off the walls of sonorous slumber. Truth be known, I get my best ideas when I sleep, which has prompted a small clamor of non-devotees to suggest that I be kept awake at all costs. Though I initially hear the beating of the drums and the shaking of rakes by those gathered on the sidewalk, I soon shine a 10 million candle power shoulder flashlight at them and marvel that any of them can find their way home.

In the dream I saw and became part of a possible future Ashland. I studied it with great care and woke up full of hope and promise, for it was a course of action that brought the town together in a myriad and manifold manner.

The first thing I noticed was that about a quarter of all city vehicles and about half of private vehicles were Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) that look like golf carts on steroids, with features such as head and tail lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, seatbelts, etc. They were set up to charge from the grid and from the solar panels affixed to city buildings and private residences around town. In an extended power outage the NEVs would be buzzing around town, transporting volunteers, materials and supplies. They would be off the grid and unaffected by the cost of gasoline, diesel and not subject to interruption offered by blackouts, brownouts or a pesky surge in the price of fuel.

The NEVs were also equipped with heaters, defrosters, hard-panel doors, radios and all the other amenities found currently in new cars. The range would be sufficient for a trip to Medford and back, while negotiating the hills of Ashland with ease and dignity.

While I floated above and around town I noticed massive new community and private "victory" gardens that provided the majority of the fruit, vegetables and herbs consumed in town. They also provided fresh, nutritious and organic fare for our seniors and those in need of any age, through food banks and home deliveries for shut-ins, again by using our fleet of NEVs.

The surplus would be canned for winter use, using the vast kitchens of the schools and houses of religion to funnel the cornucopia into glass for the ride through a hungry winter. A fleet of NEVs would pick up the harvest surplus and silently hum down the street toward sorting and processing.

Although home composting would take on a new urgency, public pick-up of compost at the curb was offered. Managing this public composting would take place in several locations and the odor masked by carbon filters. The resultant garden enrichment would be re-delivered curbside at a very low price, with the balance overflowing into the community gardens to ensure quality and productivity.

The Talent, Ashland, Phoenix (TAP) water line was fully functional in the case of a water outage that seems to follow each of our most recent floods. Language in the City Charter allowed the use of TAP waters only in the case of emergencies, allowing residents to drink, shower, flush toilets and maintain adequate pressure to the many fire hydrants around town when our main system is, well, under water. It is quite silly to have the town burn down after a massive flood, but that is when we are most vulnerable to the errant spark.

I swooped across the sky and came upon a small blimp tethered over Ashland, linked to the Internet. It allowed wireless access for the homes that have been left out, as well as permitting high-speed access, through cell phone e-mail and browsers, to the many volunteers tending to our highly productive private and public gardens throughout town.

Lance@journalist.com was last seen reading a seed catalogue and making a sketch of his upcoming produce garden. Any snail found therein will be renamed an escargot and fair game for a sluggish meal.