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Letters, Nov. 21

The task of rebuilding

The fires that tore through our communities recently destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and burned acres of farm and orchard lands. Peace House will continue to provide information about disaster relief in the short run. Meanwhile, attention turns to the task of rebuilding.

The fires especially destroyed neighborhoods of hard-working neighbors of modest means, people who contribute a great deal to the economic, social and cultural health, diversity and vitality of the Rogue Valley.

It is highly likely that various individuals, companies and local groups will be offering very different plans and visions for rebuilding. Will the effort be driven by a vision of more expensive housing schemes that many will not be able to afford? Or a vision of more affordable, more sturdy housing and more sustainable planning that can promote social diversity and vibrant community?

Will rebuilding drive many out of the valley and build walls between us? Or will we rebuild in a way that acknowledges the presence of all our neighbors? Most important: Will the people and communities most affected by the fires have a strong voice in decisions about planning and rebuilding?

If we want an economically and socially healthy, vibrant and more inclusive community in the Rogue Valley, we have the opportunity to plan and build with that in mind. Peace House supports this more inclusive process, and will be watching its progress with great interest.

Jim Phillips, chair, Peace House Board

Ashland

Grateful for Greenway help

The Almeda fire was devastating, a tragic shock for our entire region. While the focus initially had to be on trying to fill the needs of displaced, distraught people, I was also very worried about the fate of the Greenway. It is terrible to see our green corridor turned black!

Having taken a leading role in the making of the Greenway for 30 years, I know the land and the stories about the creation of the system. The system as we knew it on Sept. 8 involved many years of negotiating for property, moving through many planning and community processes, securing agreement among six local governments, and raising a lot of money.

Since the fire, contributions in support of the Greenway from community volunteers, Jackson County Roads & Parks, five cities, several agencies and even a busload of students from Klamath Falls have been incredibly moving and important. I am immensely grateful for every individual and every organization helping stabilize creek banks, remove hazard trees, champion repairs and move toward restoration. My sincere, deeply felt thanks to all who are embracing this work!!

The Greenway was created by an enormous years-long effort of many people with the goal of connecting five cities along Bear Creek with a trail and to protect a wildlife corridor in a rapidly growing urban area. As time goes by, the restored Greenway will forever fill these roles.

Karen Smith

Ashland

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