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Council Corner: Mayor offering dinner to essay contest winner

It’s New Year’s Day, and here’s a challenge for 2016. The prize? I’ll take the winner to dinner at my favorite restaurant.

To enter, submit a 400 to 700-word essay to be published in the Tidings on the subject, “A concrete example of how I can make the world better in 2016.” In my State of The City speech on Jan. 11 at the Community Center — doors open at 5:30 p.m., food and music provided — I will give three examples of how our community needs to take what Christopher Fry called “The longest stride of soul":

Dark and cold we may be, but this

Is no winter now. The frozen misery

Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;

The thunder is the thunder of the floes,

The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.

Thank God our time is now when wrong

Comes up to face us everywhere,

Never to leave us till we take

The longest stride of soul [humankind] ever took.

Over Christmas I visited the folks at Equamore, who are living their response to my challenge and have been for over 20 years. Haven’t heard of them? That may be because the way they’re making the world better is so heart-wrenching it’s really hard to contemplate.

Equamore rescues, comforts and rehabilitates abused horses. In its spacious barns and arenas live over 50 horses, nearly all of whom have been wounded, starved, abandoned or worse, and are now living in peace and good health, cared for by a group of people absolutely dedicated to their well-being.

Most of these horses are from Jackson County, but some come from out of state. Each one has a story that at first kindles outrage and anger at the perpetrators of their suffering but that turns to wonder at how they have been brought back to health and loving relationship by their benefactors.

I’ve picked Equamore as an example of the kind of change Fry envisioned because it is not about a philosophy or ideology; the work itself stands on its own. If you are curious about what I mean, or want an inspiration for your entry, contact them at 541-482-5550 or www.equamore.org and go out for a a visit.

Send your submissions under the title, “2016 Dinner Contest” to john@council.ashland.or.us. The deadline for entries is 5 p.m. Jan. 31.

Sample prize: Tuscan bowl with quinoa, roasted cauliflower, carrots and yams, caramelized onions, kale chips and garlic chicken with Nirvana sauce.

Buon Appetito and Happy New Year!

— John Stromberg is mayor of Ashland.