Ashland, Ore.: Pathways to Participation

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By K.C. Compton

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Each year, Mother Earth News selects a handful of sustainable communities to highlight in their annual Great Places feature.

One of the things 28-year resident Katie Gomez appreciates most about Ashland is the number of volunteer opportunities available, and the variety of people who participate in all aspects of the community. From the Jackson County Master Recycler Program, to bird-watching and nature classes at North Mountain Park, to volunteers who take tickets and usher for theatrical events, Ashland abounds in pathways to participation. ScienceWorks Museum, for example, offers hands-on activities, family science night, camps and even a telescope-lending program. “I volunteer with three organizations,” says Gomez. “I believe most folks here volunteer for at least one.”

Mention this town in southern Oregon and the response is likely to be an enthusiastic, “The Oregon Shakespeare Festival!” This internationally renowned theater has become an economic engine for the town, along with organizations such as the Oregon Cabaret Theatre and Ashland Independent Film Festival.

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