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Ashland Citizens Address Proposed Logging on Mount Ashland

Concerned citizens, spiritual representatives from many Ashland
churches, temples, and local tribes, meet in Ashland's Lithia Park
to honor and highlight the pristine Ashland Watershed. Concerns were highlighted about the Mount Ashland Association's proposal to log seventy acres of old-growth forests (for new ski runs), thus possibly impacting the Ashland Watershed.
(March 3, 2007, Ashland, Oregon)
A group of approximately fifty community members met in Lithia Park beside a gurgling stream,
emphasizing the beauty and "lifeforce" of Ashland Creek and other areastreams, rivers, and its local watershed. The event was hosted by Grandmothers & Friends in Green, chaired by Angie Thusius, who opened the event by stating, "There are old-growth forests among this watershed. Their roots help to anchor the soil on the mountains. Our bodies are 70% water, and the planet is approximately 70% water, so we are gathering here today at Ashland Creek to honor the water in this area." Ms. Thusius formed her group last June after reading in the local Ashland newspaper that The Mount Ashland Association was "planning on logging seventy acres of old-growth forests for ski slopes." Even though there have been court cases pending on this development, she felt compelled to have an event to "emphasize our pristine watershed here in Ashland." Noting that "worldwide watersheds are diminishing, and that we can all think about the future, preserve the Middle Branch (of Ashland Creek's East Fork) and keep it undisturbed." Pointing to the facts about Ashland's Mission Statement, she also added, "Our City (of Ashland), in terms of watershed issues, has the power to maintain and preserve our watershed from developments." Logging was to begin in early April, but now is postponed until June.

Ten members (of the 100-member) Ashland Peace Choir entertained the event with a song written by singer Holly Near, entitled 1000 Grandmothers. The head of the Ashland Peace Choir noted, "Holly Near wrote the song after being inspired by the work of women in the Israeli-Palestinean border conflict. When the border was closed, lives were altered, and many detainees were punished. A large number of women came to the area to observe and they enacted change with international attention and legislation." The song's lyrics focused on sending 1000 grandmothers to lend "a loving ear", to sing "sweet freedom songs" and make "violent men weep" when 1000 grandmothers wrap "their arms around them" showing the power of love.

Among the speakers: Buddhist Lama Pema Clark noted that "We cannot survive without water. We are interdependent with water...There is no definition for the pure essence of waer. This purity cannot be contained in any way. If you rest your mind for a moment on the sound of the Ashland Creek, our mind rests within the peace of it."

Sue Morningstar of Havarrah sang a Jewish prayer song, based on the biblical passed "to draw water with Joy from the Living Well". She emphasized to "spread the wings of peace over the issue, that water is alive, and we come from water (ie. amniotic fluid), and to honor all waters of life, and especially have deep gratitude for the clean, pure, clear water of this area."

Flute player Richard Williams was in a state of grace when he played his moving music, noting, "My favorite thing in the world is sitting by the creek and playing the flute--just understanding the wealth of running water. After a few years, I have learned to play the flute less and listen to the stream more. Now both are playing, because the sounds of the living water is a great band to play with."

Norma Brown of Unity Church stated, "I brought this sacred walking stick from the former September gathering of 700 in Ashland...to remember that we are alive in the Time of the Great Turning of Consciousness. We will make the choices to let the planet live. I previously worked with Joanna Macy with the Council of All Beings, which stresses to listen to all beings and give voice to their concerns. You can tune into the environment and hear what it is saying." She futher noted that "The Dalai Lama says 50% of your time during the day you should be listening by praying, meditating, walking, etc. Listen to the creek. The Navajo have a saying that asks Will I be a person who, when I die, a place will miss me? What do you hear from the nature spirits today?"

Jim Young noted that "Water is the fountain of youth. Without water, there would no youth."

Drummer, singer Heather Hutton contributed a beautiful, spell-binding, song about nature.

Julie Norman read a statement from Native American elder, Agnes Baker Pilgrim. Pilgrim was recently honored by the City of Ashland with the new statue of her in downtown Ashland (on First Nations Day, Sept. 30th). She sent the following concerns: "I am sorry I cannot be with you today. I was called to be with my tribal people in Salem today to elp gain access to some of our People's burial grounds, and to speak on a panel at the Public Interest Law Conferene in Eugene.
...I'm the oldest Takelma female of the Takelma Band that lived in Southern Oregon for 22,000 years. I'm a Alumni of SOU, and I reside in Grants Pass. On Oct. 11, 2004, I began to meet with the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. It has been a deep honor and humbling experience to work with the other 12 grandmothers. We meet every six months at each of our residences. The Declaration Statement by the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers describes our concern about the chaos in our world today. Our message is for peace for all People, better water, cleaner air, attention to climate change, and empowering women. We send positive messages to all people to help take care of our Earth Mother. It is not we adults who own the world..it belongs to the Children. So I pray that we keep the Beauty that we walk in today for the seven generations to come after us. I have a great concern for our waer. I've traveled the world, and waer is bad all over. More and more people have to pay for botled water, an clean water is becoming so scarce. So I pray that we don't treat our rivers and streams like garbage dumps. Water is the lifeblood for all living things.

Pilgrim continued, "As an elder in Southern Oregon, I wish to put forth my concerns about developing a bigger ski area on Mt. Ashland. What about the financial risks that we now face due to climate change? What about the trees they propose to cut up int he headwaters of Ashland Creek? Will that increase eroision? All these impacts must be considered as decisions are made. We must also help take care of our animal kingdom. Without their existence, we are dead. Pretty soon we humans could become an endangered species too. I would also request that the planners for this project ask for input from our First Nation peole who use the sacred sites up there. Mt. Ashland has be en known as a sacred place in the past, and is so now. Just because there isn't a steeple, doesn't mean it isn't sacred.

In closing, Pilgrim added, "I pray that our Creator will be with the decision-makers in whatever is done int he Ashland Watershed, and that their actions will benefit all that lives, the four-leggeds, the swimmers, the winged ones, the two-leggeds, and all other beings that are part of this beautiful blue planet, our Mother Earth."

Buddhist Lama Ishe Park added, "This creek is part of the health of this valley. We can become overwhelmed what to say about the problems, we can become disheartened, but sitting by the sie of Ashland Creek can fill your heart, to cultivate fearlessness. It is the mantra, Om Tare Tu Tare, Taru Swoha, the sacred sounds, to pray that the 1000s of grandmothers and grandfathers come together to save our planet."

Rev. Heather Lynn Hanson of Ashland's Unity Church, emphasized "I have recently been reading about the Hefer Institute's programs where they are bringing trees into treeless areas (because thoughtless people allowed cutting of their trees). They show how hard it is to restore a landscape. I am concerned about what it takes to ahve well-groomed ski trails, and how hard it will be to restore our Austin Watershed if problems arise later. "

Angie Thusius (of the Grandmothers & Friends in Green) can be reached at 541-552-0922.
Agnes Baker Pilgrim (www.agnesbakerpilgrim.org) is hosting a "Blessing the Mountain Equinox Celebration" on Mt. Ashland (date and time to be announced).
Independent Journalist, Jane Ayers, is a Human Rights & Environmental reporter, published in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, etc. She can be reached via email:  ladywriterjane@hotmail.com.

homepage: homepage: http://www.agnesbakerpilgrim.org
phone: phone: 541-552-0922
address: address: Grandmothers & Friends in Green, Angie Thusius

correction to 1000 Grandmothers introduction 13.Mar.2007 21:50

Elizabeth Bingham embingham@hotmail.com

Holly Near was inspried to write 1000 Grandmother's from stories of the strength of women, not specifically at the Israel-Palestine border.