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RARE, a Privileged Flock

Privilege is synonymous with the saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know.” We’ve all heard these words and invariably, been on both sides of this coin. We live within the comforts of our privilege or on the outside looking anxiously in, perhaps enviously. Privilege is both earned and undeserved, inherited and bestowed, constant and permeable. I often reflect on my own personal and professional journey and its relationship with privilege to find there are important moments in time, people and places, toil and luck, that create my story, or at least the one I tell myself. Within this story is an archive of memories, individually unique, simply complex, and ever-changing. And while distinct, my story is intrinsically linked, inseparable to yours. We’re part of a unique group, a civic congregation bounded by common purpose. Together, we share Oregon’s diverse landscape, have an overlapping rolodex of memories and relationships, and together hold still-visceral reactions to having been called an ‘intern’ when we were most definitely something else, something more important. Our connection, of course, is none other than RARE.

The RARE Family, as commonly referred, is a hodgepodge collection of people and experiences to which we’re all privileged to participate. Each of us have earned our RARE credentials. We earned our membership through nights of solitude as we found ourselves in far-flung strange places far from the comforts we once knew. We earned it through our hours of service as we worked alongside the communities, organizations, and people we barely knew. We earned it through the connections we made, relationships kindled, and occasional late-night revelry during RARE trainings. And yet, we owe so much of our privilege to those that came before us.

Personally, I hold my privilege accountable to the legacy of folks like David Povey, the visionary with an idea to form a rural capacity building service corps. To Megan Smith, RARE alumnus and unabashed rural champion who raised RARE from the ground up, serving as our fearless leader for 24 years. And now, Titus Tomlinson, unequivocally the soul of our family leading us into our next storied chapter. And while not all of our experiences and memories are held in the same accord, we share a responsibility of service to not just the aforementioned leaders, but to ourselves, our peers, to those who come next and, perhaps more importantly, to the communities at the center of the RARE program. We share this responsibility and I’m honored to have the opportunity to keeping the RARE legacy alive by volunteering with the newly created RARE Alumni Association. Our goal, novel and still forming, is to create a platform for RARE members to formally connect with each other, deepen professional relationships, and mentor the next generation of leaders that come through the RARE program. We’re eager to grow the Association’s steering committee, need champions, and hope some of you will join this effort. Every contribution and ounce of volunteerism matters.

I love walking into every small town in Oregon knowing there’s chance I’ll find a fellow RARE or someone who’s been impacted by our reach. I love the curious amalgam of the past and present members of this network, 600 strong and counting. I relish the privilege of the RARE family. And while systems of entitlement aren’t typically revered, I’m honored to be part of this privileged lot and to having the chance to get to know so many of you over the years. It was great to see each of you, new and old friends, at the RARE 25th Anniversary Celebration.

In Service,
Michael Held, Year 18

Library Maker Space To Provide New Learning Environment

Roseburg Public Library is excited to announce plans for a maker space that will engage people of all ages.

A maker space is an environment that provides technology equipment and tools for a wide range of skills and abilities. The emphasis is on learning and collaboration in an encouraging, nonjudgmental, self-paced setting.

Roseburg Public Library’s space will feature three permanent items: an LX3817 Brother sewing machine, a one-inch button maker and a LulzBot Taz 3D printer. We anticipate supplementing the space with items on loan from the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub.

The project is being spearheaded by this year’s Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Participant, Katie Fischer. Fischer is a University of Oregon graduate who volunteered for two years at Eugene Public Library’s Maker Hub. She selected the sewing machine and button maker because they were popular at Eugene’s library.

The 3D printer is made available through partnership with the Oregon Technology Access Program (OTAP), which is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education and works out of the Douglas Education Service District. Many thanks to OTAP for sharing this amazing tool.

At this time, we are recruiting volunteers who have technology experience and would be comfortable working with the public on their projects and troubleshooting the equipment. Training on the three permanent items will be provided. A commitment of two hours per month is required.

The volunteer application is located at; click on Policies and Forms. Contact Circulation Supervisor Liz Hendershott with questions or send a completed volunteer application to her at

We will introduce the public to the maker space at drop-in community open houses on Dec. 4 from 3-5 p.m. and Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fischer will lead tours and demonstrations; there will be no hands-on activities during these sessions.

We will launch the space Dec. 20 from 1-5 p.m. and anticipate providing one session per month. Equipment will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participants will be limited to making a 3D project that takes no more than one hour to print; this limits the size of the project and allows multiple people to try the technology.

Participants also will be limited to making 10 buttons during a session. There is no time limit on using the sewing machine; we will evaluate that as we proceed.

The library has set nominal fees for supplies used in the maker space, from five cents per gram of 3D printer filament to 10 cents per button. Payment is by cash or check only.

We look forward to providing the opportunity to play and learn in this new environment. See you at the library!

Kris Wiley is the director of the Roseburg Public Library. She can be reached at 541-492-7051 or

Katie Fischer is Roseburg Public Library’s RARE AmeriCorps Participant. She may be reached at 541-492-7052 or

Originally published in the News-Review

Cooking Up A Southern Oregon Food Trail

Local tourism agencies want to create a Rogue Valley food trail to highlight the popular culinary institutions that have root in one of the best agricultural areas of Oregon.

A two-day culinary and agritourism workshop is being offered to Rogue Valley residents who want to increase tourism to their culinary business and to the Rogue Valley in general.

The workshop is being offered by Travel Oregon, the state’s tourism commission, and is supported by local tourism branches Travel Southern Oregon and Travel Medford.

It’s scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 23-24, at the Phoenix Plaza Civic Center, 220 N. Main St., Phoenix.

The two-day event includes an educational component offered to anyone in the Rogue Valley who has a food-related business and wants to gain some traction. This component will help business owners and farmers learn more about the food tourism niche in Southern Oregon and how to market their products and services more efficiently, as well as the farmland use regulations and codes that must be adhered to when inviting the public to events on agricultural land.

There’s also time for networking, touring of various businesses and a discussion for the development of a “food trail” in the Rogue Valley that would highlight local markets, farms and eateries.

Kristy Painter, Travel Medford administrative coordinator, said Travel Oregon has helped several other regions in the state create food trails, and they’ve all been successful in attracting visitors.

“We have such a rich agricultural background,” Painter said. “We can grow pretty much anything here — the pears, grapes, pretty much anything you can name. Our seasons are so well defined and with all of that diversity we can create a way of marketing it all.”

She said the idea for the food trail is to include businesses and farms focused around culinary experiences, not wine or beer. Although Southern Oregon is well known for its vineyards, the Southern Oregon Winery Association has created a system of wine trails within the region. She said a hope is that the food trail could pair well with some of the wine trails.

“We want this to enhance and work with the vineyards, but not really encompass them,” Painter said. “We have so many heritage farms — Roxy Ann, Hillcrest Orchards, Eden Valley Orchards, Harry and David — we have a rich history of farming in Southern Oregon. We want to showcase the makers in the area and the farmers.”

Painter noted that the Rogue Valley Grower’s Market was listed in the top 10 farmer’s markets in the U.S. by USA Today in a Sept. 14 article.

The workshop is open to residents of both Jackson and Josephine counties and costs $10 a day.

The first day, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., consists of “culinary and agricultural tourism development in the Rogue Valley region focused on rural culinary and agricultural tourism product development, assessment of the local tourism industry, overview of food and agricultural travel markets, and discussion on top opportunities in this area,” according to a press release.

From 4:30 to 8 p.m., a free networking event will give attendees the opportunity “to hear from influencers who are developing culinary and agricultural tourism projects or business ventures; local initiatives and opportunities to inspire action and collaboration, all while enjoying a taste of local food and beverage,” according to the press release. Locations are to be announced, and transportation is provided.

The following day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will be a discussion of development of a food trail itinerary, an opportunity to learn how to enhance customer experiences and identify project funding and resources.

The events are facilitated by consultant Erika Polmar of Plate and Pitchfork. Polmar is an Oregon agricultural policy expert who specializes in farm-to-table-style dinners.

Painter said Polmar will help attendees understand the legal side of regulations and policies for planning events such as farm-to-table dinners.

Painter said many tourists plan their vacations around culinary experiences.

According to a 2017 Southern Oregon Visitor Report compiled by Travel Oregon, visitors spent $144 million on restaurant food and beverage in Southern Oregon that year.

About 20% of visitors participated in a fine-dining experience, 18% participated in exceptional culinary experiences, 12% visited a brewery or had a beer tasting, another 12% had a winery tour or wine tasting, and 5% participated in agritourism.

Travel Southern Oregon Director Brad Niva said there are six food trails around the state, and four more are underway. He said the Rogue Valley food trail is a two-year project that will be updated the second year.

He said the food trail will be released by the summer of 2020. Maps will be available at the state welcome centers and online.

Josias Escobedo, an AmeriCorps member through the University of Oregon’s RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) program, will spearhead the project.

Escobedo said committees will be created from the workshop event and the committees will determine which farm stands, farms and eateries will be incorporated into the food trail. He said the goal is to take an agricultural approach so restaurants that have an association with sustainable farming such as Ashland’s Standing Stone will likely be prioritized over those that don’t. But ultimately it will be the decision of the steering committee.

“We want to highlight farm stands, farms that have the capacity to invite visitors and food establishments that have their own farming aspect,” Escobedo said.

Morning refreshments and lunch are served both days of the workshop.

Space is limited so registration is required. More information can be found at

Originally published in the Ashland Tidings

City, Grassroots Team Honored For Downtown Improvements

Downtown Warrenton was recognized during a statewide conference of Oregon Main Street.

The city, along with Spruce Up Warrenton, were named “The One to Watch.”

There were 20 businesses, projects, and people recognized at the annual awards event held late last week in Tillamook.

“The city and Spruce Up Warrenton have been working hard on revitalizing downtown (and) South Main Avenue and it is getting noticed!” the city exclaimed on its Facebook page.

Brenda Hoxsey, director of the grassroots Spruce Up Warrenton group, was surprised they’d won an award. She and others from their group had attended the conference to pick up some tips.

“I had no idea and, when we registered, they had little nametags that hung around your neck. Norm (her husband) and I both got one. And it said we were an award winner. I thought there must be a mistake here,” Hoxsey said.

Spruce Up has been working separately but in cooperation with the city. Together they’ve helped revitalize more than a dozen downtown properties, removed weeds and trash, and encouraged businesses to add planters and flowers.

The city has worked with property owners to remove blight at dozens more properties throughout the city. Marina staff created a successful Fish and Farmers Market on Thursdays. Commissioners created an area for a food truck court next to City Hall and its Urban Renewal Agency embarked on a landscaping plan at the four-way stop, near the high school and along South Main Avenue.

“We’ve got a lot to do yet,” Hoxsey said. “People taking a lot more pride in the community. It’s been very rewarding.”

The group plans several large projects in the spring and is working with Warrenton High School’s welding class on decorative trash cans and art students to do some murals.

Also recognized:

** Sarah Lu, Astoria Downtown Historic District Association’s executive director, was named Main Street Manager of the Year.

** Marcus and Michelle Liotta, owners of the M&N Building, 248 Marine Drive, for Best Historic Preservation Project.

“The award winners serve as inspiration to communities across our network and reflect some of the highest level of revitalization success,” said Sheri Stuart, state coordinator of Oregon Main Street. “We are so inspired to see how our historic downtowns across Oregon are coming to life through the creativity, passion, and plain hard work of community members.”

Originally published by the Columbia Press

Reedsport Mainstreet Program Wins Downtown Revitalization Award

REEDSPORT — The Reedsport Main Street Program was the recipient of the state’s 2019 “Best Downtown Image Campaign” award during the Oregon Main Street Conference, thanks to its #TuesdaysOnTheTown social media campaign.

The Reedsport Main Street Program was awarded 2019’s Best Downtown Image Campaign for highlighting the stories of downtown Reedsport’s busines…

The Facebook campaign promoted businesses on Main Street by interviewing owners about their lives, the story behind their business and coming to Reedsport, and what being a main street business means to them. The Reedsport Main Street Program compiled the interviews in a narrative format on Facebook with the pilot post reaching 3,900 people with over 1,600 engagements. According to Emily Bradley, with the Reedsport Main Street Program, this made it the most interacted post in the page’s history.

Bradley recalled they were going through the list of categories for the program and came across the entry for a downtown image campaign. She said the category was the one to really jump out as something to go for.

“We were able to show we had the numbers to be award-worthy,” she said, adding that they were nominated for another award, for best economic vitality, but lost to another community’s program.

The hashtag began as a way to get to know the downtown business owners and start forming a familiar bond with them. Bradley said she has other interviews from #TuesdaysOnTheTown ready to go, and plans to conduct more in the near future. With the Reedsport Centennial celebrations wrapping up over the next few months, she hopes to post more soon.

The Oregon Main Street Program stated that it’s incredible what the state’s communities are able to do. A number of other Oregon towns were represented, with several of them winning awards for their own Main Street Program.

“The award winners serve as an inspiration to communities across our Network and reflect some of the highest level of revitalization success,” said Sheri Stuart, state coordinator for Oregon Main Street. “We are so inspired to see how our historic downtowns across Oregon are coming to life through the creativity, passion, and plain hard work of community members.”

Originally published by the Umpqua Post

Reflecting on a Rural Revolution

As the sun set in the hills of Creswell, it cast long shadows silhouetting buzzing beehive boxes, apple and hazelnut trees, a herd of bison, and a small but mighty community dedicated to helping rural Oregon communities thrive.

At My Brothers’ Farm, a family-run operation, this community was hosting a reunion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oregon-based AmeriCorps program known as RARE, or Resource Assistance for Rural Environments. Taylor Larson, one of the owners of My Brothers’ Farm, is a RARE alum who served in year 2012-13 in Tillamook. RARE operates within the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM).

“You all are the reason we can stand here today and say, ‘We have made a difference in rural Oregon’,” Titus Tomlinson, the new RARE Program Director and alum (2006–07 and 2009–10), told a group of about 150, including fellow RARE alumni, their friends and family, and past community partners seated at tables in the grass.

People in grass and under a tentNew RARE Program Director Titus Tomlinson and RARE Project Coordinator Aniko Drlik-Muehlck (left); Kevin Smith and Karen Laing, siblings of longtime Program Director Megan Smith

Karen Hyatt, the UO Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, took the mic and shared U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio’s statement that he read into the congressional record on July 22 acknowledging RARE’s contribution to the state. DeFazio, Oregon’s longest-serving congressperson, voted for the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993, which first established AmeriCorps, paving the way for the inception of the RARE program.

“In the past 25 years, RARE members have completed more than 2,000 assessments, plans, and reports for local communities; written more than 700 grants, raised more than $6 million for communities, and recruited more than 10,000 community volunteers who served more than 8.6 million hours,” Hyatt read. “It is my pleasure to congratulate the RARE AmeriCorps program on 25 years of service to rural communities in Oregon and to thank RARE for its many vital contributions. I have no doubt these first 25 years of success will serve as the inspiration for the next 25.”

Pillars of the RARE program received heartfelt thanks, including the program founder David Povey (who was unable to attend), longtime IPRE co-director and PPPM Instructor Robert Parker, Departmental Grants Administrator Julie Foster, and Project Coordinator Aniko Drlik-Muehleck. Amid the speeches and catching up with friends, however, there was a notable absence: former RARE Program Director Megan Smith. Smith passed away in October 2018. She had been with RARE since the beginning.

group of people on rocksMemorial for Megan Smith at RARE reunion; RARE cohort from year two of the program, including Megan Smith, center, and David Povey, front right.

“We are all here today because of that amazing woman,” Tomlinson told the crowd.

Megan’s siblings, Annie Laing and Kevin Smith, also spoke at the event.

“The RARE program was so much of her soul,” Laing said. “You were her kids. She loved you all.”

Countless members of RARE, under the guidance of Smith, Povey, Parker, Foster, Tomlinson, and others, have gone on to help communities throughout Oregon. Here is a look back at how RARE shaped its participants, and how its participants have shaped Oregon and beyond.

Scroll to bottom for more photos from RARE reunion.

group of people waving in grassRARE 25th Anniversary at My Brothers’ Farm

infographic map of OregonRARE Map of 25 years of service

Keavy Cook, RARE 2002–03

Keavy Cook

Keavy Cook—now the director of The Ford Family Foundation’s Children, Youth, and Families department—joined RARE because she was looking to connect with communities in her own country before setting off on a career in international development. Before she was even selected for RARE, she drove from Boston cross-country to meet Megan Smith.

“I have strong memories of Megan Smith. She played more of a role in shaping my professional career and my life in Oregon than any other individual.”

Cook was accepted and served with the Siuslaw Watershed Council, where she launched a youth summer camp that still operates to this day and crafted a strategic plan and several grant applications. Cook received a Master in Community and Regional Planning in 2005. She never did go into international development, rather choosing to focus on development at home.

“Being in RARE helped me fall in love with Oregon, to feel closer to rural communities, and to develop confidence in my organizational development passions and understand how to apply this to community building,” Cook said. Cook explained how her relationship to RARE is multifaceted: She has been a participant, staff member as RARE’s field coordinator, and, now, a funder. “Not only does the program support the individuals who participate, but it also benefits the nonprofits and communities that host,” she said. “Human capacity is probably the number one thing needed in rural Oregon. RARE has that orientation, the reputation, and the structure to meet this need.”

Spencer Masterson, RARE 2010–12

Spencer Masterson

Before joining RARE, Masterson spent a semester abroad in Thailand learning how development projects were adversely affecting the most vulnerable residents in predominantly rural areas. There he co-authored a human rights report that was presented to Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission, an experience that primed him for RARE.

For two years, Masterson served with the Ten Rivers Food Web, a food systems network in Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties that works to increase the resilience of the area’s foodshed in the face of climate and economic uncertainty. As a result of community organizing and network development, he wrote a community food assessment of Linn County.

One of his proudest accomplishments during his time with RARE was launching a program that matches Oregon Trail Card benefits at farmers markets, which both provides low-income residents with access to locally grown foods and increases sales for local farmers. He also helped organize the Santiam Food Alliance, a community organization that focuses on spreading the joy of growing, buying, cooking, and eating local foods throughout the Santiam River basin.

Masterson, who is now associate director of Partnerships & Programs at Oregon Food Bank, said he uses the skills he picked up in RARE on a daily basis. “I learned so much about how communities can band together to make the change they wish to see in their communities,” Masterson said. “I also was able to hone many practical skills such as meeting facilitation, public speaking, and grant and budget management.”

Michael Held, RARE 2011–12

Michael Held and a group of people sitting on chairs in grass

While pursuing a master of public administration degree (’11) at PPPM and working as an economic development planning intern with the City of Oakridge, Held met several RARE alumni and Megan Smith, who encouraged him to apply for the program. “Megan became an immediate mentor and someone who I was naturally drawn to because of her tenacity for public service,” Held said.

Through RARE, Held served with the Port of The Dalles, working on two major projects and several smaller initiatives. The first project Held spearheaded was the planning and implementation of a $5.5 million industrial lands redevelopment of a 77-acre mill site, which paved the way for dozens of new jobs and private investment.

He also facilitated a wetland planning process, which established a regional general permit, or a regulatory device that expedites business permitting and development while transparently maximizing environmental protections.

“The relationships I’ve established through RARE serve as my career’s backbone,” Held said. That career has led him to his current position as director of Rural Economic and Policy Services at Rural Development Initiatives based in Eugene.

“To this day, the program embodies that public service spirit and is to be commended for its intentional cultivation of public-minded leaders,” Held said. “I view RARE as a critical component to creating an equitable and just social and economic environment for rural communities.”

Held says he has hired RARE alumni; he’s also engaged to a RARE alumna he met at an earlier RARE reunion.

Jasmine Jordan, RARE 2016–17

Jasmine Jordan

Before moving to Oregon to from the Midwest to join the RARE program, Jasmine Jordan went to Burkina Faso with the Peace Corps to be an economic development volunteer with projects focused on small businesses, irrigation, and reforestation.

“I always wanted to round out my foreign service by giving back to a community stateside,” said Jordan, who had graduated from the University of Dayton, Ohio, with a BA in political science and international studies.

In 2016, Jordan began the RARE program, working as a main street program coordinator for St. Helens Economic Development Corporation (SHEDCO) in northeast Oregon. In St. Helens, she facilitated the development and promotion of local businesses and proprietors through collaboration with the city planning department. Jordan helped write grants for restaurant expansions and art installations, recruit volunteers, develop the SHEDCO website, create wayfinding, and put on events such as the Spirit of Halloweentown celebration (the Disney Channel movie Halloweentown was filmed here).

Her biggest impact, she said, was the grant she wrote for the rehabilitation of El Tapatio restaurant: In 2017, the restaurant received $100,000 from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Main Street Revitalization Grant.

“My position in St. Helens exposed me to many professionals that work in planning, public policy, city government, and economics, specifically the finance and economic firms the city hired to work on urban renewal,” Jordan explained. Exposure to that work and having conversations with these professionals over lunch, she said, helped her decide between going to graduate school for economics or public policy. Jordan is currently a second-year PhD student in economics at the University of California, Riverside.

“RARE’s ability to place, train, and encourage volunteers has truly proven itself over its 25 years of commitment to the State of Oregon,” she said.

Matt Tsui, RARE 2016–18

Matt Tsui

The Penn State University environmental science and geographic information systems (GIS) graduate Matt Tsui applied to RARE because it met three criteria to jumpstart his career:

  • an entry-level job in an interesting field for someone who only had internship experience
  • the opportunity to immerse in the culture of a new state
  • the chance to alleviate some student loan debt through the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award.

Tsui said he walked away with so much more than that.

“It provided me with a family,” Tsui said. “I have had a lot of pretty amazing jobs in the past, but my experience with RARE far beats the rest, because of the support and joy that I received from my RARE fam.”

Tsui served as a geographic information system (GIS) coordinator for the City of Umatilla, specifically the public works department, where he collected locations and attributes for all 2,154 city-owned water and sewer utilities. For the data collected, Tsui developed mobile web mapping applications to streamline access to utility maps and plans in the field. In short, Tsui helped modernize the system, establishing a GIS-based tool that helps the planning and public works department make better daily and long-term decisions about how to improve utility services for Umatilla residents.

“RARE provided me with the time and flexibility to make mistakes and learn the core principles of geographic information systems.”

Tsui uses the principles and skills he learned in his current position in North Carolina as an ArcGIS analyst for Esri, a GIS company that builds mapping and spatial analytics software. RARE is so important to Tsui, he noted, that he flew across the country for the reunion and back in just 48 hours.

Emma Porricolo, RARE 2016–18

Emma Porricolo, RARE 2016-2018

RARE provided Emma Porricolo with the experience and qualifications that helped her acquire her current job as assistant planner with the Portland-based Angelo Planning Group. In 2016 as Porricolo neared completion of her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science (with minors in PPPM and geology), she says her PPPM advisor Jessica Matthiesen suggested she give RARE a try.

“My time with RARE provided ‘real world’ experience that has been invaluable and allowed me to truly understand how cities function and the role of city planners at the local, regional, and state level,” said Porricolo. “Through my time serving with RARE, I gained an understanding and appreciation for the cultural differences across the state of Oregon.” Porricolo began serving with RARE in 2016 as a main street program coordinator for the Hermiston Downtown District. Here, Porricolo developed a network of stakeholders to focus on downtown and helped the district gain 501(c)3 nonprofit status. She said the network continues to partner on events and promotions that bring people downtown.

In her second year, she served as a downtown planner for the City of Sandy, working on a walkability study and a master plan for downtown expansion.

“Learning firsthand that I could connect with people very different from myself and collaborate with them to reach a shared goal was a pivotal experience for me,” Porricolo said.

Corum Ketchum, RARE 2017–19

Corum Ketchum

Corum Ketchum, who received his undergraduate degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management in 2016, first discovered RARE when he was taking the course Real World Eugene and working with the city to research student transportation projects. Megan Smith came and pitched the program to the class. “I didn’t know it at the time, but the conviction from that red-haired woman would point me toward the beginning of my career.”

Ketchum just completed his second year with RARE, where he has served as an economic development specialist with the City of Veneta. During his tenure, Ketchum worked on a wide variety of projects including developing a network of local and regional economic development professionals, planning large public events such as Veneta’s downtown festival, and writing policy reports to guide the decision-making of staff and elected officials. He also wrote grants for more than $300,000 in economic and infrastructure projects.

“RARE has been the perfect opportunity to apply what I learned in PPPM in a professional context,” Ketchum said. “RARE has made me feel both empowered and vulnerable. Clearly, I have been able to apply myself to a wide range of problems and make my mark. That has been gratifying, but it is the humility I have gathered from spending time with the people I’ve met along the way where I have grown the most as a person.”

Ketchum will return to the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management this fall to pursue a Master in Public Administration.

Originally published by UO School of Planning, Public Policy and Management

RARE announces new Program Director – Titus Tomlinson

We are excited to announce Titus Tomlinson has assumed the role of permanent Program Director for the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement’s Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps program. Titus served as RARE’s Field Coordinator for seven years until Megan Smith’s passing last October. At that point he assumed the role of Acting Program Director.

We are delighted to have Titus assume this role—his depth of experience and passion have added stability to the RARE program during the past difficult few months. We look forward to his wisdom and commitment as we continue RARE’s legacy of supporting rural Oregon communities and organizations.

As we look forward to the next 25 years of RARE, please join us in congratulating Titus on his new role!

Reedsport Community Celebrates Centennial

Aug. 14, 2019 — Reedsport celebrated its Centennial birthday on Saturday with a carnival, concert and free admittance to one of the coast’s most interesting educational destinations, the Umpqua Discovery Center. Reedsport was incorporated as a city on Aug. 6, 1919, just 26 years after the City of Florence was incorporated.

Emily Bradley, Coordinator of the Reedsport Main Street Program, says the fact that the city made it to this birthday is significant in and of itself.

“The Centennial Carnival and the entire year of events to commemorate 100 years of Reedsport came about because 100 years is no small feat. Since it first became a city in 1919, Reedsport has experienced monumental highs with the boom of the timber and fishing industries, but it also has experienced some lows with major floods and when those same timber and fishing industries crashed leaving the economy in disrepair. Through each of those lows, the people of Reedsport were resilient,” she said. “The city recognized the importance in celebrating the centennial because really it’s celebrating the people who make up this community.”

Reedsport is located at the mouth of the Umpqua River and lies in close proximity to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Center. Both of these major natural attractions bring tourists, outdoor enthusiasts and residents to the small former logging and shipping town, which has a population of just under 5,000.

The economic situation in Reedsport mirrors many other towns in the area that were founded and sustained for decades by supporting the timber and fishing industries, until those sectors essentially disappeared.

However, Reedsport, Winchester Bay and other small towns situated along the boundaries of the dunes are currently enjoying a resurgence with the ever-growing popularity of different types of off-road activities.

The large numbers of families and youngsters wearing ATV branded clothing and hats at the Reedsport Centennial spoke to the importance of integrating younger generations of tourists into the region’s recreational menu.

Saturday’s celebrations began with a classic car show early in the day, with the Reedsport Fire Department at hand with a ladder truck for youngsters to explore.

“The carnival specifically was the main event because we knew the event needed to be family-friendly and inviting to the entire community,” Bradley said.

The Centennial Carnival was sponsored by Anandapure, Lower Umpqua Hospital and Fred Wahl Marine Construction, which meant the event had free admission. All the games were also free, and there was a prize every time for each child.

“We had no expectations for how many people would attend, because Reedsport has never had a carnival,” Bradley continued. “Attendance and excitement surpassed expectations and over 1,000 people were in attendance. “

One of the main draws for the celebration was free admission at The Umpqua Discovery Center. The center’s mission is to “provide users and visitors with education about the natural and cultural history of the lower Umpqua area” — and it does just that with a number of informative displays devoted to many different aspects of the region.

Umpqua Discovery Center Director Diane Novak said she was extremely pleased with the turnout for the celebration and her organization’s contribution to the success of the event.

“Reedsport’s 100th birthday … was well attended by over 500 people visiting the center with the free admission,” Novak said. “Visitors enjoyed the Natural and Cultural history exhibits, along with viewing of the newly updated ‘I Remember, I Remember’ exhibit with new Oral Histories to listen to. The new centennial bench, donated by Bill Hardy, located at the front entry of the Center, was also enjoyed by many.”

People were able to take a self-guided tour of the center, which were situated on a series of ramps showcasing dioramas that share the different types of wildlife, trees and undergrowth of the Reedsport area. There is a helpful audio component to most of the dioramas as the animals or birds or bugs that are shown in a specific display can also be heard with a simple push of a button.

The displays are colorful, well maintained and share a significant amount of information in a small space.

In addition, the walls and inclines in the discovery center are painted with long, colorful murals that depict regional themes, history and locations, adding to the overall sense of integration of the facility into the surrounding outdoor space. Many of the animals and birds that are included in the displays inside the center can be seen from these vantage points along the Umpqua River.

The center also features an interactive weather and tide display, a small replica of a Reedsport shop, artifacts donated by past residents and a new collection of oral histories available to interested listeners. An extensive collection of old photographs line many of the walls of the center and these compelling historic images can be purchased as mementos of a visit to the discovery center.

The focus on the natural world and the attention to detail at the discovery center offer a multi-sensory learning experience that is entertaining for all ages but seems particularly well suited to engage younger visitors, of which there were many on Saturday.

Outside, the center offered a wide wooden deck for viewing the Umpqua River, which flows a few hundred feet beyond the center. The deck connects to a small family-run restaurant, The Schooner.

Furthermore, the Umpqua River and surrounding waterways present a growing water-related recreational sector for Reedsport. People who have discovered the many lakes and rivers close to the ocean and the Siuslaw National Forest had tied up their kayaks and canoes along the river and walked the short distance to the carnival area.

The Reedsport Centennial Celebration literally ended on an upbeat note as the last event scheduled for the day was a free concert given by the band Stillwater, which was enjoyed by about 200 individuals.

“Reedsport has a proud past and a promising future, and it’s the people in the community that are giving the promising future to Reedsport,” Bradley said. “It’s important to celebrate the past 100 years in order to look forward to the next 100.”

For more information on Reedsport, visit www.cityofreedsport.orgFor more information on the Umpqua Discovery Center, call 541-271-4816, stop by 409 Riverfront Way in Reedsport or visit

Originally published by The Siuslaw News

RARE AmeriCorps Applications Open for Late Recruitment

Are you interested in community building, natural resources, food security, natural hazard planning, economic development or land use planning?  Does your organization have community building, natural resources, food security, natural hazard planning, economic development or land use planning projects that you do not have resources to complete?  If so, you should consider applying to the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) Program. Continue reading “RARE AmeriCorps Applications Open for Late Recruitment”

USDA Grants PPPM $100K

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) awarded the University of Oregon $100,000 for its Rural Energy Development for Oregon program proposal. The grant was the largest given out of the $1 million dispersed across 17 states and Puerto Rico.

The UO applied to the grant through Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE), Oregon’s AmeriCorps program, housed in the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM).

With the grant, RARE will partner with the Seattle nonprofit Spark Northwest and rural small businesses, farmers, and agricultural producers throughout the state to increase renewable energy generation. (See map of proposed sites below.)

Map of Oregon sites“Over 24 months, RARE and Spark Northwest will work together to evaluate renewable energy opportunities and provide renewable energy development assistance directly to rural small businesses, farms, agritourism operators, and agriculture producers across the state,” RARE outlined in its grant application. “The project will provide education to engage with at least 150 farmers and small businesses about energy opportunities, provide project-specific consultations for at least 40 of these entities, and shepherd at least 20 energy projects successfully through the development phase.”

Read more about the grant program in the Capital Press article, “USDA grants to help farms, businesses cut energy costs.

Originally published by University of Oregon College of Design