While we are on the subject of resolutions, if you are resolved (see what I did there?) to make your home a more green and sustainable one, there’s no better time to incorporate energy-saving measures than during the cold months. Here are five simple things you can do to make your house more efficient…
#1 Install a Programmable Thermostat
The advice is usually to turn down the temperature during the winter, but wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to a warm house?Programmable thermostats let you pre-set temperatures and schedule when the furnace goes on and off. If you use them correctly you could see up to $180 in savings each year. More sophisticated devices like the Nest learn your daily routine an automatically adjust temperatures based on your habits. We got a NEST at our house a couple of years ago. I like it, even though it turns the heat on about 30 minutes too early in the morning for me. It wants the house to be of a comfortable temperature for when I get out of bed, but makes the room too warm to sleep in. Maybe some day I’ll figure out how to fix that.#2 Install Ceiling Fans
Fans move cool and hot air around your living space, allowing you to turn the temperature down in winter and raise it during summer. During the wintertime, you can reverse the fan’s direction to clockwise to keep the warm air moving down. Plus you can hang your clothes on them for a winter air dry. (Okay…that was a joke)
#3 Eliminate Air Leaks
Use a door draft stopper and caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows to cut down on the cold air coming in. I actually have the worst door ever for this. I’ve got to get someone out to fix it. We took the weatherstripping off when we had our house painted. However, the weatherstrip was installed wrong because the door jam need to be completely re-done. I just talked to a contractor today get him on the schedule to come fix that.
#4 Use Power Strips
Did you know that many of your appliances use electricity whether they are on or not?Standby power is electricity that’s being used by things like TVs, computers, appliances, and phone chargers, even when the devices are in stand-by mode or even off.
Plug electronics, chargers, and appliances into power strips and switch them off when you’re not using the devices. You could save up to $200 per year! Or you can buy outlets with a remote control that allows you to turn the whole outlet off.
#5 Change Your HVAC Filter
If you change your filters monthly, you may lower your energy bills by 5 to 15 percent. Plus stop that annoying wheezing sound they make when they get dirty.
Simply put, dirty, clogged filters make the HVAC system work harder.
The savings can be substantial if you keep your filters clean as the average household spends approximately $2,200 on heating and cooling costs every year. Getting the HVAC system regular yearly maintenance is also beneficial.
The 501-c-3 Files from The Ashland Sneak Preview
By Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle
She is hard to miss: Flaming red curls, flamboyant feathered hats, a huge smile and it is not unusual for her to have wings! Janai Mestrovich a.k.a. Grandma Boom is the head and heart of The Conscious Living Foundation (CLF). The CLF is dedicated to creating a world where children have the emotional tools to make good choices from the inside-out. I first met Janai at the Ashland Chamber of Commerce Greeters’ meetings where she regularly demonstrates her teaching methods. My favorite is the expandable rainbow sphere. She uses it to teach how to take a deep breath in order to calm yourself and it is very effective!
I met with Janai at the Breadboard and (while I ate my favorite pancakes) asked her about what made her so passionate about kids’ emotional health. She was ready for me with a couple of daunting statistics. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 50% of all children and youth in the U.S. right now suffer from some form of mental health issue and there is an eight to ten year lag between the onset and any treatment. Sadly, 75% of the cases are never resolved.
This great need is what drives Janai to get creative and do something about it. Her pioneering work advocates that all children deserve the right to learn self-help skills that strengthen their resiliency, confidence, self-control and mindfulness. Janai has developed and applied her program for over 40 years and has won several awards for her methods.
Locally, she teaches workshops around the Rogue Valley. She has done work with Lone Pine Elementary and Griffin Creek Elementary in Medford and the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program through the Jackson County Oregon Child Development Coalition. She also does a class to train parents and teachers.
The latest CLF project is called Empowering Superkids. “It is focused on using 3D tools that engage all the senses, like the expandable rainbow sphere, to teach young kids to know themselves in a way that creates health, happiness and self-accountability.” Here is the wonderful example she gave me of how she knows it works.
One day, after Grandma Boom had been working with a class of preschoolers, the teacher was getting frustrated and upset. One of the boys in the class noticed and started singing the “calming song” to her and the class joined in to help her calm down. “Calming, calming I’m calming myself (with soothing hand gestures). Breathing, slowly, I’m calming myself.” Just imagine! These little super-kids were able to recognize the emotion and they had the tools to help the teacher. I wish I had a Grandma Boom when I was growing up.
Another fact that Janai shared with me is that 85% of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five. That is why it is so important to get these tools to them as soon as possible. While Grandma Boom is making a difference here in the Rogue Valley, Janai is not satisfied with helping just a few kids. She wants to help all of them.
To that end, Janai and the CLF are doing everything they can to get the word out. She recently met with former State Representative, Peter Buckley who was very encouraging about the program. Apparently there are already programs that exist to help older kids with mental health but nothing out there for pre-K! With more funding, the CLF is dedicated to create the resources for teachers and parents all over the world to learn and teach these methods themselves. There is already a guidebook available on Amazon called the Superkid Power Guidebook as well as 6 other books that can be used with children to teach them these skills.
Their website: ConsciousLivingFoundation.us is currently under construction and will be up and running December 1st with a downloadable video series for parents, teachers and pre-K children. Meanwhile, just google Grandma Boom for more information. Janai offers Training Workshops, Private Sessions, Curriculum Development, Consultations and Speaking Engagements through the Conscious Living Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to be a part of this effort to help empower Superkids, send a donation to the CLF at P.O. Box 1201, Ashland, Oregon 97520. Everything helps!
The 501c3 Files from Ashland Sneak Preview:
By Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle
I was a bit nervous before I got there. I even brought a homeopathic remedy for bee stings just in case. Oddly though, when I donned the beekeeper outfit that Sarah had lent me, I found I was suddenly completely calm. Under the broad brimmed hat and veil it felt like I was in a dream.
The reality was that I was visiting Ellen Wright’s home apiary. (That’s a bunch of beehives in one area sort of like bee condos). Ellen is the president of the board of directors of Bee Girl and was kind enough to play tour guide for me. Bee Girl is a local non-profit with a mission to save the bees. It was founded by Sarah Red-Laird who is still the executive director. When I met with Sarah to get her story she suggested that to really “get it” that I should meet the bees in person.
This is how I came to visit Ellen’s back yard. After we both geared up, Ellen led me up the hill in her beautifully landscaped backyard to where her bees lived. The sun was shining after several days of rain and there were many bees buzzing about celebrating the good weather and taking the opportunity to get a drink of water and of course visit the flowers. Apparently in rainy weather they mostly just stay in the hive. (Probably watching Bee Netflix.)
June is the busy bee month with the most bees in the hive. The population rises and ebbs with the solstices and equinoxes. In June they have a huge amount of work to do just so they can survive through the winter. They have to make at least 60 pounds of honey per bee hive. This may not sound like that much until you know the rest of the story. It takes two million flower visits to make just one pound of honey (about 1 1/3 cups). On top of that the bees might have to fly as far as five miles away to find good flowers and each worker bee makes only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life. After they make their own 60 pounds, on a good year, one hive can generate 30 extra pounds, or about 2.5 gallons. That means honey for us!
I asked if I could see the bees at work. After using a bee keeper’s tool called a smoker, to calm the bees (they just need to “smell” the smoke) Ellen opened one of the beehives for me to see the bees at work close up. I found their constant weaving motion to be hypnotic and inspiring. There they all were, thousands of them clustered together working to survive – and these bees are lucky.
We have all heard to some extent about how the bees of the world have been having a hard time lately between farmers not planting diverse crops and the continued overuse of pesticides and insecticides. These are just a few factors that have put bees in grave danger. And if bees are in danger then we are in danger. There is a direct connection between 90% of all of our groceries and bees.
But let’s keep this simple. One easy thing that you can personally do to help the bees is to plant bee friendly flowers like bluebells, foxglove, lavender and rosemary. Another way to help is to support the people who are using their voices to speak up for the bees. Bee Girl is dedicated to educating people about bees and advocating for them and their habitats across the country. Through classes, field trips, lectures and fundraising events they are determined to do their part to make the world a safer place for bees. We are lucky to have this great bee resource here!
Their next fundraising event is called Hive to Table Dinner and it takes place this August 26th in Jacksonville at the Hanley Farm. There will be live music and amazing bee inspired food. Think honey and herbs and delicious! Here is the dessert listed: Brown butter ice cream with a crunchy caramel cookie, honey glazed bacon crumbles, fresh blackberries and basil. There is more information on their website www.beegirl.org and you can get a look at the inside of a beehive!
Ashland Sneak Preview March 2017
Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB)
By Adam and Sophia Bogle
Every other month, the AEFB gets a huge influx of of food all on one day that arrives in the iconic green bags from the Ashland Food Project. It is quite an event that lasts for hours and takes a small army of volunteers to pull off. At the end of the day the shelves are so full if feels like there is enough to feed everyone forever. But, inevitably, this food does not outlast the need until the next delivery.
This is what the new AEFB director, Traci Darrow, finds herself contemplating as she steps into the shoes of Pam Marsh. Pam was elected in November as our newest State Representative from Southern Oregon. While some of the challenges of running the food bank may seem daunting, Traci is coming at it from a useful background of politics and nursing. Her last job was Chief Nursing Officer at Rogue Community Health. She jokes that it should have been called “Chief Networking Officer”. Her position there was all about case management and putting people together with the resources they needed. Perfect practice for running the food bank.
The AEFB relies on a huge network of businesses, other non-profits and volunteers so as to help the most people with the resources available. Businesses like Amy’s Kitchen, Albertson’s, Shop N Kart, Village Baker and Starbucks are just few of the regular contributors. Items that are donated in an overabundance are shared with other non-profits like the Food Angels, Maslow Project and the school Backpack program.
I asked Traci what it was like to start work at the AEFB.
Darrow: “I am constantly amazed at how reliable the volunteers are. Somehow they manage to get there even on the days with ice storms! We have a huge pool of volunteers, about 245 people not even counting the Ashland Food Project volunteers. Most of them come from a rotation of faith based organizations. Today the Methodists are there making meal bags where they put together ingredients and a recipe to make it obvious how to cook a nutritious meal. And they are singing while they work!
Bogle: Is it easy to put together meals from what is donated?
Darrow: Sometimes, but so often we will get things like hamburger helper and we have no hamburger. We do have a lot of tuna usually so I wish we would get more tuna helper. Pair all that with some frozen veggies and it’s a pretty healthy meal.
Bogle: What would you like to tell the public about the AEFB?
Darrow: Mostly I just want to express my extreme gratitude for the support that has never wavered. George Kramer, the president of the board has been helping with our Facebook presence and board member Julie Cortez, from OSF, has been helping with press releases and other communications. This is a great team to work with.”
One of the challenges with the food bank is how to get enough of the items that go quickly without getting an overstock of it. Items that don’t last long after the food drive include cooking oil (in small containers please), and healthy cereals. And spaghetti sauce always seems to run out prior to the noodles. The worry is, if you ask people to give extra cooking oil then that’s all there will be in the pantry.
While I was sitting there with Traci, all I could think about was a segment on Sesame Street where the king decided to have a picnic. He told all his subjects to bring something to the picnic, but when they arrived, everyone had only brought watermelon. So he asked them why no one had brought potato salad and next thing, all they had was potato salad. Finally someone spoke up and suggested that everyone bring something different to the picnic. They made a plan and had a grand time. I have no doubt that Traci will find the right plan to solve this challenge. After all, the community does come together in a big way to help, especially on green bag day. And maybe next time I am there helping unload the green bags, I will be singing the Sesame Street song of the King’s Picnic: “Who brought the whipped cream? I did king! Who brought the sour cream? I got it king! And I’ve got the Ice Cream!”
The next Ashland Food Project pick up is April 8th. Contact ashlandfoodproject.com to start donating food throught the green bag program. And if you need food assistance go to: ashlandemergencyfoodbank.org. They are so welcoming. Honestly. Been there.541-488-9544
The Maslow Project
By Adam and Sophia Bogle
This is a success story about a young woman who was helped by the Maslow Project. And while it is your quintessential success story with the best kind of happy ending, it is only one of hundreds of stories of success that have been made possible through The Maslow Project.
What is the Maslow Project? Simply put, they are a local non-profit organization that provides advocacy and supportive services to homeless youth and their families. It is named after the psychological theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. Here is a basic synopsis: The most basic physiological needs of food and shelter must be met before the basic safety needs of health, well-being and a sense of belonging can be met and only when these are met to some extent can people start to address the human need to do well at something and then to give back.
Now on to our story. Serina Quast was a junior in high school when she first heard of The Maslow Project. Her high school counsellor had noticed that Serina, after having been a really good student had dropped her grades dramatically and had basically dropped out of school. When she met with Serina to check in, she explained that her parents were going through a tough divorce and it was hard for her to be around at home so she started staying with friends and relatives. The Maslow Project definition of being homeless is any living situation that lacks fixed, adequate and regular nighttime housing. Thank goodness for counsellors that are on their game!
Maslow Project assigned Serina a Case Manager who made sure that wherever Serina was staying was safe and acted as her advocate to help her get food stamps. Serina was blown away by the level of caring and told me: “I found it surprising that there were so many people willing to help me to succeed and that my community wanted that (success) for me. Walking with my class at graduation was one of my proudest moments. I realized I did that. I put in the work.” After high school she went on to college in Portland and graduated with highest honors. Then, to bring this story up to date, Serina heard through Facebook that there was a job opening at Maslow Project and she jumped at the chance to give back. She started working the front desk and is now the Community Outreach Coordinator where she goes out to talk to people about what Maslow Project does and what it did for her. This really is the ultimate fulfillment of Maslow’s theory.
I asked her what she would like to say to other kids out there having a hard time and this is what she said: “You are not alone. There are so many people out there who care. And that we (Maslow Project) are here and that it’s not just us. There is a whole community of people that believe in this mission of supporting homeless youth and their families.” She added that “Success is different for everyone. It could mean high school, or GED or even getting away from drugs, or escaping domestic violence. My story is not really typical. The average age of kids we help is ten years old and usually it is the whole family that is experiencing homelessness.”
While the resource center is a handy place for meetings and distributing supplies, the folks at the Maslow Project aren’t just waiting for kids to walk through the door. Their focus is on reaching out to meet youth where they are. They have teams that go out on the street and they have school-based outreach with case managers and family advocates in both Jackson and Josephine counties. If you are in need of some help yourself you can call (541) 608-6868.
One of The Maslow Project’s best fundraising events is coming up October 1st: The Southern Oregon Smoked Salmon Festival. Come out to support a really effective and passionate organization that is making a huge difference in our community.
Go to www.maslowproject.com for more information.
By Adam and Sophia Bogle
Science Works Hands-On Museum
I will fully admit that science was not my favorite subject in school, and that I do not get warm fuzzy feelings when I think of going to museums. So you well may wonder why I am writing this article at all. And here is the thing. I was talked into going to ScienceWorks by some friends (smart friends) and found that it is nothing like my boring science classes and also nothing like the “don’t touch anything” museums I remembered at all! I also thought it would just be for kids but nothing could be farther from the truth. When my wife, Sophia and I went to go check it out the first time, we completely lost track of time and spent hours exploring and discovering and just playing. Sophia’s favorite is the air tube where you can fold paper and make it fly; that and the bubble room! Personally, I just love to play in Divinci’s garage. The pegboard marble wall is wonderful due to its sheer simplicity. Time seems to vanish in this room as I connect pieces of wood, and pipes and springs to watch a marble make it’s way down the wall.
ScienceWorks really has something for everyone. Want to solve a Rubik’s Cube or surround yourself in a giant bubble? Or how would you like to learn to cut through a piece of metal with the energy of a pepperoni stick meat torch? Just today I was wandering around the place and saw a very grandmotherly type at one exhibit playing with blocks building a tower while talking to a friend. And elsewhere 7 year old boys were tossing bolts at magnets to see if they could make them stick. Everyone gets to play at ScienceWorks!
There are many different programs at ScienceWorks, including a fantastic summer intern program that provides opportunities for high school students to volunteer and grow through the experience of taking leadership and the responsibility of the experience for others. I was talking with one of their interns, Jordan, about what he liked about being an intern at ScienceWorks. He proudly told me this is his second summer interning and that he had more than 150 volunteer hours in so far. His favorite part is helping the younger children learn, and getting to know them on a personal level.
Asha, is a senior intern this year who had been told from some friends that it was a great place to get her volunteer hours she needed for school. Yesterday she was dissecting plants with 5-8 year olds. Boring, right? But it apparently it wasn’t. Because the plants were carnivores and inside were the bugs that had been caught who upon the dissection of the plant were freed from their captor…only to be pounced upon by 7 children with tweezers and magnifying glasses. I won’t tell you what happened next, but Asha said that “parts and pieces ended up in my hair, and it was completely gross…it was really awesome.”
A great example of a ScienceWorks success story is Heather, who used to visit ScienceWorks on school field trips. She was so inspired by the unstructured yet playful and scientific environment that she decided to study science in school. This led to a degree from SOU, and then on to a PHD from Stanford University where she has continued what ScienceWorks started for her. Currently she is working in the field of battery technology.
And I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention beer. In the fall ScienceWorks puts on Brews and Boogie. With various microbreweries and restaurants providing libations, live music and awesome carnival games. We attended the annual fundraising event for the first time last year, and it is now a must attend event for us. The highlight was certainly the fire shooting carnival game that seemed like it was straight out of a CBS Survivor challenge, where you shot a tennis ball from a giant slingshot…and if you hit the target a fire cannon shot huge fireball into the air.
We love this place. The people who work there love the place. The people who volunteer love the place. The only people who seem to not love ScienceWorks are the people who have never been and think it is either a place for kids, or a boring museum. Become a member or just go visit. You will not be disappointed!
To see all of the amazing things they do and to become a member, visit their website at www.scienceworksmuseum.org.
I have lived in most areas in the state of Oregon at some point in my life. And one thing that I know is that the weather is very different depending on where you live.
People have a view of Oregon as being gray and rainy. While that is true for the majority of the population of Oregon, that’s because the majority of Oregon’s population live the in the Willamette Valley.
So I’m going to break the state into a few general areas, and give a couple of stats for the differences in the weather. You will find that I believe the Rogue Valley has the best weather in the state. However, my daughter lives in Eugene, and thinks the weather there is the best. But she cannot stand the sun, or warm weather. So that is true for her.
To me the Willamette Valley is too grey and wet. Bend and east of the Cascades is too cold in the winter. Funny thing is that Central Oregon is considered to be very sunny, but the Rogue Valley has more days of full sunshine. That actually surprise me a little.
Rogue Valley (Ashland, Medford, Central Point). In town properties. With the radical elevation differences, there are variations if you get into the mountains, but overall the houses are located in the valley.
Average Rainfall per year: 24 Inches
Average Days of Full Sunshine: 113
Average High Temperature July: 85
Average Low Temperature January: 29
Grants Pass (just 30 miles up I-5 and their motto is “It’s the Climate”)
Average Rainfall per year: 37.5 Inches
Average Days of Full Sunshine: 104
Average High Temperature July: 84
Average Low Temperature January: 31
Average Rainfall per year: 45 Inches
Average Days of Full Sunshine: 67
Average High Temperature July: 75
Average Low Temperature January: 36
Average Rainfall per year: 9 Inches (But also 31 inches of snow which is rare in the other areas)
Average Days of Full Sunshine: 83
Average High Temperature July: 80
Average Low Temperature January: 20
Oregon Coast (Actually I’m taking this from Florence which is middle of the state. But compares to all of the Oregon Coast)
Average Rainfall per year: 85 Inches
Average Days of Full Sunshine: 68
Average High Temperature July: 72
Average Low Temperature January: 36
Seems like every couple of years we have a winter that just doesn’t really show up. Although in my time in Southern Oregon, never quite as missing as this. Don’t get me wrong, we had a long cold snap in December, and the valley floor got and kept more snow on the ground than any time in my memory.
However, the snow in the mountains has been missing. A whole year is probably going to pass without Mt.Ashland opening.
But invariably, a wet spring follows a dry winter here. And the signs of that are happening. But if you have the question “is that enough rain?”, then here are the 2 websites I like to go to to see how we are fairing in the water for summer department.
The first is the Bureau of Reclamation page that shows how full our Southern Oregon reservoirs are. At the time of my writing of this, Howard and Hyatt are both at 55% and Emigrant is at 43%. But follow that link to see where those levels are on the day you are reading this.
The second is how much snow is there at Crater Lake. The National Park Service puts out a daily bulletin with snow accumulation current and average. That report can be found here. As of the writing of this we are at 43% of average snow depth for this time of year.
So that all being said, the spring rain that is forecasted to be coming through the area this week is hopefully wet and can make up for the dry January.
The preview shows are underway at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It’s a great time of year to get tickets to shows before the summer tourist season. Along with the serious classic of The Tempest, a more contemporary classic The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, comes the show I am most looking forward to seeing this year.
And that would be the musical The Cocoanuts. Along with being a show that is just bound to be fun, and having a real estate theme…it is also my understanding that there is a fair amount of room for changes and improvisation in the adaptation.
So it could be a good one to see more than once, so seeing an early version would be fun to compare to what it evolves to later in the season.
After a number of years of downturn, it is refreshing to see a rebound in the real estate market in Ashland and Jackson County. The hard economic times that we all weathered through that started with the crash in the real estate market that was caused in large part by the lending practices and gambles made by investment firms on Wall Street seem to have run their course…this time.
We all hopefully learned from this cautionary tale, although when greed abounds I’m sure we are destined to make the same mistake again. But as individuals, we can all make decisions that are based on our personal needs and goals and stay within the bounds of safe real estate purchasing.
I anticipate based on my own research, and that of the head economists from both the Realtor and Home Building associations, that we have started a recovery that is expected to last many years. While I am personally hoping that the frenzy doesn’t lead again to another bubble and responsible purchasing and lending are the rule, we all need to be cautious and not overextend with the same misconception that real estate prices “NEVER” go down.
So where does that leave us today? The market here has definitely picked up steam and sales have been very strong. I said for years to people who asked me if we had hit the bottom of the market yet that the only way we would know would be 6 months to a year after it happened. And according to the numbers, I would say the bottom occurred back in the summer of 2012, although it could be argued easily that it was the summer of 2011.
Now that we have a full year of a strengthening market under are belts, it is a good time to look at what the numbers are.
In the summer of 2012, 49% of houses sold in Jackson County were distress sales, meaning either a foreclosure or a short sale. In 2013 that number dropped to only 19%. While still significant, it is a huge one year improvement.
In the summer of 2011, the median sales price for a home in Ashland was $275,000. In 2012 the median sales price was $292,000. In 2013 that price jumped to $322,000. That is a 15% increase over 2 years. While I would be hesitant to call it appreciation, it does show the strengthening of the market due in large part to the reduction of distressed sales whose competition drag the market price down of all homes.
In 2011 there were 1650 houses for sale in Jackson County, and 300 houses for sale in Ashland. 2012 saw those numbers drop to 1210 and 238 respectively. Those numbers in 2013 held fairly stable over the year at 1181 and 230. This shows what looks like some stability in the supply side of the market.
The number of sales in May-July of 2012 in Ashland was 83, whereas the same period in 2011 was 62. That number increased to 100 sales in 2013. That is a 40% increase in the volume of sales in a 2 year period.
Now the final number I will throw at you is the absorption rate, which is just a fancy way to say supply vs. demand. In the 3 month period stated above, an average of 33 houses a month sold. There are 230 houses on the market. If no new houses came on the market, and houses continued to sell at the same rate…there would be no available inventory left in 6 months. Common wisdom states that a 6 month supply of housing is a stable market. Less than 6 months is a sellers market, more than 6 months is a buyers market.
So the conclusion is that we are looking pretty good at the current time in the housing market. There are buyers out there looking, and sellers are feeling that the market is healthy enough to sell. Those looking to move up or downsize feel the ability to do so. But if there is one thing the last 10 years has taught me is that anything can happen. All we know for sure is what is going on today, and we must all make out best decisions based on that point in time reference.