Ashland New Plays Festival December 2017

 

The Gift of New Stories: Ashland New Plays Festival from Ashland Sneak Preview

The 501c3 Files

By Adam and Sophia S.W. Bogle

 

Imagine you lived in the time of Shakespeare. Would you have supported that unknown (and sometimes controversial) playwright? Thank goodness someone did or we probably wouldn’t be here in Ashland today. Whether we attend the Shakespearean theater here or not, this town is run on plays. It goes without saying that the old world plays will always have their place here because they are constantly being reinvented for modern audiences. But what about new stories for our current time? You will be happy to know that the Ashland New Plays Festival (ANPF) is providing an oasis for modern playwrights right here in Ashland. They started in 1993 and have become a major play development resource on the west coast.

The main event for ANPF is a one week festival that happens in October. This highlights the four best plays selected out of the hundreds of submissions that ANPF gets from all over the world. The process starts this month by gathering together the play readers. How would you like to be the one to find this new Shakespeare?

My mom came to stay with me one year and to keep busy she became a reader for ANPF. She had been in theater all her life so she really enjoyed the chance to connect with other people in this way. You see, being a reader isn’t just about reading the plays, you also get to meet the other readers to discuss the plays and vote. They need about 50 volunteer readers to get this job done and it must be fun because most of them return year after year. I remember my mom getting so excited about the plays, both the good and the bad. She was very thorough in her assessments, writing copious notes in the margins. (She used to teach English too.) The live readings at the Festival were a wonderful way to celebrate all that hard work.

The ANPF is dedicated to helping their playwrights succeed beyond the October festival. One of the ways they do this is by partnering with other west coast regional theaters. Many of the playwrights go on to have their plays produced in other theaters across the country.  Meredith Friedman, one of the winners from 2015, has her play, The Luckiest People, being produced next March in Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s 29th season. Some of them are even produced at our own Oregon Shakespeare Festival such as Destiny of Desire by Karen Zacarias which is coming up in 2018.

I know you may not have heard of these playwrights yet, but that’s what is so exciting about it all! I know that Kyle Hayden would agree. This is his third season as the ANPF artistic director. He sat down with me at Cafe 116 to tell me about ANPF and I was most impressed with his passion for making sure that these written works are given life on the stage. Kyle had a lot to share with me about the creation of plays and at some point in our conversation, he said something that just made me stop and think: Plays are not movies. Ok, this seems super obvious, and I might have just glossed over it too. But he went on to explain that what it means is that plays demand something of their audience that movies cannot. Going to a live theater is a chance for us to put down our little blue screens and be a part of the live creation of art. It is a literal “con-spiracy” in that the audience is breathing together with the actors on the stage. And that is why the ANPF is so important. It is bringing us some fresh air!

While Ashland New Plays Festival is a great incubator for the future of theater, its success depends greatly on the theater lovers of today to make it happen. You can’t go back in time to support Shakespeare but there is bound to be a new Shakespeare someday. With your help, we might just find them through the Ashland New Plays Festival. For more information go to www.ashlandnewplays.org.

 

Sales to List Price in Southern Oregon

Different areas in the country have different ways of negotiating sales prices.

For example, in the Bay Area recently, the listing prices have been artificially low to encourage bidding wars. So List to Sales price can be way over 100%

I have heard of other areas that list the houses high, knowing it isn’t uncommon to take 75% of the list price.

So it is important to know the area and the norms when working on negotiating.  So your expectations are set appropriately.

Our market typically sees all home sales occurring between 95-100% of asking price.

The breakdown for 2017 for houses in Jackson County between $200-400,000 is this:

0-30 days         99.36%        1450 houses sold
31-60 days       98.06%         337  houses sold
61-90 days       97.78%         180  houses sold
91-120 days     97.74%         122  houses sold
120+ days        97.39%          169  houses sold

Note that in that price range, almost 65% of the houses sold in the first 30 days.  So in a competitive price point, one needs to be ready to make an offer quickly. Which might get you thinking about what it looks like on the upper end of the market.  Interestingly enough there is statistically more negotiation rooms in the upper price ranges.  This is how it breaks down for houses priced over $800,000

0-30 days         98.16%         31 houses sold
31-60 days       97.97%          5  houses sold
61-90 days       98.58%          5  houses sold
91-120 days     92.09%          7  houses sold
120+ days
        94.00%         24  houses sold

So think about that.

A house priced at $300,000 that has been on the market for 100 days statistically will sell at $293,000 or $7,000 less than asking price.

A house prices at $1,000,000 that has been on the market for 100 days statistically will sell at $921,000 or $79,000 less than asking price.

And just because I recently ran the numbers, one more set of stats.

Ashland between $300-500,000 sales price.  Or the “affordable” Ashland homes.

0-30 days          99.02%       62 houses sold
31-60 days        98.39%       25 houses sold
61-90 days        98.49%      16 houses sold
91-120 days      99.43%      12 houses sold
120+ days         99.34%       20 houses sold

Happily Ever After with FOTAS: May 2017

The 501-C-3 Files

by Sophia and Adam Bogle

Happily Ever After with FOTAS

This month we have a special guest writer who has a personal story to share about Friends of the Animal Shelter, FOTAS.

Have you ever had a rescue animal? If you have, then you know that there’s something different about them. I have a long running belief that trials in life bring us additional strength and understanding, and rescue animals do nothing but solidify this idea. It seems to me that knowing hardship, in the way rescue animals do, makes them appreciate a loving home much more than any pet you might buy from a breeder or pet store.

Seven months ago my rescue cat, who was the most dog-like cat you’ve ever met, passed away. I had rescued her when she was about the size of a potato (coincidentally named Po). I got her when I was 21 and she had been with me through all of the ups and downs of a large part of my life. Losing her was really hard and so it took about six months before I felt like I could even consider another pet, Even then I was still approaching the decision with great trepidation.

So one day I wandered into the Jackson County Animal Shelter to check out a couple of the dogs that were currently up for adoption. After taking one of the “interview” walks that day, my attention was captured by a dog that I saw standing on a picnic table. He was ignoring the other dogs in the outdoor run, and instead was watching the volunteers intently as they worked. I was immediately drawn to his calm, intelligent demeanor. I just had to take him out next.

When I arrived at his pen, he was the only dog sitting calmly on his cot while the other dogs were bouncing and barking and generally behaving as I’ve known dogs to behave. He caught me staring at him and let out a single, low bark that was inarguably him saying, “Hey! I see you looking at me”. The instant we got done running around and playing outside, I called my girlfriend and asked her quite frantically how quickly she could get there. I sounded like someone who found the last Tickle Me Elmo hidden on a back shelf (way back in Christmas 1996). My trepidation was gone. I didn’t waste a second and started filling out the paperwork: I knew she’d love him.

Since that day, life has been amazing. He has been the single most well behaved dog I’ve ever met, and he continues to convert one “not a dog person” after another. Of course he is still part puppy and does his fair share of puppy chewing on the wrong things, but apparently love is blind. I’ve always cynically laughed when I read the line “happily ever after” because my realistic mind tells me that life is an assorted mix of the good and the bad, but since that day, I feel like I’ve been living exactly that: “happily ever after.”

I feel I owe my happiness to FOTAS. The amount of hours they dedicate to the Jackson County Animal Shelter every month really could never be fully comprehended and appreciated, but we can sure try. If you wander into the shelter some day looking for a new friend, pay attention to the people walking the dogs, changing beds or cleaning up messes, you are probably looking at a FOTAS volunteer. Give them a smile. They deserve our attention and our thanks.

FOTAS has been supporting the programs of the Jackson County Animal Shelter since 1990. Their vision is for all adoptable animals there to find a loving home. They work to improve the quality of life for the Shelter’s animals, promote spay and neuter programs, and facilitate outreach and educational activities about the humane treatment of companion animals throughout Jackson County.

If you are inspired to give some time or a financial gift (no gift is too small) just go to FOTAS.org. We can’t all adopt a new pet everyday, but working together we can all help deserving pets find their perfect match so they too can live happily ever after.

Talent Maker City: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!

Ashland Sneak Preview

501c3 Files

By Sophia and Adam Bogle

Talent Maker City: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!

I met Ryan Wilcoxson at the ScienceWorks Mini Maker Faire last year. (Which is coming up again September 23rd so mark your calendars!) He was at a booth where they were handing out paper airplane designs and promoting their enigmatic-sounding project: Talent Maker City (TMC). What could this name possibly mean? Were they from a city where talent was created? Was it a subdivision of Talent where they made things? Was it some virtual reality place on the internet? It turned out that my second guess was the closest.

The idea of Talent Maker City is based on creating a “makerspace” facility in Talent. A makerspace is a physical location that offers classes, training, equipment and support for creative endeavors that all have to do with making things, from creating products, to getting experienced

guidance in prototyping an invention. A place where you can learn to fix a lamp, create a new line of tech gadgetry to sell or create your own artwork.

Creating a makerspace is only part of it though. The reason it is called Talent Maker City is because it represents a paradigm shift for the whole city of Talent. The maker city concept has the potential to make small cities thrive through supporting open innovation and creative

entrepreneurship. While makerspaces exist in many big cities. Choosing to create this in a small city requires more effort but also has the potential to have a bigger impact. It can support and sustain the local maker economy and build a more connected, more successful, thriving city that

supports the whole Rogue Valley and beyond.

I went to their open house on April 11th to find out more about it and was amazed at how many people showed up and also at the level of enthusiasm. We did a sort of “window shopping” session on “What do we want this to look like?” and I just remember that everyone wanted it to

be a beautiful space that would encourage collaboration and someone mentioned having a rooftop bar. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

The origin story for Talent Maker City goes back to 2016 when Talent planning commissioner, Allison French and local artist Karen Rycheck discovered the Etsy MakerCities Summit (etsy.com). Through a happy synchronicity it happened that all in the same day they got the approval of Talent mayor, Darby Stricker and then brought Ryan on board (who was doing

woodcraft in his garage) and so they decided to apply to get in. Weeks later they found out they were one of only 13 cities chosen out of 126 to be included so they went off to New York to find out more and create an action plan.

Now, almost exactly a year on from the group’s sojourn back east, Talent Maker City is working with the City of Talent to build the makerspace facility as a core attraction of their upcoming Gateway Project development and they are moving full STEAM ahead! Pun intended. S.T.E.A.M. Stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. Even without having the physical makerspace yet, TMC is offering summer STEAM camps for middle-schoolers through Rogue Community College and the Phoenix-Talent School District. The camps have already begun to fill up so check it out soon! Stop Motion Animation, Rube Goldberg Machines and Renewable Energy are just a few of the ones available.

TMC has also launched what will be a year-round series of diverse maker workshops, from a live bronze pour demonstration to a hands-on udder-to-cheese goat chèvre class in conjunction with Pi Creamery in Talent. More maker workshops are in the works! If you have a suggestion for one, contact them!

Are you a Maker, Entrepreneur or Teacher? Do you want to help Southern Oregon become a vibrant ecosystem for creating economic innovation? Get involved! Go to TalentMakerCity.org and click the contact button to let them know what your interests are. Together we can create an environment that encourages the kind of boot-strap creativity and entrepreneurship that can only be described as Oregonian.

Down Payment Assistance

Did you know that there are great down payment assistance programs in Southern Oregon?  We have regular fundraisers to help fund the Home Foundation First Time Home buyer Grant Assistance Program.

In 2016 we surpassed $100,000 given to over 100 home buyers, and we still have more money to give. In fact we just raised an additional $30,000.

How do you qualify?

First you need to use a local Realtor (such as myself).

2nd, you need to use a local lender (I’m happy to refer you to one of the good ones who understand the program)

Your household income does not exceed the State of Oregon median income level (this number varies based on family size)

Be a first time home buyer, or have not owned a home in the past 3 years.

If you think this might sound good to you, contact me and we I’ll get you the information to get started.  clientsupport@tenrealtygroup.com

WinterSpring #COTM January 2017

The 501-C-3 Files

by adam and sophia Bogle

WinterSpring  (Resources for Coping with Grief)

We have all known people who are grieving. And we have all known the awkwardness of trying to come up with something meaningful to say or do. These days, through Facebook mostly, it seems we get to be “in-the-know” more often than we did in the past. How many Facebook posts do we see now from a friend to learn that their mother, sister or even their dog has died? In the past our only option other than to post a comment was to “like” it. At least now there is a sad face. I would venture to say that many of us are not well versed with death and the grieving that comes with it. But it is inevitable, and coping with the loss of loved ones is really part of living. What we need are a few tools to learn to work through this process that comes about many times in our lives. That’s where WinterSpring can help.

WinterSpring offers phone support, assessment, group grief support to people of all ages with individual peer support, resources, referrals and education. Whether it is loss of a parent, a child, or a beloved pet, there is help for you, or a good resource to send to help others you know may be hurting. Here are just a few examples of how WinterSpring is making a difference.

“Jessica’s” story:  Jessica’s mother died in a car accident when she was just 7 years old. Even after considerable time had passed, she was showing signs that things just weren’t right. She wasn’t interested in the activities she once loved, and had regressed into herself, seldom talking. Fortunately, her school got her connected with a WinterSpring children’s program that meets once a week to support children who are experiencing grief. She was in a group of about 7 kids who were all experiencing their own losses. Jessica connected with one of the counsellors there, Christine (who has an English accent). They played dress up together with Christine becoming the Queen. And when the Queen said that she too had lost a close friend in a car accident, Jessica’s face lit up. She started to realize that she was not alone and that she could share (and process) her sadness. And she was able to start to break out of that shell of depression.

“Randal’s” Story: After the loss of his mother several years earlier, Randal had been acting out in middle school. He would get really angry, and frequently was violent. Then one year, just after mother’s day, his behavior really took a turn for the worse. He had been told to “be tough” after the loss. Again, thank goodness for teachers. One of his teachers who knew that his mother had died, got him into one of the WinterSpring on-site school-based grief groups. As the other teens shared their stories, Randal’s behaviors started to improve. One of the rituals they did was to paint the name of the loved one on a little rock, and they planted a tree and pansy garden, and the kids would place their memorial rock in it. Even though Randal didn’t share much with the group, the teacher noticed that he would frequently go to the memorial rock garden and weed and caretake it. Meanwhile his outbursts got to be fewer and fewer. 

One thing I am finding to be surprisingly useful is their website: www.winterspring.org. There are many resources there about dealing with loss. In fact just today I sent along the packet about “Loss of a Family Pet” to a friend who’s dog of 14 years passed away. (Yes, I learned about it through Facebook.) It was so much better than the flimsy “I’m sorry” that sometimes is all I know how to say.

Do you have what it takes to help others with their grieving? If you think you do,  WinterSpring offers Bereavement Skills Training. The next workshop is March 4th, and is a training for professionals who encounter people in grief and for people who would like to be volunteers for WinterSpring. 

I believe the biggest thing though one can do to help WinterSpring (other than donating money) is to just be aware of the program, to use its website, and to tell others who may be in need of their services.  Let’s not hide behind thinking that everyone will just get over it.

Call them at 541-552-0620 or go to their website to find out how to help, or how to get help.

Ashland Culture of Peace Commission #COTM for February 2017

The 501c3 Files

By: Adam and Sophia Bogle

Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC)

“An enemy is a person whose story we have not heard.” 

Gene Knudsen Hoffman (founder of Compassionate Listening)

This last summer, if you were walking by Chautauqua Square (in front of the Black Swan) you may have noticed a “circle” of chairs.  On and around those chairs were several people trained in compassionate listening, compassionate speaking, and implicit bias.  These are ACPC Peace Ambassadors, and they call this process: “Circling on the Square.” No, they weren’t preaching. Twice a week, they would make themselves available to the public to listen to passersby’s answers to “What does a culture of peace look like to you?”  Also on their sign was the related question, “How are you contributing to a culture of peace?” People from all walks of life would stop and share what was on their hearts and minds.  At times, theatre goers and actors, merchants and shoppers, local students and unhoused families would find themselves sitting together discussing the obstacles to and the values underlying peace.

Peace Ambassadors are just one of the teams that comprise the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, explained the ACPC Executive Director, David Wick, when we recently sat at the Bloomsbury Coffee House along with Joyce Segers (One of their Peace Ambassadors).  The ACPC listens to all sides of issues, networks, and, like “Circling on the Square”, it brings diverse people together to hear each others’ views. Wick described how the Peace Ambassadors knew they were making an impact. “Some people would pull their car to the curb, hop out and explain that they’ve been noticing the circle and awaiting a moment when they had time to stop; others would make return visits.” Their personal stories would unfold: A local professional talked about how they feared potential aggressive actions toward their business; a former attorney lamented that his economic views fell on deaf ears; a young married father was distressed about rent to income ratios. The Peace Ambassadors have found that listening is a powerful tool as it allows people to connect, to hear their own voice, and to get in touch with their own wisdom. Some business people have mentioned that this active listening seems to have added an element of respect and has perhaps contributed to the reduced aggression between housed and unhoused people”

The influence of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission is widespread. From one on one talking to encouraging political change. In early October, the ACPC held a forum for mayoral and city council candidates.  The values of accountability, inclusivity, and authenticity guided candidates to address solutions to problems instead of attacking opponents. During their Eleven Days for Peace (September 11 through 21), the ACPC held nightly vigils on the Plaza, each one addressing a shadow side of peace (addiction, racism, sex trafficking, etc.)  The speaking format set the stage for transmuting frustration and helplessness into compassion.  The energy of these public gatherings was electric; even without the benefit of being indoors, safe space was maintained. Both locals and visitors were magnetically drawn to the circles, one elderly gentleman even separated from his extended family as his curiosity and interest was so piqued. Some folks who remained outside the circle were moved to tears.  One participant whose anxiety was intensified by the vigil, engaged in distracting behavior.  As with all ACPC activities, compassion for this person’s angst was expressed.  Then the participant sang a most touching song and became calm.

Wick clarified that the ACPC is not a city commission. It is a public, citizen-run commission which has the flexibility to take on roles that the city and other NGOs can’t do.  Yet the ACPC is endorsed by the City Counsel, and some people with the ACPC meet weekly with Mayor John Stromberg discussing the development of a culture of peace.  The ACPC has roots in Pathways to Peace and the United Nations designated “Peace Messenger Initiative”.

If your own curiosity is piqued, consider attending an ACPC community meeting: 4 pm Wednesdays or the free Talking Circles at 11 am Tuesdays, all of which take place in their office at 33 First Street, Suite 1, Ashland (across from the Post Office).  For more information, go to www.ashlandcpc.org.   

Activity is Down, Prices are Up in the Rogue Valley

The latest statistic for home sales have come out, and they tell a slightly unsurprising story. At least for those of us in the housing market. And that is that while the median sales price is on the rise, the number of homes sold has declined over this some period of time last year. There are many ways to read stats, but this is how I look at it. Number of sales is down about 10% from this time last year. And the number of homes available is also down about 10%. I think there is a correlation there. Couple that with the days on market is down 13%, it tells me a story that there would be more sales if there were more houses for sale. Prices are up across Jackson County about 9% year over year. But I believe we are getting to a point where sellers need to be Image titlea little cautious to think that that trend will continue into 2017.

Wages are not rising 10% a year, so at some point there will be a leveling off of the value of homes that are affordable by the local buyer.

The one area that the stats show an increase in the number of units sold though is new construction. After many years of no construction, the demand for new homes is certainly there, and evident in the stats.

If you would like a more detailed set of statistics emailed to you, drop me a line at clientsupport@tenrealtygroup.com

Appraisals are slower and more expensive than ever. What’s up with that?

Why do you hire a Realtor? Because things change in the market ALL of the time.

It is what keeps it interesting for people like me who like change. Not all change,  ( I do not particularly care for loose change – I gotta jar for that)  but most change keeps things from getting dull and static.

So the latest issues we are having are with appraisals, and/or appraisers.

This is a function of a system in Oregon that makes getting licensed to be an appraiser very time consuming, expensive and difficult. And the regulations put on them by legislation what was passed in the wake of the financial meltdown of the mid 2000s, such as Dodd-Frank, made filling out the paperwork onerous, and put appraisal management companies in as middlemen who take a cut of the appraisers money.

The main hurdle is that appraisers must do an apprenticeship with an existing appraiser. But with the existing system, there is not incentive for an appraiser to take a new person under their wing. It basically just costs them more time, and there is no personal benefit. So at this time, it is my understanding that there are very few appraisers waiting to come into the system. Too much red tape, and not enough profit.

Add that to appraisers retiring, and business being very brisk at the moment, there aren’t enough people for the job. What's Up With Appraisals?

Which leads to 3 big things I am seeing.

1. The average appraisal in our area right now is out almost 4 weeks, and compared to other areas of the state that is actually good. If you are looking in Klamath County, it is closer to 8 weeks

2. Appraisers are cherry picking the easy appraisals, and passing on the more difficult ones. What appears to be happening with the difficult ones then is they fall to the bottom rung of appraisers who are so bad at their job that they can’t get hired unless no one else wants it. So the hardest appraisals are going to the least qualified appraisers.

3. Lenders are offering extra money (charged to buyers generally) to get their appraisal picked up quicker. So they add a Rush charge of a couple hundred bucks. But that just pushes out the buyers who are waiting their turn longer, and to compete they have to pay more money.

Okay, so that was just sort of complaining. What can we do about it is the question. Knowing that it takes 45-60 days to close a house with a loan is one thing. Added patience is needed.

Ordering the appraisal as quickly as possible. This actually hurts potential buyers, because they could pay for an appraisal on a house, then discover that the foundation is bad. I like to have inspections completed before spending the money on the appraisal, but that is getting harder to do in this market.

We as Realtors have been working on this issue with the legislature and the Appraisers board to try to solve if for a couple of year now.

But what we need are consumers who have been hurt by this challenge to complain to their legislators and work on getting a fix. Because as the appraisers keep retiring, this problem is just going to get worse.

 

Pokemon Though Town to Learn The Area

Have you been hearing the fanfare and craze that has been the Pokemon Go game?IMG_2729

I am finding it to be rather amusing. This game is based off of another game by Niantic (which is actually Google)  The other game is called Ingress, and is a location based game that is worldwide. It was the biggest game in the world that no one had ever heard of. It was a combination of geocaching and capture the flag.

One of the things you did when you played Ingress was you found places of art, worship, and places of historical interest and took pictures to submit to Ingress to become “portals”.

This was brilliant on the game makers part, because they got real world locations and pictures geotagged without having to go out and take the pictures themselves.

And it is this platform that they based the Pokemon Go game on.

Now what does this have to do with real estate you might ask?  Not too much. But it is a great way to get to know a new area. Because to play the game, you need to find all of these places of interest.

Even after having living in Ashland for 10 years, and the Rogue Valley for 15, when I started playing Ingress a couple of years ago I found all kinds of parks and statues and churches, etc…. that I didn’t have any idea where they were before, or even that they existed.

And when I travel to new towns, I play the game to get to see the details in the town that otherwise I miss. For instance my wife and I went to the Sundial Bridge in Redding and the botanical park there because we were playing this silly game. But that bridge is really cool, and I am glad I got a chance to see it.

And if you are in the Rogue Valley playing Pokemon Go…I can tell you where every portal in the valley is. So when we are looking at houses to buy…I’ll point them out so you can capture them, or fight imaginary creatures, or whatever it is one does in Pokemon Go.