As I sit here remembering the hours I've put into creating On The Rise Box, the pitch I gave in college, the help I've received from my community, and the many conversations I've had with twenty+ businesses; I know today is not just a beginning for On The Rise Box, but it is the launch and birth for more inspiration and creative endeavors to come to Medford.
I attended a meeting a month ago in Ashland, Oregon where an economic developer, who assisted in Bend's economic growth, spoke about how to create "Economic Ecosystems" and that being the key for city prosperity. During the presentation, there was a question that was asked, which made me jump from my seated chair (unable to contain myself), that stumped the wise fellow, as it addressed the problems, pain, and heartache that Bend now faces because of their growth. The question was ultimately: "Yeah economic growth is good, but how can we grow where it doesn't cause people to be pushed out of their own city, or create mass issues with housing, or cause damage to the infrastructure of the city?" To this, the economist simply confessed that he did not know how to do it, yet reaffirmed that creating an Economic Ecosystem is great!
I don't confess to having it all figured out, and that is why I constantly affirm and appreciate my community; but I believe that for us to grow and build-up as a town, we must first create strength within our own existing town. If we grow and Medford becomes more attractive, more people will move here, which increases the size and diversity of our working, skilled, knowledgable, passion, creative, and serving pools. This is good for a town and is a byproduct of growth, but to minimize gentrification, people being pushed out, housing market issues, low job opportunities, and lack of access to income, we must acknowledge who is here, what is here, and why we are here; and then accept it, affirm it, appreciate it, strengthen it, empower it, and create the foundation for what we can build a thriving city upon.
This is what I feel exists behind On The Rise Box; the opportunity to foster and support the development of a strong network within our town. This is why I hope that tonight is just the launch of another business in Medford, but the tidal wave of inspiration for our residents to engage the changing of the culture of our city and see it reach the potential we all know exists here!