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DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: Silver Linings?

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Do we deserve the president we get? And, as Alexis de Tocqueville once quipped, do we resemble our leaders? A troubling thought considering that Donald Trump has the temperament and syntax of a second-grade bully. Or, will opposition and adversity hone and clarify what is important and worthwhile in our lives and country?

We are on the brink of a new chapter in American history, and how that plays out at the White House and the U.S. Capitol will certainly be covered by CNN and FOX News, and the national newspapers. But the front lines for this new era will be in numerous cities and towns around America—from watching how steel mill towns in Pennsylvania survive, or don’t, new economic pressures; to considering whether sanctuary cities push back against new immigration policies and attitudes; and, closer to home, how regions like southern Oregon change and are affected.

In this issue, it is easy to see how these new tensions are already shaping up new ideas and policies here. In our News section, we have a report from a test voyage of an electric bus by Josephine Community Transit. It is certainly one small puzzle piece in the desperate fight to curb global warming. And, our Feature (page 9) asks various residents about how they are anticipating the new president.

In this issue, we also recognize the role that community plays. As the Trump administration had hammered on the ways in which people are different, it is important to consider the connections that form social networks and communities—and, our writer Jordan Marie Martinez checks in with the Brewery Hockey League, which includes four local breweries; BricktownE Brewing Company, Caldera, Walkabout Brewing Company, and Opposition Brewing Co. Although potentially competitors in business—and on the ice—it is important to recognize that they have chosen to find not the differences that separate them, but another way to come together. Yes, corny; but important to remember.

There are three wonderful reviews in our Food section. Our beer reviewer Charles Fischman drops in on the newly opened Common Block Brewing Company in downtown Medford. What I like most about this article is that he points out the irony that a building that once sold automobiles—the very means that “drove” people away from town centers and into the suburbs—now houses a pub, a place that pulls people together.

Our food reviewer Melissa Haskin, who has been an amazing addition to our staff, also files a pair of reviews on two restaurants, the newly opened Onyx for her main review and also Rogue Eats for her “Cheap Eats” column. While the restaurants are very different on the pocket book, they both represent something incredibly central to what makes America “great”; that is, the ability to pursue an individual dream. Both restaurants were opened by men who have worked throughout the region in various restaurants, but now have opened their own—and both are thriving.

In this issue, we also check in with film director Alex Cox, who lives in the area. Cox is a true artist, and has created clever, funny and challenging films; perhaps some of his best-known (at least by me) are a pair of early 80s punk-based motion pictures, Sid & Nancy, and Repo Man. Reading over the interview that our writer Fischman conducted with Cox, it was hard to not recall the 80s; a brusk political era, but one that saw a remarkable artistic pushback for social issues from gay rights to environmental awareness, and a decade filled with films standing up to bullies (Stand By Me, Revenge of the Nerds, Breakfast Club). Yes, adversity makes for great art, and already our country’s artists are making their voices heard, from the cast of Hamilton lecturing Vice-President Mike Pence to Meryl Streep going toe-to-toe with the president.

We are bracing for a new political era, but we are also hopeful because we see already see why America is great—because it has individuals and communities are creative, caring and kind as southern Oregon.   

 

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