A year ago, the Almeda Fire raced up the Bear Creek Greenway from north Ashland to south Medford. More than 2,500 residences and almost 200 businesses were destroyed. Thousands of Rogue Valley residents were uprooted and traumatized as the community came together in significant ways to help one another and heal. That healing continues.
To mark the anniversary of the Almeda Fire, a group of local community-builders and organizations including The Hearth, Talent Maker City, and De La Raiz – with support from the cities of Talent, Phoenix, Ashland and Medford – have created an interactive, participatory commemoration that begins tomorrow, Wednesday, September 8, and runs through the end of September.
The Almeda Commemoration Walk is a self-guided, reflective, bilingual set of activities placed along eight (8) miles of the Bear Creek Greenway. Participants are invited to walk, bike, or drive to four points of reflection designed to help local residents process the past year. The commemorative walk follows the route of the Almeda fire:
Beginning at Wagner’s Arena in Ashland to,
Lynn Newbry Park in Talent to,
Blue Heron Park in Phoenix
Ending at Coyote Trails Nature Center in Medford
Each corresponding “station” will have links to audio meditations in both Spanish and English accessible from a mobile phone. At various points, those who travel the Greenway path will be invited to use their phones to connect to special performances to commemorate the anniversary. For those unable to access the Greenway, you can participate in the meditative activities and view performances online at www.AlmedaWalk.com
Erica Ledesma, Jocksana Corona, and Niria Garcia envisioned the Almeda Commemorative Walk as a way to encourage healing and unite the four communities affected by the fire.
Erica Ledesma is a local artist, community organizer and the Latinx Program Coordinator for The Hearth. She is the founder of De La Raiz, a project dedicated to gathering and telling the stories of the Latinx communities of Southern Oregon. Jocksana Corona is a counselor at Ontrack Recovery, an advocate for the undocumented, and long term resident of Southern Oregon. She and her family suffered the loss of their home in the Almeda Fire. Niria Alicia is a Xicana Indígena community organizer, educator, storykeeper and human rights advocate devoted to protecting the sacredness of Mother Earth. She was born and raised in the Rogue Valley and is the proud daughter of immigrant farmworker and forestry workers.