Tuesday, September 8, 2009


A city with 8 times the population of Ashland, perched at the altitude of the Mt. Ashland ski area.

Founded 66 years before the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock.

That fought for independence from its European masters 66 years before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.

With eight active mines that supply 80% of the world's silver.

Where police wear Level 4 body armor, carry automatic rifles and salute the Mayor; and new laws are posted on the wall of City Hall to the accompaniment of a raucous bugle and drum corps.

And on warm summer nights bands of athletic young guitar and mandolin players lead dancing, singing, laughing crowds through narrow twisting cobbled alleyways, past blocky apartments in primary colors, public building of pink and gray Cantera stone and plazas and outdoor cafes everywhere.

This is your sister, Ashland, for the past forty years...built on increasing collaboration between our universities, a newly signed agreement with OSF and the Cervantes Festival, Rotary-sponsored, self-help housing funded by $70,000 raised in a single event last month, an Ashland Room in the official cultural center and a children's library with english language books; and graciously descending Paseo Ashland, unveiled just last Wednesday, with construction funding facilitated by UNESCO's World Heritage Cities program. Plus a hundred ceremonial moments with a thousand official speeches, gifts, plaques, kisses on one check, back pats and handshakes; gifts when arriving, gifts when departing, gifts for the fun of it; music, dancing, poetry...

At the end of each day, and the beginning, open-hearted, convivial, eminently sociable strangers who become friends. The foundation is persona a persona, people to people.

And where is it going now, what William Stafford calls 'the parade of our mutual lives'? It is being lived by the children of our 79 bi-communal marriages. But how will we sisters shape it for the new world that's being born?

Guanajuato-Ashland at 40.