Remembering Ron Fox, Learning from Paradise California, Inspired by Sid & Karen DeBoer

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I put out a post asking for photos of the fire with permission to re-print and I was blown away at the response. After watching how the Akpan’s live streamed as they fought a losing battle against the fire to an audience of 10, I realized that everything is different now. The number of people that like our posts, or read our stories, or share our content isn’t relevant. We are all influencers. After the fire the Akpan family has been written about and interviewed more than any other family I know, about the fire and how they fought it and eventually lost their home. They are global influencers. Hopefully, as the west is burning, people in Washington DC will see that we have serious problems here on the west coast that we need to find solutions for. 

I added this “final word” section, because there are so many stories I didn’t get to and will add as separate articles on the site. I hesitate to do this, because you have been trained to read the journal cover to cover when it’s published. I see the stats. I can tell. Last month I started trickling articles out on social and will try that again. I’m trying to reach a wider audience and feed content all month as opposed to just in the journal. This is going to take a while to migrate from a “print” publication that came out once a month, to a living website with content that is published in a timely manner. This became very apparent as we went into COVID lockdown and now with the fire. 

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So what didn’t I get to tell you about yet? 

Ron Fox passed away this month. I met him many years ago when he ran SOREDI. He was a big man, with a quiet personality. He led by listening and working hard in the background. I interviewed his friend, Steve Vincent and will get a bio from SOREDI soon so that I can share his life and accomplishments. I also learned that the economic leaders in our communities tend to come from the utility companies. This fact fascinated me and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is. Ron retired from SOREDI a few years ago and I had not seen him since, but I heard he enjoyed fishing as much as he could the last couple of years. Leaders do retire and communities do continue to thrive without them, but they are missed and never forgotten, because of their work, love and passion for the communities they served. 

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I interviewed the folks behind RebuildParadise.org. Charles lost his home in the Paradise fire two years ago and I wanted to learn from him what he has done to rebuild the community and if he had learned lessons he wished he knew when he started. Paradise lost 18,000 homes and we lost 2,300+ so the scale seems off, but loss is loss. They have a two year head start on the rebuild and I’ll share what I learned from him and his team. It’s fascinating. 

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Sid and Karen Deboer, of Lithia Motors fame, started a foundation a couple of years ago and during the fire they quietly offered cash grants to people. They spent through the money they set aside very rapidly and it got me thinking. How do you set up a personal foundation and how does it work? Do you have to be very wealthy or can anyone do it? So I started down the path of creating one for Dena and I and I’ll share with you the process as we go through it. 

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The Southern Oregon Business Journal is my side-hustle. It’s one of many. I hope to be able to retire someday and teach classes, provide tech support to seniors and publish the journal as I travel the state, the country and the world. 

Thanks to all for your outpouring of love and support to our neighbors after the fire. You inspire me to be a better human everyday. 

Until next month,

Jim

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