The Essence of Community

If someone asked you what makes Ashland so special, what would you say? Because the houses are relatively expensive, the lots are not as big, and the parking stinks. Of course not. You’d likely share that given its small population; it’s packed with culture, diversity, life and love.

We often find ourselves showing property to people who fell in love with Ashland decades ago but just weren’t in a position to move here until now. Many are relocating from bigger cities, trying to escape the hustle and bustle but not willing to give up the 5 star dining or intellectual conversations. Little did they know that truly investing in this community would be worth its weight in gold and that investment is much deeper than purchasing a property.

Recently our community suffered a great loss when a well respected and deeply admired police officer passed away unexpectedly. The support and compassion for his family was nothing short of breathtaking. Our streets filled with community members paying their respects to a “family” that made the ultimate sacrifice. It’s no secret we have a soft spot for law enforcement and in a day and age where you tend to only hear the unsavory things, it’s moments like this that remind us how beautiful communities can be when they band together and support each other.

Last weekend, the Rotary Club of Ashland Lithia Springs, along with Dyan and I, and several other local business owners, participated in their annual CrabFest. It’s a huge fundraiser that’s proceeds go to providing scholarships for local middle and high school students. The rooms were packed, the donations overflowing, and a fun time was had by all. My favorite part of the night is when the auctioneer solicits for scholarship donations. It’s an opportunity to truly give to the community, with nothing tangible being received in return. There were countless gifts ranging from $50 to $5,000 – the generosity in that room was palpable.

Having been a member of this community since 1994, I have learned to deeply appreciate its versatility. It welcomes the most liberal as well as the most conservative. It invites creative thinking and open discussion. It can also be maddening to some and refreshing to others. I have found the longer one spends in Ashland the deeper in love one falls with all it has to offer. One could argue the true essence of a community can be described in one word: ASHLAND.