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DailyTidings.com
  • Lotus Rising is closing center in downtown Medford

  • About nine months after it opened, Lotus Rising Project's resource center at the old Woolworth Building in downtown Medford will close.
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  • About nine months after it opened, Lotus Rising Project's resource center at the old Woolworth Building in downtown Medford will close.
    But the support organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth will continue presenting many of its programs as it had before.
    Lotus Rising had hoped to offer youth a safe haven for relaxation and games, community education, leadership skill development and work on its gay-straight alliance. But Executive Director Kathy Bates said organizers realized it didn't fit in a downtown business environment and was too hard to access for a demographic that's scattered all over the valley.
    "We followed the vision of the original youth founders, a place to hang, affiliate, access resources and use a huge library," said Bates. "But the word from youth of late was they felt the location in a downtown business building in Medford was not user-friendly ... it was more like an office space."
    Lotus Rising was started a decade ago as a force for youth empowerment, social change and equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, said Bates.
    It became a nonprofit organization in 2008 and opened in the Woolworth Building in October 2013. Board president Julian Spalding said the relatively little traffic to the space did not justify keeping it up on the organization's small budget.
    Lotus Rising will continue as it has for years without a physical space, offering such programs as Not Straight, Not Sure, which will meet twice a month, Youth Empowerment Theater, which will start up performances in the fall, and Southern Oregon Gay Straight Alliance Support Network, which will continue in Crater, Grants Pass and Ashland high schools in the fall.
    "The future looks fine," Spalding said.
    Asked whether the center had any impact in its short life, Spalding replied, "Virtually none. It's possibly the poor location ... or it could be that youth connect now with texting and Facebook."
    The organizations will do focus groups in the near future to nail down the causes of the lack of interest in the site, he said.
    Lotus Rising has a library of 3,500 volumes, which it inherited a few years ago from the Abdill-Ellis Center after it closed. It is looking for a location where the books may be easily accessed by the public. It is considering area public and college libraries, said Spalding.
    "Be assured the closing of the resource center is not impacting the delivery of our programs and services," he said in an e-newsletter. "We were a virtual organization before opening the center and we will continue to be that now and in the future."
    People with leads on a library space are asked to call Spalding at 541-301-3616.
    — John Darling
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