In an unstable world, Mayor John Stromberg said he believes Ashland needs to become more resilient and self-sufficient.

In an unstable world, Mayor John Stromberg said he believes Ashland needs to become more resilient and self-sufficient.

His comments came during his annual State of the City address on Tuesday.

Stromberg said the city government should develop an energy plan that addresses climate change, and it should publicize the many things it already does to promote sustainability.

"As a community, Ashland has been involved with sustainability for decades. Why not take credit for what we're doing and use it as an additional way to attract visitors and businesses to our town?" he said.

Stromberg said the city government and community should encourage local food production and food security by supporting markets, community gardens, special water rates for food production, municipal composting and other steps.

He voiced support for matching local capital with local investment needs.

Although the City Council has been criticized by some for spending money on water, sewage and transportation plans, Stromberg said planning is necessary so that the community doesn't get hit with huge, unexpected infrastructure maintenance and development costs.

He said the City Council will be grappling with the complex issue of homelessness this year. Ashland bans camping on public property. It lacks a formal homeless shelter.

"Is it right for the city to ban camping altogether if some sort of facilities aren't available for those who don't have a place to sleep? And, what can we do about panhandlers who are verbally aggressive toward visitors, residents and workers in the downtown area, but manage to stay within the constitutional protections of the First Amendment?" Stromberg asked.

Financial issues facing the city government include dealing with the cost of employee health care and retirement benefits, and preparing for instability in the world economy.

Stromberg lauded Ashland not only for its quality of life, but its "quality of community."

He praised the many volunteers and community groups at work in town, as well as the city employees who provide basic daily necessities such as water that most people take for granted.

Stromberg encouraged residents to respect each other's differences and points of view, and look for ways to use those differences to make the community more resilient, creative and resourceful.

"I believe what I have described in this address is our opportunity for 2011 and beyond, and I invite us all to make Ashland a town that increasingly creates its own future," he said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.