Saturday, Sept. 16, was a fun and exciting day at 107 West 1st St. in Phoenix! Lovingly dubbed "The Pollination Place," this office is the new home of Beyond Toxics, Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, and Center for Creative Change — and we hosted an open house to celebrate! The 100 or so folks who turned out (in spite of the lingering smoke) had a buzzing good time!

We were inspired by remarks from state Rep. Pam Marsh, Phoenix Mayor Chris Luz, and Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics. And we all enjoyed the wonderful music by The Maybe Sometimes, which provided a lovely backdrop to good conversations and community connections.

The Open House provided the opportunity to welcome and introduce Beyond Toxics to Southern Oregon. The Pollination Place will serve as a satellite office for Beyond Toxics so they can lend their support to local organizations working on similar issues and offer resources to concerned individuals, businesses and other organizations working to create a sustainable Rogue Valley. The office will also provide meeting space for community events and educational opportunities.

Based in Eugene, Beyond Toxics is a statewide environmental justice nonprofit working to reform chemical policies in Oregon and protect front-line workers and communities from toxic harm. Some of you may remember their initiative earlier this year to pass a statewide bill that would have restricted the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to only certified and licensed applicators, thus protecting our pollinators, water, landscapes and food security.

Recently I was reminded of neonicotinoids’ ubiquity in our environment. Two friends just shared their encounters with neonicotinoids: one was in a private home and the other in a garden center. Popularized by non-stop advertising and promotion by the pesticide manufacturers (Bayer and Ortho), neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, are available in multiple formulae (imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, acetamiprid and dinotefuran), all of which are toxic to pollinators, earthworms and fish. These systemic pesticides enter the plant cells and cannot be washed off, making the entire plant, including the pollen and nectar, toxic to life.

Saturday was also a fundraiser for Pollinator Project Rogue Valley’s first-ever Rogue Buzzway map! A project to put Southern Oregon on the map (literally), the Buzzway will map public and private pollinator-friendly spaces in the Rogue Valley — gardens, monarch waystations, farms and more. We would like to thank Ollie Bucolo, a GIS Technician at SOU, for his efforts and support to create our initial map. My next article will be devoted to the Buzzway and provide the criteria and process to get on the map.

We are excited about the possibility that this shared office space — The Pollination Place — brings to the Valley. Together we will be a resource to help create a more sustainable Valley for pollinators and people alike! We invite you to drop by 107 W. 1st St. in Phoenix to connect with Beyond Toxics, Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, and Center for Creative Change. Office hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made a donation or a purchase to help support our work! And a big thank-you goes to these businesses who showed us a lot of love and support for our Open House and Buzzway Fundraiser (please show them a little love with your purchases!):

Rogue Creamery, Ashland's own Shop'N Kart, Medford Food Co-op, Restoration Seeds, Valley View Orchard, Lakota Farm, Organicos Bakery, Summit Beverage, Wandering Roots Farm, and Goodwin Creek Gardens, and Silver Springs Nursery.

Also a special thank-you to the city of Phoenix, the Bellview Grange, the Jacksonville Community Center, Peggy Elterman, Eleyah Knight, NatureLee Inspired Nursery, Cascade Girl Organization and Catie Faryl of Center for Creative Change for their contributions.

And thank you to the artists who shared their bee-autiful pollinator art work with us: Pam Haunschild, Deb VanPoolen, Annette Trujillo, Laura Bee Ferguson, Mark Lunn, Catie Faryl and Judy Grillo.

— Kristina Lefever is a member of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, Bee City USA Ashland, and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association.