Tiller for Sale: Dreaming of owning our home town

Tiller for Sale: Dreaming of owning our home town

A family friend recently forwarded me the Oregonian article on “Tiller for Sale.” I chatted with him about how Miel and I have been dreaming about creating an eco-village resort there. His response: “I’m there!”

Tiller happens to be where we went to Kindergarten, before our parents moved down river to their home in Days Creek, where they’ve now lived for over thirty years. They had moved there from California in the late sixties as the first wave of back-to-the-land hippies.

Last summer, when the sale first came to our attention, we fantasized about turning the elementary school into a McMenamin’s-like hotel and cafe (we even took this cute selfie of us in front of the for sale sign;-). We dreamed about dotting the hillside with tiny houses, both for workers and guests. Our dream included providing stellar wifi so that young entrepreneurs from Portland and San Fransisco could come “retreat” to write the book they’ve always dreamed of or just deepen their meditation practice in a unique eco-village community. We smiled at the thought of attracting families on their way to Crater Lake, one of our favorite places on the planet. We naturally wanted everything we be solar and generate enough power for the rest of the community, include a small farm for food, and essentially become a Mecca for yippies.

Tiller is the “town” where our parents got married, back in 1979, after our mom had lived off the grid for a decade in the nearby mountains. They had a winter solstice wedding at the Tiller Tavern, complete with floral headband and poet blouses. When had they tried to be married at the one church in town, they were turned down by the conservative pastor, who wouldn’t marry them because our mother had been divorced. Our Dad was offended, but not surprised. It was the quintessential hippie wedding, with most of the guests earning their living from either planting trees or harvesting marijuana.

The times haven’t changed that much for Tiller, although there has been peace between the back-to-land-hippies who are now retirees and the generational farmers and loggers. The man in the video, Kevin Kehoe, is a dear family friend. His wife recently retired from the Tiller Ranger Station, where she was I believe the first female silviculturist and also served on the school board for over a decade.

From talking with local family friends, there is both excitement and a bit of fear around the idea of the town being sold to an unknown developer. There has a been a small wave of younger generation community members, especially those who want to invest in the new cannabis market. There’s also very popular fire lookout Airbnb on the ridge over from where we grew up that got in Sunset magazine last year. Even though there are just 250 people living in the woods around the “town,” most of them have been there for decades and enjoy living in a town that just a bend in the river.

I’m a little saddened myself to see the sale getting so much publicity, as Miel and I had hoped that the land would sit on the market until we managed to scrape together enough funders. Since we don’t have four million sitting around, we talked about doing a crowd-source funding campaign, but even that takes a ton of prep work. And when my Hubby was a complete naysayer about the project, thinking it way more risk than reward, I did feel like my dreams were dashed.

Yet, I’m writing this in the hopes that there is some benevolent funder out there who would love to invest in our dream of transforming Tiller into a sustainable eco-village. At the very least, I hope that whoever buys the land respects the community and is able to develop it without destroying the peace and beauty of the South Umpqua River and it’s forests.

It would certainly be a dream come true to see a new generation of yippies transform this beautiful paradise into a truly sustainable community for generations to come…please get in touch if you’ve got $5M ready to invest in our dream. 🙂

Peace and Love,

Darcy Rose

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