An innovative neighborhood in Medford

Our intent is to build a prototype community of permanent, affordable homes in the Rogue Valley that will address the concerns of fire, inadequate low-cost housing, and multi-generational financial inequity.

Approximately 84 owner-occupied homes will be built on a 6.1-acre site in Medford and will include a community center with common area facilities for services and childcare, and also an outdoor play area and community gardens. In addition, there will be a resident facilitator living on site. This partnership model and community- design component will serve as a replicable prototype for community-based design across the United States.

It is radically innovative in four ways:

Fire Resistant Construction

Since the middle-ages, houses have been built by cutting down forests and slicing those trees into wood sticks that can be nailed together. Alternatives such as manufactured homes are now in short supply, also combustible, and include toxic materials. With the ever-increasing threat of wildfire, lumber shortages, and ecosystem threats from over-logging, there is an urgent need to look at new and creative ways to provide replacement housing. Otherwise, housing reflects what they say about insanity: doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

The 2020 Almeda Wildfire tragically destroyed the homes and worldly possessions of hundreds of financially vulnerable families in the Rogue Valley, further establishing the need for fire resistant construction. Current 21st century construction technology – including computer-aided design, solar panels, and on-site 3-D concrete printing – allows for residential development that will result in a better house, built more quickly, delivered at a lower cost, and most importantly, fire resistant.

Accessible Home Ownership

In the United States, home ownership has historically been the primary route to investing and saving for the future, elevating people to a higher standard of living and building generational wealth. This route has been blocked for those who have no option other than to live in rental units (building wealth of others) or mobile homes (that depreciate in value). Without access to a financial kick-start, they have been saddled with high monthly expenses instead of being able to invest in their own future. Owning a house that appreciates in value can create a foundation for upward mobility for those trapped in a cycle of generational poverty. In a country as wealthy as the United States, everyone should have access to the opportunity of home ownership.

This development would allow families who lost their homes in the fire to have a new start on life and an opportunity at the pride and financial security of home ownership.

Community-Driven Design

Most housing developments are designed by people with technical design expertise but little understanding of those who will be living in the houses and their specific needs.

This project shifts the perspective on the role of expert – from those focused on selling homes to those who will be living in them. By placing the creative and decision-making process for the development in the hands of the community, the utility and functionality of these homes will be dramatically increased. And, unlike 98% of the homes in the U.S., the final design will be detailed by professional architects, to ensure that the homes will be charming and that all building code and safety standards are met.

Permanent Affordability

New Spirit Village is partnered with Proud Ground, a not-for-profit based in Portland, Oregon. Proud Ground is the largest Community Land Trust in the Pacific Northwest and will oversee the homeowner’s management and real estate of their neighborhood.  For many families, homeownership represents the American Dream and how most households build wealth. But generations of families with low-incomes and a disproportionate number of Households of Color have been locked out of homeownership.  Founded in 1999, Proud Ground is working to change that by utilizing a Land Trust Model to unlock homeownership for many who believed this dream was out of reach.  These efforts have helped over 400 families become first time homeowners. The Land Trust Model protects the neighborhoods by ensuring working families can afford to thrive in their community, while maintaining home affordability for future generations.

Who Are We?

The Thalden Foundation is a philanthropic not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation based in Ashland, Oregon, directed by Kathryn and Barry Thalden, who are both retired and moved to Ashland in 2012. Their lifelong commitment to building community is reflected in the careers and current volunteer roles:

Kathryn serves on the Board of Directors of Parker House, a transitional residential shelter for women and children in Ashland. Kathryn´s background includes founding and operating a city planning and landscape architectural firm in Kansas City, and, later, was founding minister of the Unity Church in Green Valley in Henderson, Nevada.

Barry serves on the Board of Trustees of Southern Oregon University and the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra. Barry´s background is as an architect that founded, and for 43 years led, what became known as a nationally known architectural firm, with offices in St. Louis, Tulsa, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Barry´s experience includes designing tens of thousands of creative residential units from coast to coast.

Over the past 9 years, The Thalden Foundation has funded a wide variety of projects in the Rogue Valley. While the Thaldens prefer to support the community anonymously, some of their projects have been public by necessity, including: The World Peace Monument and The Thalden Pavilion on the Southern Oregon University campus, the establishment and annual support of the Flower Basket program in downtown Ashland, large murals at the Ashland Emergency Food Bank and along Calle Guanajuato in Ashland, as well as a large mural in Ashland´s Sister City of Guanajuato, Mexico. 

The Thalden Foundation is interested in building this new community and providing charitable contributions that would fund portions of the project, such as: design costs, down payment reductions, community center, laundry, community kitchen, and a community park with playground and gardens.

The Intention of NewSpirit Village

We are not only interested in replacing the previous housing. We are interested in changing people’s lives by creating safer housing with long-term benefits – in a more attractive, livable, secure, and stable neighborhood. Ultimately, that will also benefit the city and the region.

Our intention is to create a better-housing demonstration neighborhood in the Rogue Valley. We hope to partner with forward-thinking community members that share our visions and will work together with us to make this happen.

The Thalden Foundation - New Spirit Village