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Letter to the Editor: Living treasures

To the editor:

One of the many benefits of small town life is the presence of “living treasures,” individuals and enterprises that rise to the occasion of community needs and honor us with the bounty of their expertise and leadership. We are their opportunity and they are our mentors.

They’ve put The Dalles on the map in music and the arts, sports programs, ecology, education, spirituality, entrepreneurship and social welfare.

We’ve each been touched by someone/thing who lives among us selflessly.

This season I’d like to acknowledge one “living treasure” we’ve lost: The Planetree Health Resource Center, the marvelous library that was once in the yellow Victorian at the Fourth and Court. Within walking distance of St. Vincent De Paul to the west and the Salvation Army to the east, the PHRC was uniquely situated to provide information, comfort and hope to those unschooled in the way of medicine, symptom and diagnosis, self-care, alternative and allied therapies.

Free and open to the public, the PHRC was an empowering force, not just for survival, but for teaching quality of life.

The brainchild of Mark Scott, former CEO of Mid-Columbia Medical Center, the PHRC was a very public face of MCMC’s Planetree medical philosophy; patient-centered, holistic, collaborative and relational. It was assembled from scratch by Librarian Michele Spatz and Assistant Linda Stahl in 1992 and continued under the leadership of Stahl and Assistant Molly Hamlin from 2008 until its closure in 2017. Masterful librarians researched for us, analyzed, displayed collections, taught and engaged us.

Founding participants of the Gorge Link and Sage library systems, we could hang out in the living rooms with books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, or take them home. With their leadership, volunteer recruitment and public input, we were gifted the Fall and Spring Health Lecture Series (24 years), Go Red for Women’s Heart Health (13 years), Healthy Summer Story Time (since 2006, then partnered with Wasco County library in 2011), blood pressure screenings and extensive outreach.

The PHRC enhanced the vibrancy of our downtown. It was a much needed and welcoming public space for readings, gathering, community organizing and brainstorming. 

Last spring MCMC announced it could no longer sustain the library. Though reassured its research and information function would continue in some online “paperless” form, it appears to have been abandoned altogether.

Perhaps we could all make a collective wish and hope for its return. In the meantime, all PHRC books were donated to the community. These are the tangible gifts that keep on giving, available to be read and discussed. But there is no Michele or Linda or Molly in the thick of downtown. And no holiday lights decking the halls at Fourth and Court.

Amy Marshall

The Dalles


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