Talent woman plans to create walking map

TALENT — A woman's recovery routine for health issues will lead to a map that details walking routes in town.

Elizabeth Zwick moved to Talent from the Applegate Valley in September 2009. After suffering ulcerative colitis and undergoing surgery, she began walking as part of her recuperation in February last year and the walks raised her interest in the town.

"Walking has become an important part of my recovery," she says. "Talent is a very walkable town, things are close together.

"But I wanted to know more about what Talent had in terms of walkability and what Talent had to offer."

Her curiosity led to the concept of an illustrated map that may also include historical spots, artists' studios and other points of interest, says Zwick, an artist who has illustrated children's books.

Zwick began to question others about routes in town and beyond a couple of months ago.

"I'm very much in the collecting information stage," she says. "I have been delighted at how interested people seem to be."

As a child, Zwick enjoyed exploring trails. When she lived in the Applegate, her home was one-third of a mile from where she parked her car, and her art studio was another half-mile up a trail. Walking became even more important when Zwick decided to give up her car.

"My family was concerned that I was not safe driving because pain would kick in at odd moments," she says. "That has made walking an even more significant part of my life right now."

Zwick's work has the encouragement of the Together For Talent Committee, on which she serves. Mayor Bill Cecil wants to see greater transportation connectivity through alternatives. He sees Zwick's work dovetailing with city efforts.

"She's taken on a wonderful project," he says. "She's got us thinking about it."

City officials and Zwick say they also want to see new walking routes.

In town, she'd like a better connection between Highway 99 and downtown. A small walkway beside Wagner Creek at the old bridge on Talent Avenue might be extended to the highway. A route to Bear Creek other than sidewalks along West Valley View Road would be desirable, she says.

"On a hot summer day, when you are trying to get down to the cool of Bear Creek, it can be rather bleak on Valley View," she says.

Both the city comprehensive plan and a parks master plan show tentative trail routes.

"They show connection between major arteries, but those are usually acquired through the development process or actual purchase," says Planning Director Mark Knox. "We hope to partner up ... to make those connections. They first have to be mapped and have efforts on the property owner's part to want to participate."

The city included funds in next year's budget to hire a part-time staffer with mapping skills. Part of the position's duties would be to map potential trails, Knox says.

Overlays for Zwick's map have been created by hand based on a master map. Later she will use computers. She hasn't set a deadline for publishing the map.

"I'm hoping for a full-color, somewhat cartoonish map with little images of features," she says. "Something that people who have visitors might want to set on the bedside table."

The artist hopes to secure funds from donations, grants or the city to publish the map. Those with information for the map may contact Zwick at 541-499-2264 or lizzwick@yahoo.com.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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