Best Places for Oregon Creatives: Medford

The Holly Theatre in Medford.

Sounding more like a biography coming out of Silicon Valley than Medford, Alfonso Moreno left high school early for a job with a tech company. He started with Zeal, a web and mobile product design firm. Moreno, 20, began as an intern but now manages public-facing experiences for the company, while also coding for mobile and web projects.

“We’re spearheading the effort to grow the tech community in Medford,” Moreno said. Once a month, Zeal hosts a Takeover Tuesday, in which the Zeal pays to take over a downtown business for an hour and give away that company’s goods during that period. Think ice cream, beer and coffee. “Personally I’ve noticed a ton of growth and new faces in Medford,” Moreno said.

Known more for pears than iPads, Medford has been bubbling with new creative tech events. Mica Cardillo, a self-taught coder, sought peers in problem solving and software engineering. In 2012, he helped launch a Rogue Hack Lab, a group of locals who meet at the Medford library to share ideas, research, build, deconstruct, mentor and learn around a makers collaborative model. “Overall what we’re interested in is creating a cultural asset for the people who are in tech and want to be in a rural area,” said Cardillo, 37.

Food finds its creative outlet every Thursday and Saturday from March to November at the Rogue Valley Growers Market—berries, stone fruit, soaps, herbs, oils and baked goods galore. This Southern Oregon city of nearly 79,000 people is surrounded by hectares of prime farming soil, including the headquarters for the mail-order bounty of Harry & David.

The home base of one the nation’s top auto dealerships—Lithia Motors—anchors a downtown block off Bear Creek.
New restaurants and breweries have also joined the scene in the past couple of years, improving Medford’s overall social and culinary appeal. The Ram Brewery, Common Block Brewing, Larks Restaurant at the Inn at The Commons are just a few of these.

Key Creative Resources:
Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts
Rogue Gallery & Art Center
Medford Carnegie Library
Historical Artists from Medford:
Ty Burrell, actor (Modern Family); Lisa Rinna, actress; Mark Ryden, artist
Don’t Miss:
A tour of Harry & David and dinner at Lark Restaurant
Median Home Price:

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