Friday, June 15, 2007

Making Music While Cleaning Up

When asked what most people might not know about him, or would find surprising, Tim Church replies, "Most people who see me at the recycling center don't know I'm a musician, and most people who know I'm a musician don't know I work at the recycling center!"

Of course, following this interview, that's less likely to be the case.

DT: You wear a couple very different hats. When you were a kid, what did you envision doing when you grew up?

Tim: I was always interested in music, and knew I wanted to play the guitar but never dreamed I could make a living at it. After high school, I spent five plus years in college--changing my major nearly every semester. Later on, living in Santa Cruz, I found I could make a living with music after all.

DT: How long have you been in Ashland, and what brought you here?

Tim: I've been here since 1983. While living in Santa Cruz, I had a longtime romance with a woman living in Moscow, Idaho. She didn't like Santa Cruz, thought it too hedonistic! And Idaho was too cold for me. Wanting a bit more consistency in our togetherness we met in the middle. Lucinda and I have been married for twenty-one years now.

DT: How did you come to be working at the recycling center?

Tim: I'd helped Lucinda with a couple different recycling centers she'd managed in Idaho and Washington, and one day, while at Ashland Sanitary paying my bill, I overheard talk about the need to hire someone to work at the new Ashland recycling center. I said, "I'll do it." I've been here 17 years. It works well with my life as a musician.

DT: What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work at the center? And what are your thoughts about recycling?

Tim: I really enjoy the people, being by the creek, having my dog by my side, and working outside.

I enjoy the freebox dynamics. It's actually kind of famous. I often hear comments like, "We're on our way from L.A. to Seattle, and had to stop and check out this awesome freebox we've heard about!" All kinds of people utilize the freebox: mothers and kids, homeless people, grandparents, people who drive expensive cars ....

As far as recycling, it's a good thing to do. It's hard to change the world, but if you work on your little corner of it, doing what you can, it all adds up.

DT: Could you briefly clarify what the center is currently accepting?

Tim: Cardboard, tin, aluminum, glass, plastic — all #s but no clam shells or plastic bags, waste paper — including newspaper and cereal boxes. We also accept compact fluorescent lightbulbs and, unofficially, styrofoam peanuts and plastic bubble wrap — if clean, in good condition, and separated from all other recyclables.

DT: You've also found a way to tie your concern for animal welfare into your work at the recycling center.

Tim: My wife and I are volunteers at the animal shelter, and members of FOTAS (Friends of the Animal Shelter). We have fostered and found homes for around two hundred dogs, and a few cats, in the past 15 years. We've recently stopped fostering, but I still take an adoptable dog from the Jackson County Animal Shelter to the recycling center almost every week. Dogs are good people. But please folks, get your pets spayed and neutered. The statistics say that one unspayed female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in six years!

DT: In addition to the shelter dogs you bring in, you also bring in your own dog. Was Huggy Bear originally a shelter dog?

Tim: We've had Huggy Bear for about eight years. I brought him from the shelter in the hopes he would get adopted. He was adopted one day and brought back the next because he was such a pain in the ass. So my wife and I adopted him. He was still a pain in the ass, but has mellowed over the years. His name is Huggy Bear because when we adopted him he looked like a bear and would stand on his hind legs and hug us.

DT: Now, more about that other hat you wear. The one you're most passionate about. Musician.

Tim: I've been playing guitar for about forty years, quite a few different styles. I play solo, in several different jazz groups, and with the Rock/Klezmer band — Jerry Attrick & The Pacemakers. My first gigs when I came to Ashland were at Chateaulin and the Jacksonville Inn. I still play solo guitar at Chateaulin — on Thursdays, and also play at Amuse on Fridays, and at Standing Stone on Saturdays. I also play at several local wineries, and at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, car dealerships ... I play everything from Bach and Broadway, to Brazil and beyond. I love all of it.

DT: Anything else you're up to, or would like to be doing?

Tim: I enjoy working in the garden with my wife, reading, and travel. If I won the lottery, I wouldn't buy a new car or anything, I'd just travel more. It's a big world out there.

DT: What is your biggest fear?

Tim: Doing interviews. Just kidding. I sometimes fear that humanity on this planet is comparable to the people on the Titanic. The poor countries are in steerage, and the industrialized countries are in first class. Martinis in hand, we're heading for disaster. Global warming, water shortages, overpopulation, wars over diminishing resources...the warnings are there, but mostly we're ignoring them.

DT: What would you recommend we do? If you could wave a wand and change three things in the world, what would they be?

Tim: All too often we go through life half asleep. I know I do. To wake us all up would be one wand wave. To make humanity a bit kinder would be another. The third would do away with cell phones!

DT's note: Those curious as to why Tim would do away with cell phones, he's available at the recycling center on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9-5, and on Fridays from 9-1. He can also be visited at one of his many musical gigs. And, if you're the woman who — while this interview was in process last week — accidentally threw your cellphone out with your recycling (something that happens not infrequently Tim reports), it was found, almost immediately after you departed, by a young woman surfing in the cardboard bin.

Originally published by the Ashland Daily Tidings on June 14, 2007