A deeper look into our community

By Rachael Rees van den Berg,  Leadership Bend Class of 2016

From the workings of our current sewer and water system, to the chapters of change the city of Bend has undergone over the years and the challenges our community is facing today, the first day of Leadership Bend gave its 26 attendees the lay of the land.

The day began with Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky sharing his insights.

“We get $200 a month …It’s basically a volunteer position,”Chudowsky told the class about serving on city council. “Hours can range from 5-15. It’s very difficult for a person that has a 9-5 schedule. I think that’s one of the drawbacks because you’re excluding a lot of very talented people.”

After an inspiring presentation from Chudowsky about the depths of the urban growth boundary and the challenges of infrastructure, students took a trip back in time, exploring the Deschutes Historical Museum and Society.

“It was a deliberate choice by citizens to have the form of government that we do,”said Kelly Cannon-Miller, executive director of the Deschutes Historical Museum and Society.

Cannon-Miller gave an overview of the history of the museum then released the class to explore the various collections housed in the building, which was at one time, Bend’s largest and most expensive schools.

“We are living in the digital dark ages,”Cannon-Miller warned, adding The Bulletin’s archives are stored within the building. “No electronic document is static…Electronic documents are not permanent…You’re always chasing your tail with the care of electronic media.”

Historian Jim Crowell next explained the economical changes that have taken place throughout the community.

“In the late ‘30s each mill had 900 to 1,100 employees,”he said. “There were several small businesses surrounding the plants…You can imagine a town of 9,000 to 10,000 people, how dominate these two mills were economically and socially.”

He shared the stories of the railroad, the role various prominent structures played in the community and how the streets of downtown and the outlying areas changed and became what they are today.

The class loaded up the trolley around noon for the first City Club lunch and an invigorating conversation about transportation.

Upon arrival back to the Deschutes Historical Museum, Leadership Bend students got to rub elbows and pick the brains of a panel comprised of the who’s who in Central Oregon. Topics ranged from affordable housing to the need to collaborate as a region.

The day concluded with a walk-around tour of downtown Bend. Needless to say, although I’ve lived in this town for more than two decades, hearing Crowell’s tales of lives lived in the homes that line Drake Park was enough to make me want to pick up some additional history books…in particular Frontier Publisher a biography of George Palmer Putnam.


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