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“Our Community: History & Heritage”

Leadership Bend 2018 Class Article

By Ian Schmidt & Jeff Kitchens

Leadership Bend 2018 Class with Mayor Casey Roats

An unassuming plaque sits on the ground by one of the large Ponderosa Pines at the edge of Mirror Pond Plaza.  It stands as the marker for Bend’s founding by Alexander M. Drake.  During Leadership Bend’s first session on September 28th, participants learned how their engagement with the community, like that of historical leaders, will form the future of Central Oregon.

Jim Crowell, local historian, speaks with Leadership Bend participants

Leadership Bend is a year-long community focused leadership training program.  It started last week with an alumni gathering and orientation, followed by the program’s first all-day session on the history and heritage of Central Oregon communities. “You must first find out how you got to where you are, before you can find tomorrow’s solution,” stated Kelly Cannon-Miller, Executive Director of the Deschutes Historical Society and one of the day’s presenters.  It was in this vein that local leaders, historians, and business people shared their perspectives with Leadership Bend participants.  This included Jim Crowell, local author and historian, walking through downtown Bend sharing his personal stories and historical anecdotes.

Several speakers highlighted the roles upcoming leaders will play in solving Central Oregon’s evolving issues.  Affordable housing, infrastructure, and diversifying the private sector were among the issues discussed. Presenters shared that Bend’s explosive growth and concerns surrounding its relationship with the environment are not new. Bend Mayor Casey Roats commented that, “Solutions do lie within the community, but will require hard choices and heavy lifts to get there… we can’t plan for 15 years from now if we only look at 5 years ago.” Kelly Cannon-Miller also told the class that there was much modern-day Bend could learn from its history.  “Historical figures are like us, they had many of the same concerns and issues.”
The day’s final session, a Q&A with local leaders including Jon Skidmore (City of Bend), Todd Taylor (Taylor NW), Connie Druliner (Express Employment Professionals), Wally Corwin (Jeld-Wen), and Bev Clarno (former state legislator and Deschutes Co. Commissioner) gave the class a perspective on the area’s diverse community composition and history. Carissa Lucas, a class participant, asked, “What advice would you give to new/aspiring leaders?”  The overwhelming response from the panel was, “Get involved.” Todd Taylor shared, “Life is like a jar of nickels. If you only take out, what is left? You need to figure out how to put nickels back in the jar.” Over the next year, that is what the participants of Leadership Bend will be learning.

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