I think Jennifer almost always has insightful things to say about Bend (and is a fine writer to boot), but last night’s post was really remarkable, I think. She points to the Bend 2030 website (the project of which I was only really tangentially aware of until the past few days), and drops the bomb on a couple of the hard questions:
What’s the most significant issue facing Bend?
Well, an increase in growth threatens two of the three things I value most about living here. So Bend’s biggest issue is limiting growth or, if that’s impossible, limiting the damage.
Also: this town has a severe divide between rich and poor with almost no middle class. That gives my kids a wacky sense of how the world works. First, it’s not a reflection of most of the United States; and second, they don’t see a model for success — except, of course, in real estate. People grow up here and disappear for awhile, then come back as doctors and lawyers. Or they grow up wealthy and never work for keeps. Unless Bend changes, my kids won’t have much opportunity to watch someone start out on a low rung and work their way up.
So, to answer question four:
What is your personal vision for the future of Bend?
I want growth in Bend to slow way, way down, so that we can get a psychic grasp on what’s happening here. And then I would like Bend to work toward becoming not a resort town or a retirement mecca but a normal city, where people work and go to school — and just happen to climb mountains or ski or run rivers whenever they get a chance.
Dead on. I really couldn’t have said it better myself, and I find myself nodding in nearly perfect agreement with this.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Bend and its growth and what it’s been turning into lately. In light of my rant yesterday, I think it’s safe to expect more rants and thoughts on this topic from me. In the meantime, keep watching Jennifer. She’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.