Resonate

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.

NYTimes on Bend (late review)

I don’t know how I missed this the first time around (December 23rd, probably because I don’t read the New York Times): Where Timber Was King, the Golf Club Replaces the Ax.

I don’t really know what to think about this article. I certainly can’t relate to it, it’s aiming for the affluent and reeks of elitism. A little fisking, anyone?

WHEN you own a home in the sixth-fastest-growing region in the country, you worry about letting the cat out at night because of the coyotes howling in the forest. You scribe fresh powder turns down 9,000-foot-high bowls and muscle bicycles through high-desert hills. At some point, perhaps on a fairway between Holes 4 and 5, you wonder whether those lonely volcanoes lingering on the skyline will ever blow. The thing you rarely do is call your town rural.

Dammit, I do call my town rural; I grew up rural, that’s how we are. We actually did lose a cat to coyotes, growing up. I don’t ski, I’m sorry to say, nor do I golf. So far, it’s failing to hook me.

Albert Angelo Jr., an owner of a family-run development company, bought in Bend for its 300 annual days of sunshine and the 4.3 million acres of public land just beyond his floor-to-ceiling windows. He plans to divide his time between his houses in Vancouver, Wash., and Palm Desert, Calif., and his new $3 million, 5,100-square-foot single-story house in Pronghorn, a resort on the outskirts of town.

“When I look out my Pronghorn house facing north, I see a covered patio with a 10-foot-diameter barbecue pit, a pop-up plasma TV and a view of the golf course – but of a putting green, so my house won’t get hit by golf balls,” Mr. Angelo, 59, said. “You have a good lifestyle down there.”

Okay, I totally cannot relate. I’d say this guy’s idea of “a good lifestyle down there” is completely out-of-sync with the reality of Bend.

About 300 people are on a waiting list to purchase another dozen town houses at the Bluffs at the Old Mill, a neighborhood with views of the Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and Three Sisters volcanoes.

Again with the volcanoes. In my day we just called them “the mountains.” And for everybody wondering about the high real estate prices, look no more… the 288 people on that waiting list who won’t get a choice home want to go somewhere…

Bend’s proximity to trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, coupled with a bustling vibe, appealed to Stephen Johnson, 29, a salesman from Medford, Ore. In November, he bought a new 1,933-square-foot, two-story weekend house for $215,000 in southeast Bend. “It still feels like a small town but with more amenities that make it a fun place to visit,” he said.

Holy shit, there was a two-story, 1,933-square foot house for sale in town for only $215,000 as recently as November? Who did he have to kill to get the place for that cheap??

When Benders aren’t bouncing through the 370 inches of annual snowfall at Mount Bachelor, about 30 minutes west, much of the après action centers on Wall and Bond Streets, downtown’s two main arteries. Today, you’ll find no hardware store off the brick sidewalks, but should you seek information on a $2.75 million resort home or wish to make a donation to pierced buskers outside Bellatazza coffee shop, you need walk only a few blocks.

First of all, that should be “Bendites,” not “Benders”—we’re neither (mostly) drunks nor a certain sarcastic cartoon robot. Second of all, don’t remind me that there’s no hardware store downtown—it was a sad day when Masterson St. Clair finally closed down. But it’s good to know I can find that info on that $2.75-mil home, that’s important. Otherwise, this whole paragraph? Pretty much reeks of narcissistic self-importance. “Après action” and “pierced buskers” my ass.

Bend is 94 percent white. The joke among locals is that diversity means Subarus of different colors.

I’ve never heard that joke. I’ve lived here most of my life.

Okay, that’s enough. Go read the article, even if it bothers you as much as it seems to have me. I can’t help but wonder if they’re writing about the same town that I live in…

Haunted Bend

Halloween blogging #1

The Fall 2005 issue of Bend Living (no link love, their site sucks and the “current” links point to other articles) has an article titled “Ghost Stories” that explores some of the supposedly haunted places in Bend and Central Oregon. And on the radio last week, they were asking for people to call in to name the haunted places we have around here, so I thought it’d be fun to blog it a bit.

The Bend Living article mentions the Deschutes County Historical Society building, the old Reid School in downtown Bend. Supposedly the ghost of George Brosterhous, who died there in 1914, haunts the place.

The Shadowlands Haunted Place Index for Oregon (which I can thank Rhys for mentioning, if I remember correctly) mentions five for Bend:

The Congress House: This was mentioned on the radio, and is the subject of the only ghost story for Bend found in Ghosts and Strange Critters of Washington and Oregon. According to the Shadowlands site, “there have been a few families that have lived there that have either died or something tragic has happened to them due to living in the cursed house,” which is identified in the ghosts book as the McCann House. I don’t know about cursed; the book simply mentions that sometimes figures are seen in the upper story windows, and gives a short history of it.

The O’Kane Building: Mentioned in the Bend Living article, too. There’s “ghostly smoke, weird lights, footsteps, and voices,” and occasionally a voice that calls out orders in the restaurant.

Old Mt. View Hospital: I’m not sure where this is, the site says it’s now an apartment building next to Drake Park. Floor creaks have been reporting, like someone’s walking around.

The Old Smoke Stacks: They must mean in the Old Mill District, which isn’t relevant anymore since they’re building it out… But it sounds like teenagers would sneak in there at night to see if the place was haunted.

The Pilot Butte Cemetery: Also mentioned in Bend Living. Reports of ghostly blue orbs floating around.

Independently of these sources, I’ve also heard the Lara House Bed and Breakfast is haunted. Ironically enough, it’s located on Congress Avenue… just like the Congress House mentioned above! (Cue cheesy horror music.)

Other places mentioned in the Bend Living article include the Downing Hotel building in downtown Bend, current site of The Grove restaurant, Bronco Billy’s in Sisters (the old Hotel Sisters building), Sunriver Resort’s Great Hall, and the New Redmond Hotel in (you guessed it) Redmond.

Shadowlands mentions Redmond, too. In addition to footsteps, there “have been pictures taken and in the pictures there are clearly orbs in the lobby hall. Feelings of a strange presence in the rooms in the middle of the night. Apparitions of a woman have been reported.”

So, what else have we got around here? Anyone know of any haunted places I didn’t mention?

Bend restaurants blog

A new local weblog has popped up: Bend Oregon Restaurants. Found it when “BrENDa” (its author) left a couple comments here. Finally! A good restaurant review/guide blog for Bend, by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

And you gotta love the honesty in her reviews: read the O’Kane’s review or the Bon Bien review to see what I mean. My favorite line: “Bon Bien is Non Bien.”

More on DeWolf case

The Bulletin today has a piece on the DeWolf sexual harrassment case, with much more detail. It’s rather appalling. Touching on some points:

  • Apparently “Deschutes County policy requires employees to report sexual harassment…. Violating the policy can draw penalties that range from a warning to dismissal, according to the policy.” While I think sexual harrassment is a pretty serious offense, this policy seems awfully harsh for the victim—I mean, not only could you be subjected to the harrassment to begin with, you could lose your job for being too embarrassed or scared to report it? Wow. Sounds like a great way to breed a culture of fear and avoidance.(The article does mention that none of the employees—there are at least three—who knew about it have been disciplined specifically under this policy, though one of them has been suspended pending the ongoing investigation of the juvenile department that pulled the trigger on this whole mess.)
  • When he was first interviewed for the juvenile department investigation, “DeWolf said the investigation would have never been authorized had he not taken a month off over the summer to attend a public policy school at Harvard University.” Hmmmm. Is he admitting that he would have hindered this investigation, given the chance? Sounds criminal.
  • The article covers the incident in question in detail. It illustrates some pretty blatant behavior on DeWolf’s part—this is the stuff in particular that I found appalling. In particular I have a hard time reconciling that with DeWolf’s resignation statement where he declares: “I stand by my statement of August 9 that the incident from two years ago was resolved the day after it occurred. Valid county policy was followed in that resolution”—except for the county policy that requires sexual harrassment to be reported. Or, when he says this:

    People have asked what purpose was served by the Lane County Deputy District Attorney holding a press conference in the county office building. They’ve asked what purpose was served by bringing up an incident from twelve years ago. They’ve asked what purpose was served when he used such salacious and sensational language in declaring his intention not to file charges. They’ve asked what purpose was served by the media quoting that salacious and sensational language. I have no answer for these questions.

    Talk about avoidance—trying to lay the blame for all this coming out into the open on the Lane County DA(!). Seems to me the answer to those questions is pretty obvious; it prompted a much-needed housecleaning.

BendSearch

Check this out: BendSearch.com. Alpine, the company I used to work for, has finally resurrected it and updated it. Good for them.

I was responsible for a lot of the work that went into that site back in the day (this would be in 2000-2001). Oh, I’m not bragging; that was, of course, early in my career as a PHP developer, so there was a lot of ugly, bad code floating around in there, courtesy of yours truly.

Hopefully they’ll be able to get somebody to give it the attention it deserves; it’s looking a little sparse right now but I rather like what I’m seeing.