Being a Local in Bend


Let’s Create Our Community by Design Rather than by Default

This is the time of year that we get to breathe a bit easier. The hot, smoke-filled days of this past summer are behind us and we welcome the needed precipitation that has recently doused Central Oregon. It’s also a time that our community’s pace slows down now that summer visitors are gone, schools are open and our fireplaces are kindled.

It is in this shoulder season that we have the opportunity to reflect on all that has transpired in our little, yes still little, mountain town. Just last week on my way to the Redmond Airport, I witnessed drivers get irritated with each other by honking horns and not giving way to others. Horns seem omnipresent where in the past it was rare to ever hear one being used. It is commonplace to witness drivers who do not stop for pedestrians at a cross walk. Our roads are unquestionably more congested due to a combination of visitors as well as the new round of exponential growth Central Oregon is experiencing. I’ve been thinking to myself — What is happening to our city where almost everyone is kind, generous and friendly? Are we becoming the stereotypical fast-paced metropolis?

This question reminds me of the story of a son and his dad. The dad always brought his briefcase home from the office and this confused the son. The son said: “Dad, why is it that when you come home from work you always bring your briefcase?” The father replied that it was because he could not get all his work done at the office. The little boy said: “Dad, can’t they put you in a slower group?” The truth is that some of us probably need to be put into a ‘slower’ group. It’s not easy for most of us to disconnect from our busy lives. But we can choose to slow down, smell the flowers and make a conscious decision to connect.

This leads me to the next big question: How are we going to keep Bend — Bend-like? Have you ever heard people say they wish they could build a wall around the city the day after they relocate here? Have you heard others complain how the endless tourists don’t even know how to navigate our numerous roundabouts? I think we all have and yet we are all part of the problem as it can be easier to focus on the challenges rather than potential solutions. I believe being against something only weakens us and being for something empowers us. Rather than being against congestion and tourism maybe we can shift our thoughts to creating mindful growth. Instead of having little tolerance for people moving here, as most of us have had at one point, maybe it would benefit everyone if were more patient with newcomers as they acclimatize to our slower pace of life. Nothing good happens when we approach these challenges with aggression.

Back in 2008, when I was the Chairman of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, I would half kiddingly say when one moves to Bend, they must purchase a Subaru Outback, a Labrador Retriever, flip flops with a beer opener and take a half-day course titled: Bend Etiquette. This fictional course may be more relevant than ever before to help maintain our values and not slowly lose our unique “je ne sais quoi”. However, I do believe we long-time locals should play our part.

About five years ago, I had an opportunity to meet Allison Barnard. Allison is a local life coach and business consultant who owns Larkspur Wellness. A native Oregonian, she moved to Bend about 15 years ago. She vividly remembers the negativity around the local’s frustration for growth and tourism in Ashland, Oregon where she previously resided. She realized that wasn’t an attitude she wanted to embrace and over the past few years she began feeling a similar local sentiment here in Bend. Rather than sit back in frustration and watch a similar scenario unfold, she decided to take action and committed to focusing on what she loves about living in Bend. She then created what I think was and still is a most appropriate and timely message. Maybe you have seen her posters that we scattered around town called: BE A LOCAL! IN BEND. Here are her words of wisdom:


  • WAG MORE. BARK LESS: There are positives and negatives to every changing town. Continue the conversation. Participate.
  • DRIVE LIKE YOU LIVE HERE: Let people in. Save your horn for important stuff. Be careful with your phone. Signal when exiting roundabouts.
  • TURN THE MUSIC UP. TURN THE MUSIC DOWN: Know when to live it up and when to chill. Be mindful to those around you.
  • SAY HELLO BACK: Being welcoming and aware of one another helps continue a tradition of kindness.
  • SEEK TO UNDERSTAND: Seek perspective. Breathe in. Breathe out. Seek to learn from and give to those around you.
  • MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS: Good things can happen when we get to know one another.
  • PAY ATTENTION: Bend is a biking and walking community. Slow down a bit. See each other. We all benefit.
  • TRY TO BUY LOCAL: Where we shop, eat and have fun makes our community home and strengthens our community.
  • WALK MORE: This town reveals pretty amazing things when you walk it.
  • SAY THANKS: Wave and say thanks when crossing. Acknowledge the little things kind people do. They’re everywhere.
  • YOUR VIBE ATTRACTS YOUR TRIBE: Evolve. Together. Be welcoming and feel welcomed.

As Bendites, we have a deep responsibility to participate in ways that make a positive difference in our community. Thank you, Allison, for making a profound difference. For you readers out there, if you’d like a poster, please reach out and I will make sure you receive one. How can we spread these words? Wouldn’t it be great if this message greeted every guest entering their hotel room, Airbnb or when they receive the bill at a restaurant?

We live in such an amazing place that it deserves to be created by design rather than by default. Most of us who have relocated here over the years have made a conscious decision that this is where we want to live more than any place else to raise our families, start our businesses, recreate, enjoy our retirement years or any combination of the four. I have never experienced another area where almost everyone is here because they have consciously chosen to be! Abraham Lincoln stated: “You are only as happy as you make up your mind to be.”

Bend is so very busy. Life is so very busy. Working hard and having a strong work ethic is very important, but I find that one of the best ways to succeed in life and business—is to keep a reasonable pace in one’s life. I hear people say that someday their life will settle down. I do not believe this will automatically happen. Settling life down is a choice. Author and Philosopher Wayne Dyer stated: Remember yesterday, dream about tomorrow but live today. These words can serve you—and your fellow Bendites—well as long as we can get out of our own way, connect with those around us and focus on solutions rather than challenges. In the meantime, lead by example. Smile, slow down just a bit and as Allison states: Evolve. Together. Be welcoming and feel welcomed.

David Rosell is president of Rosell Wealth Management in Bend. He is the host of the Recession-Proof Your Retirement Podcast and author of Failure is Not an Option — Creating Certainty in the Uncertainty of Retirement and Keep Climbing — A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Planning. Find David’s books on Audible and iBooks as well as the Redmond Airport.

Investment advisory services offered through Valmark Advisers, Inc. an SEC Registered Investment Advisor Securities offered through Valmark Securities, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC 130 Springside Drive, Ste. 300 Ak-ron, Ohio 44333-2431. 800-765-5201. Rosell Wealth Management is a separate entity from Valmark Securities, Inc. and Valmark Advisers, Inc.


About Author

David Rosell — Rosell Wealth Management

David Rosell is president of Rosell Wealth Management in Bend. He is the author of Failure is Not an Option- Creating Certainty in the Uncertainty of Retirement. You may learn more about his book at or Ask for David's book at Costco, Barnes & Noble and in Bend at Newport Market, Cafe Sintra, Bluebird Coffee Shop and Powell's Books in Portland.

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