What’s your Vision for Bend?


(Photo | Courtesy of Envision Bend)

Share it with the Bend Vision Project

Wanted: ideas, dreams, visions, opinions and more for what the greater Bend area should look like in the future to improve and enhance people’s lives.

In early July, Envision Bend launched its Bend Vision Project, a community-wide engagement project to gather input on what they envision for the greater Bend area.

Envision Bend Executive Director Lauren Fritz said the community conversation is a collaborative, inclusive and nonpartisan way for everyone to share what they want Bend to be in the next 20 years. “Our world is changing fast and so is the Bend area, Fritz said. “It’s critically important that we plan for our future today. It’s equally important we gather community input. We want to make sure the plan tackles the most pressing challenges and delivers for all who call the greater Bend area home.”

Fritz shared this is the first large-scale community visioning project for the greater Bend area since 2005-06. Ideas that came to fruition from that project include building and opening the OSU-Cascades campus and diversifying the economy.

Fritz said there are numerous activities and events during this project’s public phase including “Listen & Envision” workshops for community members, a presence at numerous festivals and events and prize giveaways.

In the fall, citizen teams will meet to vet the public input and develop an action plan that will include a vision statement, strategies for new projects and programs and ideas for actions that people can understate in their own lives. The action plan is scheduled to be published and presented in 2023.

Fritz said it’s important for everyone who wants an opportunity to provide input.

The Bend Vision Project reviewed articles and reports to understand the challenges, growth projections and trends. According to its report, “Bend is one of the nation’s fastest growing small cities with increased traffic congestion and skyrocketing housing prices. Bend’s economy is diversifying with tech start-ups and remote workers. The population is also becoming more diverse, and there are more incidents of prejudice and incivility.”

Challenges also include a large population of unhoused community members and climate change with more frequent droughts and wildfires.

The Bend Vision Project is focusing on the areas of livability, affordability, resiliency, innovation and inclusion.

EDCO CEO Jon Stark shared how important it is to plan, especially since everything is tied together.

For example, businesses need an available and ready workforce to meet the demands of the changing landscape and to grow, and employees need affordable housing, childcare and transportation.

Stark shared that when companies are looking to relocate or start in a location, they want to know what’s in place to ensure their success. “The reason many companies located in Bend was because they first came here as visitors and saw everything we had to offer,” Stark said. “We need to make sure to preserve the things that have made Bend great for everyone.”

Gwenn Wysling is the executive director of the Bethlehem Inn, a non-denominational, community-based facility providing shelter to those experiencing homelessness in Central Oregon. She has witnessed the challenges of people finding affordable housing. “It’s important everyone has a say and participates in this process,” she said. “It’s not always easy to find a solution but by working together with intent and purpose, it’s possible.”

Wysling said Bend is a generous community in how it looks out for one another. “The Bethlehem Inn has solved homelessness for many families, and we can solve homelessness in our community,” she said. “We need to look to the future to plan what we can do better.”

Anna Higgins, assistant superintendent of the High Desert Education Service District, said it has been a challenge to find employees for the six school districts it serves due to affordable housing. “We have staff members who are skilled, passionate and creative but cannot afford to live here,” Higgins said. “It’s important we address the issue of affordable housing.”

Higgins said she is hopeful the people will hold in esteem the importance of being respectful to one another’s ideas and come to a shared vision.

Fritz shared that the Envision Bend project encourages people to work together to build community. “We want everyone who wants a say to be able to have a say,” Fritz said. “We want to make sure everyone has a voice at the table for what they want for their community in the future.”



About Author

Leave A Reply