News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Implementing Sisters Country Vision

As the Sisters Country Vision celebrates its first anniversary, those working hard to bring the Vision Action Plan to life celebrate some notable progress and look forward to another year of collaborative, community-led action.

The Vision Implementation Team, led by Mayor Chuck Ryan and County Commissioner Patti Adair, has been meeting regularly to share progress updates on different strategies, identify priorities, and work together to find solutions to challenges.

The team’s mission is to “implement the vision action plan and prioritize projects through a transparent, balanced, and inclusive process.” The 17-member team is comprised of representatives from local organizations listed as a lead partner on three or more items in the action plan, along with a current student at Sisters High School, and two unaffiliated community members.

Along with members of the Vision Implementation Team, other local organizations have taken a lead on one or more of the four vision focus areas in the past year.

Age-Friendly Sisters Country, a new non-profit, has stepped up to tackle several Livable Sisters vision strategies. With a new Affordable Housing Work Group and a new volunteer medical ride-sharing database project in the works, these local leaders are demonstrating tremendous initiative. They also took on a Resilient Sisters strategy, securing official recognition of Sisters as a member of the Worldwide Age-Friendly Community Network; one of only seven communities in Oregon!

“Sisters is a leader and model for the Age-Friendly movement; working to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can thrive and prosper, ” says AFSC’s Dixie Eckford. In addition to AFSC’s work, improved transportation options are also coming to Sisters Country via Cascades East Transit in 2020. CET is adding expanded Saturday service and three new stops (Tumalo, Cascades Mall and St. Charles) to the existing route 29 between Sisters and Bend. They are also adding Tuesday service to their dial-a-ride program.

Progress on Resilient Sisters strategies also include the updated Community Wildfire Protection Plan and the new Deschutes County Wildfire Mitigation Advisory Committee. This committee is working with county staff to develop recommendations on how newly adopted building codes could better meet wildfire preparedness goals in Sisters.

“If the new building codes are adopted it will reduce the loss of homes to fires within Sisters Country,” says Fire Chief Roger Johnson.

The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District is also working with statewide and national partners on the FirstNet rollout, which will bring expanded communications connectivity to the Camp Sherman area and fill in gaps in connection along Hwy. 20.

Prosperous Sisters strategies focused on Artisanal Capital, and a vibrant local economy also saw progress in 2019. A local group of entrepreneurs, assisted by EDCO Sisters Director Caprielle Lewis, has launched a new network called the Sisters Country Entrepreneurs and Executives Network (SCEEN). They will plan 4-6 “meet-ups” annually to connect and support local business owners, remote workers, and start-up companies with resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities. A new partnership between the Sisters Arts Alliance and the City will expand Sisters’ public art program and includes funding for new art pedestals in 2020.

Meanwhile, several Connected Sisters strategies have been advanced by ­Citizens4Community (C4C). The nonprofit is developing a Community-Builders network and has presented many events — like a Let’s Talk series, a First Amendment forum, collaboration/facilitation workshops and a community sing — to foster engagement, leadership, inclusion and collaboration.

“We’ve been working on Vision activities for two years — since the beginning of the community input process. It’s great to see momentum continuing into implementation and the collaboration from individuals and groups throughout the area. It just further energizes C4C. We anticipate another busy year!” said C4C’s Amy Burgstahler.

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