News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

‘Creative optimist’ joins City of Sisters staff

With the closure of City Hall to the public due to COVID-19, the residents of Sisters have yet to meet a new addition to the staff in the person of Emelia “Emme” Shoup.

Shoup is part of an AmeriCorps program administered through the University of Oregon, Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE). The City has a contract with the U of O for 1,700 hours of Shoup’s services over 11 months, for which she will receive a monthly stipend and nine credits toward her master’s degree. She plans to use this opportunity to hone in on a particular area of interest before starting work on her Masters of Urban and Regional Planning.

Even before Shoup arrived, City Manager Cory Misley knew what her duties would be. Her official title is Assistant Community Engagement and Program Coordinator. She will be splitting her time between the Comprehensive Plan update starting this fall and coordinating projects that were identified as objectives in the Sisters Vision Project. Misley and City Recorder Kerry Prosser will coordinate her activities.

One of Shoup’s underlying talents is her creativity, which she brings with her to her work. Given the restrictions due to COVID, she said, “I look forward to finding creative ways for the public to safely engage in providing input for the Comp Plan.”

Shoup’s resume highlights her creative talents as well as her work ethic. She attended the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics for high school and at the same time participated in the Running Start program at the local community college. She graduated from high school and at the same time received her associate’s degree.

At VSAA she expanded her talents as a visual artist (pottery, sculpture, painting, drawing), which she turned into a business screen printing T-shirts and creating greeting cards, which led to commission work. She also focused on her skill as a writer in the literary arts program. In the field of moving arts (videography), she developed an interest in animation, illustration, and storyboarding, which she hopes to use during her time with the City.

Shoup’s diverse interests were apparent during her college years as she sampled a variety of disciplines from nutrition and sustainable agriculture to public health, finally settling on the Community Development Program at Portland State University. She graduated last spring with her Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Planning and Design. Part of all her pursuits has always been a strong desire to be of help to people.

Notification of her placement in Sisters wasn’t received until August 17, necessitating a scramble to find housing in a tight rental market, get moved, and report to work at City Hall in early September.

The native of southwest Washington spent some summer vacations with her two siblings and parents at Eagle Crest Resort, but had never been to Sisters. She “really likes Sisters” and reports that “the people have been great.”

The other two possible placements in the RARE program were in Astoria working with food systems and the port, or in Roseburg. With friends in Bend, Shoup was delighted to be assigned to Sisters.

Being an active person, one of the first things she tackled after arriving was summiting South Sister with friends and camping overnight on the mountain.

Last fall, Shoup studied permaculture design in Peru, expecting limited amenities, but was particularly impressed with their bus system, which was more like flying on a plane. The buses are double-deckers, with seats that allow passengers to lie down or they can watch TV wearing headphones. She had expected maybe some chickens on board.

When queried about her views on the current tenor of our times, Shoup responded.

“I try to see the light. Both sides are impatient and frustrated. We’re going through some tumultuous times,” she said. “But I have hope because a lot of us are fighting. That’s a sign of hope that people still care.”

Shoup is particularly hopeful when it comes to those she calls “the children of the COVID years,” those coming along behind her who are having to be adaptable and resilient while dealing with bizarre norms.” She would like to see society “change how we regard and trust youth.”

Shoup’s optimism can be seen in her assessment of being in Sisters: “It was meant to be.” And so far, she “feels welcomed and appreciated as I am.”


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