News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Community stands together

Twenty years. It seems like a long time and yet in many ways has passed by like the blink of an eye. October marked the 20th anniversary of my family’s move to Sisters; a move that was difficult for me because I was leaving a place that felt like my forever home. I couldn’t imagine any place away from the ocean making me feel as complete, and yet, the life that was awaiting me within the Sisters community was to hold more than I could ever imagine possible.

As we all began our new lives here, we got involved and connected.

It felt like a pretty natural ease into a brand-new and welcoming community.

I took a position at Multnomah Publishers and then needed to work remotely for my brother.

One day while at a physical therapy appointment, Greg Zadow mentioned being busy enough to need a part-time front desk person and asked me to keep my ear open.

I later mentioned my desire to be working within the community again and my interest in the position.

Greg was a little reluctant, knowing my background, and worried that the position wouldn’t offer enough.

Almost 19 years later, I hope that he knows he gave me an opportunity that went far beyond anything I could have hoped for.

Life over these past 20 years has held some unimaginable challenges. There have been so many lives lost within this community, so many people battling life-threatening conditions, so many uncertainties. The recession came and we, along with many others, watched our lives turned upside down. We experienced epic losses and watched as a big reset button was pushed. Despite all of the uncertainties and heartbreaks, we were strengthened by Sisters. Community stands together and cares for one another and Sisters is that community.

The people of Sisters have strong belief systems and values; they speak and fight for what is important to them. Sometimes that evokes great progress and sometimes there have been lines drawn in the sand over issues that then became battles. Battles can become ugly and have substantial costs, however battles do reveal the very real fact that people care enough to fight for what they value.

Over the past two decades, there have been a number of battles and there have been some casualties; there are some wonderful people who, with dedicated intentions, tried to be a force for good but had the embattled experience drive them away. That is tragic because we should always strive to build each other up, even when there are differences. A community is strongest when everyone is encouraged to do their best and rewarded for the efforts expended — even when we disagree.

Our population has grown tremendously and with that comes concern; concern over expanding neighborhoods, low-income housing, increasing crime and lack of jobs. Those same concerns have been here to some degree for as long as I have and yet, no matter the growth, Sisters is still a truly special and unique community offering a quality of life getting harder and harder to find in our country.

2020 will most likely be remembered first as the year of a pandemic and losses sustained because of it; however just like the previous years categorized by a recession or epic wildfires, we are so much more than that. This year has also been about coming together when we couldn’t literally do that and it is still about supporting one another to the best of our abilities. Local businesses need our support now more than ever. These committed business owners have sustained blows that were unforeseeable and that no amount of planning or saving up for could sustain. Every dollar spent within the Sisters community is literally a life-saving decision for this precious town.

When I reflect back over the past 20 years and about my own highs and lows, I feel such a tremendous sense of gratitude for this community. It is here where our lives were redesigned, and thanks to this community, recreated. It is here within this community that I was able to take a dream and see it realized and supported — and it is here that I have known the very best of humanity.

I always say that if you have to go through something really hard, this is where you want to be. And, if you want to breathe life into a dream, the sense of connectedness here will offer a supportive foundation. Are there downsides? Well, of course every place has a few of those, mostly because we are made up of humans and we humans can fail at times. But the positives so far outweigh the negatives — and I have 20 years of witnessing and experiencing that!

The world is getting tighter as our populations grow and expand outward. People will continue to come here, or desire to come here, because Sisters is truly a gem. Change will happen, as it has over the past 20 years, but we can do this well when we stay together and support one another. I’ve lived in so many places throughout my life and I have never experienced a community quite like this.

My zip code needed to change a few years ago as we were re-entering homeownership, but this community has been and remains my home community — and for that I feel truly blessed.


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