News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Letters to the Editor - 5/26/2021

Editor’s note:

Letter-writer JK Wells is not the same person as Jean Wells Keenan.

Grappling with homelessness

To the Editor:

I read, excitedly, to the end of your article on Sisters ‘grappling with homelessness,’ assuming there would be input from our City Council in response to the homeless issue – something about how they are “grappling.”

Yes, the County has come on board with new paid positions; the Forest Service and several local committees and churches are currently, and have been, involved; and members of the new housing developments along the edge of the forest are grappling by making their complaints loud and clear. But, alas, nothing about our city government’s involvement. Are our city Mayor and Council grappling with the homeless issue at all? It would seem that now is a good time for the Sisters’ city government to get involved rather than waiting for the issue to get so heated that conflict requires them to act.

Oregon has the seventh highest homeless population in the United States.

Yes, Sisters has its homeless neighbors — they are part of us here — we will have our homeless neighbors the next year, and the next year, and out into the future.

This isn’t a temporary situation that is just going to go away.

Homelessness is something we need to face at the city government level, rather than leaving the safety of our forest dwellers to volunteer committees and churches.

As our city continues to grow, it seems time to begin addressing more permanent solutions.

Our neighbors in the forest are precious people with the same wants and needs and hopes and dreams as you and me — to feel safe and healthy and to be included rather than marginalized.

Bend has a growing homeless population. Eugene, Ashland, and Portland, among others, have their homeless populations. All four cities have prioritized homelessness at the government level, are creating permanent spaces in one form or another, and are working to connect their homeless to community services and permanent shelter.

It certainly doesn’t help the situation to harass and wish away our 80-plus men, women and children out there on the margins and to make their lives even more difficult than homelessness already does. Some of our homeless are young people who have grown up here in Sisters or Central Oregon and have fallen on hard times; some work in Sisters but cannot possibly afford the price of housing. Some have a variety of mental issues or addictions and have been marginalized all their lives. Different reasons will require different solutions.

Two easy, low cost and painless, small, temporary steps our City Council could take are:

1. Set up a few dumpsters and porta potties on the edges of town so our forest dwellers have somewhere to dump their waste; and

2. Open a portion of the City-owned Creekside RV Park during the coldest winter months, when snow piles up and forest roads do not get plowed. This would allow those living in tents and RVs easier access to food and warmth. Existing committees working for the homeless have several times appealed to the City Council to address both the above temporary solutions, assuring them that waste pickup, safety monitoring, and snow removal would all be taken care of without involving an expense to the City. And yet the city has, to date, been unwilling.

And, finally, perhaps the Sisters’ City Mayor and Council might at this juncture prioritize homelessness by budgeting some actual dollars toward identifying and obtaining Federal dollars available to cities for planning and for creating permanent housing solutions.

Bonnie LaMont Rose

Impacts of growth

To the Editor:

Nugget reporter Sue Stafford does a good job of trying to inform readers of the machinations of the City Council. Her story on land-use laws and urban growth (The Nugget, May 5, page 1) was a case in point.

One issue that she mentioned needs further discussion in particular.

She says that the City of Sisters “is forecast to grow from a 2020 population of 3,270 to 5,399 by 2041.” And therefore the City needs to add a total of 1,100 new housing units by that time.

This might give some the impression that newcomers will have no place to live if the City does not encourage urban sprawl.

Such an impression would be false.

There will always be houses for sale in the greater Sisters area because of turnover, infill, remodeling, and so forth.

The forecast begs the questions of its source and purpose.

It seems to me that it is simply self-serving pap promoted by development interests.

Such forecasts are both highly dubious (worthless and misleading) and destructive (note how the City has already eviscerated part of the land it received from the Forest Service.

Did it complete an environmental impact study?).

Indeed, what obligation does Sisters have to promote sprawl? If I wish to live in Palm Springs, do I have the right to demand that the city promote tract housing on the off chance that this will lower the cost of housing? This is ridiculous.

Because the City has a terrible record of acceding to the demands of developers, this may be the time to form a “Committee to Protect Sisters from Urban Sprawl.” Perhaps with pro bono legal assistance we could work to revise the City charter/bylaws so that any development of more than X million dollars or X thousand square feet (think big box stores) require voter approval. Without such constraints on the City Council the citizens of Sisters will have no significant say in its future.

Gary Leiser

To the Editor:

As a nature lover citizen I ask that we keep our nature alive. I am not the only citizen here that feels there is too much building going on. Yet I am the one that is stepping up to share.

Please feel this with me:

Today I took a walk and saw a deer. It turned toward me and walked about three feet from me. We had eye contact. I felt so much love from this deer. Then as I left a church, I saw a family of deer sitting in a small section of nature next to a bulldozer. I knew God wanted me to see this.

I don’t have children, yet I know the children of the world want to see their nature. I have witnessed Beaverton being destroyed with so much building going on and other parts of Oregon. What would you rather look at when you take your walk, bike ride, and/or run a fence: A bunch of houses or nature with birds singing to you?

I find it amusing that people have escaped places like California and other busy cities to get into nature. Then I see the nature being destroyed. You don’t take the money with you when we leave. You take what you have done to the Earth and how you made a difference. We have to see that balance is necessary and stop over building.

Please let the animals enjoy the nature as well. The birds, deer, etc. deserve to enjoy just as much as human kind. Stop building and destroying the beauty in Central Oregon.

I have done lots of environmental research and found that cutting trees increases flooding because trees suck water. Also you are affecting the nature balance where birds and squirrels will soon have no home to live in. You will increase more air and noise pollution. Did you know that replacing with new trees takes about 15 years?

Too much building only takes away the slower lifestyle, increases potential crime, and increases cost of living.

Angel Rose

Beware of kennel cough

To the Editor:

Apparently there is a strain of kennel cough in our area that is not prevented by the current vaccination. Our young black puppy, just four months old, has a bad case, and it is scary. And he was fully vaccinated.

Please keep your dogs away from other dogs, especially dog parks, and never let them drink out of a water bowl put down in front of a business. You have no idea what your dog can pick up from that water!

If your dog develops a bad cough, see a vet quite soon.

Sue Edgerton

Overcoming political division

To the Editor:

We each can use our words and thoughts to uplift and heal or to cut down and harm others. The recent (May 19) letter from JK Wells saddened me.

“Don’t Let Central Oregon Become Portland” aimed blame, disdain, shame and “othering” tactics at people in our community and Portland. That hurts. I can understand how our current climate makes us want to feel better about ourselves, as important, worthwhile, and belonging. And to “win” in an argument. Our identities are shaken at the roots.

We are overwhelmed with new influences and neighbors who don’t share our views, and with isolation, separation and stress that make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, feel loved, and feel safe. Generational trauma from brutalities going back to the middle ages has flowed across the oceans via colonialism, along with the need to feel better and safer by having power over others, our environment, and even our emotions. Without an understanding of where our knee-jerk reactions come from, we continue to hurt others with our words and our struggle to be on the top of the pile, for our “survival” and need for control.

For those of Faith, do we really have a better ability than our creator to “control” our life’s circumstances? We each have exceptional power to improve the harmful elements of our world by seeking to heal ourselves and our ancestral trauma, to choose thoughtful, uplifting responses over knee-jerk, caustic reactions.

It takes dogged daily work and attention to our surroundings and physical feelings, patience and kindness with ourselves and others in our immediate circles.

But this is where the buck stops.

New discoveries in neuroscience can go hand in hand with indigenous empirical offerings to help us recognize the source of our lizard brain reactions and to re-pattern our thoughts and the trauma held in our bodies that shows up as stress-related illnesses and mental or behavioral imbalances.

The challenges before us require we stretch to come together and to utilize all the potential within our diverse people and to conserve energy and resources to be able to meet the compounding problems created by our forbearers and the unhealed. Let us start where we are, to love our neighbors as ourselves. To wipe the tears of the sick and poor, knowing some of those tears will be our own that we see in the mirror. And when we stop needing to be right, we will see each other as the mirrors and teachers we are for each other. Some resources I have used are “My Grandmother’s Hands” (Rensma Menakem), “Ancestral Medicine” (Daniel Foor) and Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life.”

Thank you deeply to JK Wells for being my teacher.

Rachel N. Smith

To the Editor:

Liberals aren’t bad people; believe it or not they love America just as much as you and I. There are some conservatives that are intent on maintaining the divide by insisting that liberals hate America. Similarly there are liberal democrats that think the same of conservatives, where both are equally divisive in their beliefs.

However, the liberal philosophy that includes political correctness is problematic because it lacks the ability to draw a line at the juncture of conscience and common sense.

Political correctness along with the philosophy of “It’s going to happen anyway” is one more cause that furthers the divide.

Nobody has the political gumption to say enough is enough.

The liberal side of the Democratic Party is being manipulated by the far left into believing there should be no line.

We should stop this silliness of defining America as the most diverse country in the world; or at least until we establish some equitable limits to our diversity.

At what point do we realize that a few divided by the overall population is an infinite number that only instills further division.

This is where it all started.

Republicans, some 200 years ago, drew a line saying this is our interpretation; no matter how vague it might be. The liberals of the Democratic Party, can’t draw a line; everything’s wide open. If there was a line they’d keep moving it anyway. Compromise would require the Republicans to be more in tune with today’s thinking; rather than the days of the musket or cap and ball. While the Democrats would agree to moving slightly backward; maybe even to where we were, when division was a mathematical term, rather than a divisive wedge, that is driven into the heart of America.

Terry Coultas


Reader Comments(0)