News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Cromwell brings life experience

Tanner Cromwell, hired six weeks ago as the new program director at Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD), brings to the position some valuable life experience that he isn’t hesitant to reveal.

Cromwell, at 30 years old, has experienced more of life than a number of his peers. While enrolled in college, painkiller use derailed his plans and dropped him into the dark world of addiction. He finally reached out to his parents to let them know he was in trouble and needed help.

After going to treatment at the well-respected Hazelden program in Minnesota, he got sober at age 22. He stayed in Minnesota in a sober-living house, where he was surrounded by positive influences and the support he needed. While there, he volunteered at a community center with Americorps working with pre-kindergartners.

When he left Minnesota, Cromwell returned home to Kent, Washington, and his family and enrolled at Western Washington University (WWU) in Bellingham. He had discovered during his treatment and while working his recovery program that recreating in the out-of-doors was a good way to keep himself on track, so he majored in recreation management at WWU. While he was still a student, one of his professors pointed him in the direction of a job with SSC Contractors, working with 16- to 19-year-old members of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe building trails on Mount Rainier. After graduation, he worked for the Bellevue Parks Department in Washington leading outdoor trips.

Cromwell hiked South Sister last summer and liked the area, so when he saw the SPRD position advertised online he applied. After being hired, he was fortunate to meet local tiny-home builder Jeff Miller, who agreed to rent him one of his houses that has air conditioning and is a half-block from the Peterson Ridge Trail.

His general hopes for his new position include “learning the job, and then being effective and productive, making strong connections with the community, and having a positive impact.” Cromwell has already established a new partnership with the Deschutes Public Library for a trails program this fall for those over 18. Each week the library will provide participants with reading material on some aspect of the outdoors, like wild mushrooms, and then they will take a hike looking for examples of what they read about.

A partnership between SPRD and Sisters Community Church (SCC) has led to a new teen center that will be opening in The Hangar at SCC. The SAGE Room at SPRD will be reactivated with programs for seniors. With the reduction of programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cromwell indicated it almost feels like they are starting a new operation.

Cromwell’s engagement with the community has already led to his accepting a position on the board of directors of a new drug-prevention program in Sisters. He is passionate about passing on to others what he has experienced and learned about addiction and recovery. His position at SPRD will afford the opportunity to provide a positive role model for the youth of Sisters.


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