CATS versus C4C – really?


Last updated 4/25/2023 at 3:45pm

I’ve lived in Sisters 28 years and love this sweet town for the same qualities we all appreciate—gorgeous mountains, majestic trees, recreation opportunities, celebrations of art and music. We purposely moved here to embrace a smaller community, to participate in activities and join a few organizations. We are involved and caring neighbors, both next door and at large.

But lately it seems, after joining a group (CATS) to question some disturbing city issues (overdevelopment...mega gas stations) I’m suddenly characterized as some sort of malcontent rabble-rouser. And I just don’t get it. As a committed tax-paying citizen in a charming town that’s grown by 220 percent in a very short amount of time, and changing daily, am I not allowed to ask what’s up?

As I’ve circulated a petition (opposing mega-sized Space Age station), not a single person refused to sign. Instead I hear others, equally concerned. Some, admittedly, feel it’s pointless, too one is listening. Maybe they’re right. After all, we’re just ordinary citizens...standing up to a Portland corporation with millions to gain. But are we standing up to something else too?

Lately, there’s been a palpable vibe in town—an innuendo that seems intent on pitting CATS against C4C. For those unfamiliar with the acronyms, CATS (Community Action Team for Sisters) and C4C (Citizens4Community) are not all that different. Both groups have members who care deeply about Sisters and community. Both agree on ideals like livability, prosperity, growth, resilience... goals thoughtfully outlined in the Sisters Country Vision (a good community-constructed future plan, adopted in 2019).

C4C is a congenial group that meets to talk and encourage civility and community. Good things, I heartily agree. But after a visit and talking to some, it seems a social group to me. Another good thing. Connecting community and encouraging unity—two thumbs up!

Meanwhile CATS, which has been around for decades, focuses more on action and resolution. Our members consist of many, including retired professionals (legal, government, survey, planning...). Informed and motivated citizens, capable to investigate and take action when something is amiss. “By the people, for the people.”

Although I applaud C4C for offering interesting meetings for folks to gather and practice community and civility, C4C is not an action group. That’s not their purpose, and that’s great. Just the same, I’ve yet to hear a C4C member speak out in favor of the mega-gas-station or careless overdevelopment. Much the opposite. They seem vested in our town and committed to Sisters’ harmonious future.

On the same token, I’ve met no one involved in CATS who doesn’t care deeply about community and civility. They are committed to maintaining livability and protecting small business prosperity, and they support thoughtful growth and future resilience—with civility. A definition on civility reads: “treating others with dignity, courtesy, respect, and polite consideration...and giving others the right to express themselves even if you disagree.”

Because there are times we don’t agree. There are times when someone needs to speak up and politely ask questions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always reap results or answers, but on the other side of the coin, civility should ensure the right to ask without being ridiculed, belittled, or ignored.

What’s troubled me lately is this innuendo, quietly circulating like twisted middle-school gossip, the impression that CATS members are a bunch of ill-tempered complainers who just want to stir up trouble. I’ve even heard a teasing “hiss” sound at the mention of CATS. Really? Is that civility? And where does it originate from?

And to clear the air, I do not believe C4C is responsible for this slippery false narrative. On the same token, I do not believe CATS members are rebels without a cause. They are simply truth seekers looking for honest answers. If questioning city issues that negatively impact our community is “uncivilized” what are we to do? Sit by and say nothing? Are my naysayer neighbors right? Is it really too late? I sure hope not, because I love Sisters! And I’m glad to see it continue to grow and change, but in a thoughtful and purposeful way that encourages real community.


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