Little Free Libraries of Bend

Since we started traveling 3 years ago, I’ve really enjoyed the Little Free Libraries found in many towns and cities. Sometimes I find just a few, but in Bend we are blessed with many. I’m always amazed to find some in out of the way neighborhoods and just a month ago one popped up down the street from us. Kudos to the kind folks who put them up and those who keep them going by donating books. And thanks to the folks at Little Free Library for the inspiration!

I have done a couple short bike tours to find some of our local libraries. Many were close to home but I found one way out on Bearwallow Road near the Tumalo Falls turnoff. I bet it doesn’t get too many visitors but it must be nice for the small community out there.

One of my favorite aspects of the libaries is that they are all unique. Some are built from new materials while some are built from found and recycled treasures.

It’s rare to see a library that isn’t busting at the seams with books like this one here.

Some are small and compact, but all of them are free and there is never anyone to shussh you for being too noisy!

Many are robust and appear to be built to last for a couple generations.

Others have favorite lines from the builder’s reading, and almost all are festive and welcoming.

What about your neighborhood or town? Do you have little free libraries to visit?

My Midterm Campaign Experience

Well, we lost. I knew it was a long shot but with all the enthusiasm for Jamie I thought we had a chance. Jamie got almost 40% of the vote and Walden got 57%. Better than any recent run against Walden but it’s hard to see how a Democrat wins this district without turning out non-affiliated voters in a big way and I don’t think we generated enough enthusiasm to do that.

I canvassed, called, texted, and helped organize events in Deschutes County. I was excited to see the volunteer support for Jamie’s message and the desire for change. There were some volunteer heroes who consistently put in 20, 30 and even more hours every week. These people give me hope. Some of these folks had jobs, families, and a lot of reasons NOT to be involved. For some, all those things WERE the reasons to be involved. They inspired me to do more.

I like to remember all the positive interactions, but realize we need to deal with the following if we want to become a better Republic:

‘I hate Trump so I’m not going to vote’

‘I hate both parties’

‘I’m working 2 jobs plus raising kids so don’t have time to read about the candidates’

‘I’m apolitical’

The above are quotes (or the best that I can remember) from citizens who don’t think they have enough of a stake to mark a ballot and mail it in. Oregon makes it so easy to vote and still many don’t. Imagine the barriers in states where citizens are actively dissuaded from voting.

In this Oregon midterm, 68% of those eligible sent in ballots. So, 1 person in 3 didn’t care or felt it was too much trouble. Nationwide, we are told to celebrate the fact that 47% of those eligible voted. If we were a new democracy (or Republic in our case), one would be dismayed by such a low participation rate.

How do we fix this? How do we get more people to vote? Nationwide, participation by youth (18-29 years old) was said to be just 31%. So, the group with the longest time remaining on this planet hardly participated and we (progressive) oldsters are wishing they had.

It’s easy to say that Trump’s base doesn’t support democracy as this text exchange suggests (to be fair it might be just an auto-correct issue) but clearly we have the fight of our lives ahead of us if we want to avoid sliding further into authoritarianism.

What do you think? How do we get more people involved and interested in the issues, not just slogans and propaganda?

Bend Trail Work

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I’ve landed in Bend in the last month and I think we’re going to stay for a while. Being on the move for the last 13 months has been fun and rewarding but it’s time to stay somewhere for a bit longer and Bend feels like the right spot.

I’m fortunate to find a number of volunteer opportunities and particularly to find that COTA (Central Oregon Trail Alliance) is such a force for good here. They have been creating and maintaining trails for over 25 years and seem to be very well organized.

Yesterday, I joined a group of about 20 other trail workers to get our Level 1 Trail Steward Training. Everyone seemed to have experience and we made fast work of repairs on the COD trail. It made for a fun and rewarding day – I’ll definitely be back.

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