By Ward Hubbell, President

Shortly after moving to Oregon, I wandered down to the mailbox of my brand new (to me) Lake Oswego home and found myself in a conversation with my mail carrier about crabbing on the Oregon coast. While this might not sound unusual to most folks around here, that encounter – and what happened two days later – was extraordinary to me.  Not only had I actually had a conversation my mail carrier (a first for me), but later that week I ended up in the Tillamook Bay with him and our preschool-aged daughters checking crab traps. The reason this experience stuck in my mind is because it was the first of many times I experienced just how open people in this part of the world are to outsiders and how willing they are to let them into their lives – particularly if it involves some shared outdoor passion. You see, I grew up in a place – the Mississippi Delta – where people are known for being friendly, but are not nearly as quick to let a stranger into their lives, particularly not one from as far away as I had come.

Fast forward 21 years and I am running a Portland-based public affairs firm that has recently expanded into Bend. Shortly after opening our Bend office, I began to hear about the growth debate there – specifically, that some Bendites felt the city had gotten too big and were discouraging people from moving there. That wonderful memory of the Tillamook Bay flashed into my mind — had Bend and maybe even the state of Oregon become tired of the infusion of outsiders to this awesome and beautiful place and become less willing to welcome outsiders into their communities and into their lives? Our recently published report – “It’s not about Growth” – examines the tortured relationship Bend has had with growth and attempts to shed some light on that question. Spoiler alert – concerns about growth is a thing in Central Oregon but it’s not as simple as you might think.

Read the full report at