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Grow into a Community Where We've Bridged the Gap Between "Us" and "Them" 

Making Central Oregon a better place to live; Bright ideas for a changing community

  • Steve T. Martin Photography
Where are you from? But where are you really from? We are perpetual foreigners in our own community. Our skin, eyes, and hair are always just enough out of place that Central Oregon could never be our home no matter how long we have been here. 

Long story short, we came together because we couldn't find our groceries, so we co-created a virtual space to celebrate our food and myriad cultures, share stories, and crowdsource where to find shaoxing wine, gochugaru, or our favorite noodle. It grew to be a space to share experiences of exclusion, isolation and fear in the wake of anti-Asian violence. And it became one of belonging.

The wishful conversations we've heard in the community is to create a physical space to nurture this sense of belonging—a visible Cultural Community Center to celebrate the diversity of our community. It could be a place for groups like ours to host potlucks. It could have a library for youth and adults with books and movies. There could be language, cooking or dance classes that we could invite the whole community to share with us. The possibilities are endless.

And then maybe, one day, we will grow into a community where we've bridged the gap between "us" and "them" and we can all call Central Oregon home.

—LeeAnn O’Neill is a founding partner of Allyship in Action, a Central Oregon- based equity and social justice consulting company, and helped co-create the group Asians and Pacific Islanders of Central Oregon.

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