The Perils of "Uniqueness" | The Wandering Eye | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

The Perils of "Uniqueness" 

“Unique” is the most overworked word in the advertising copywriter’s lexicon. Aside from that, I guess there isn’t anything wrong with telling the world that your area is “unique” – unless you start believing it yourself.

We in Central Oregon spent the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s bragging about what a “unique outdoor recreation paradise” we had here. Our scenery was uniquely beautiful, we claimed. Our ski mountain was uniquely mountainous, our bike trails were uniquely bikeable, our golf courses were uniquely golfable, our rivers and lakes were uniquely swarming with fish, and on and on and on.

We repeated the mantra so many times that many of us came to believe it. That in turn allowed us to convince ourselves that people would make any sacrifice and spend any amount of money to own a house here.

Well, folks, here’s a news flash: We are not unique. I just got back from a trip to western Montana, where I was reminded of how un-unique we are.

I flew in to Missoula and made base camp near the little town of Polson, which lies at the southern end of Flathead Lake. From there I explored the Flathead River and the adjacent countryside to the north and east.

Mountain scenery? Dude, they got mountain scenery that’ll knock your socks off. It makes Central Oregon look like Iowa.

Fishing? The lake (the largest natural one west of the Mississippi) and some of the rivers in the area are excellent.

Whitewater rafting and kayaking? Got it.

Mountain biking? Check. Golf? Check.

Climate? Well, it does get pretty cool in the winter (the average January high is about 30 degrees) but the summers are sunny and pleasant, and they’re long and warm enough to grow cherries. Which the local farmers do, by the billions.

The town of Bigfork, at the north end of the lake, is full of those little cutesy-boutiquey shops that tourists love to wander in and out of. There’s a professional summer repertory theater company, which is more than Bend can boast. As an added attraction, Glacier National Park is at the back door. And I hear tell there’s excellent skiing at Whitefish, a short drive to the north.

The area is more remote than Central Oregon, true, but still easily accessible. Horizon has regular flights to Missoula from Seattle and Portland.

The point of all this isn’t that Central Oregon is a bad place or that western Montana is a better place. (I’m definitely not about to move there anytime soon.) The point is that Bend – and Polson and Whitefish and Bigfork – aren’t offering anything that a hundred other pretty places in the intermountain West don’t offer.

So if we want to build a sustainably prosperous local economy, we need to come up with something really unique to market – such as, maybe, a uniquely well-educated and motivated workforce or uniquely excellent public schools.

Pin It

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Coyote Willow @ Crosscut - Warming Hut No. 5

Coyote Willow @ Crosscut - Warming Hut No. 5 - Crosscut Warming Hut No 5

Wed., June 29, 6-8 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in The Wandering Eye

  • Moonshine Magic in Bend Still on the Down Low

    • Aug 9, 2012
    Get ready for our great close-up on the home distilling community out next week in our "Best of" issue. We interviewed a mixed bag of legal and anarchist distillers in Bend to find out why distilling is so very, very against the law in one's home. More »
  • The Eye Wanders Off Into the Sunset

    • Dec 26, 2010
    I’m really sorry to break the bad news to them during this season of peace and goodwill, but after this week the right-wingers in Bend and vicinity won’t have The Wandering Eye to kick around anymore. The decision to stop writing this blog was my own, and it was prompted by several factors. More »
  • DADT, Gay-Bashing and the "Icky-ness" Factor

    • Dec 19, 2010
    For the past week or so, “Zeo” of the NW Republican blog has had his jock strap in a knot over the prospect of Congress repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule. To hear Zeo tell it, if DADT is repealed and gays are allowed to serve openly in the US military it will mean the end not only of our armed forces but of America, its economic system and civilization in general. More »
  • More »

More by The Source Staff

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2022 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation