Bend has always been a boom-and-bust town, but this time, we have less historical precedent to be able to understand what happens next. What we are witnessing, in its current form, may never happen again.
During this recent lockdown, society has been in a collective pause; a holding pattern that has meant we've been able to sit, think and evaluate—perhaps for the first time—in our lives. We hope people use this time to think deeply about what isn't serving us, and to rethink individual choices—a good example being our global supply chains and the positive impact buying local can have on our neighbors.
This period in history has shown us how inextricably connected we are. We'd like to think that people would have used this time to contemplate the enormity of what has happened and why it happened – and try to not do the things that contribute to a similar outcome again. However, this reopening weekend, all of that came into sharp relief against our base instincts as humans, who prefer not to be caged.
Judging by the crowds in Bend this reopening weekend, our community is showing the signs of being cooped up for too long. The solution to those woes was food, drink and browsing shops and sidewalks. The Deschutes River Trail, busy even during lockdown, wouldn't be cowed by a little May rain, and was packed with walkers, joggers and revelers. Many bars were overflowing. Most restaurants ran on a mellower mood, complying with the regulations put before them for Phase One of the governor's reopening plan.
At this point in the pandemic, some will continue to comply with the governor's cumbersome reopening regulations and will wear masks in public and stay 6 feet from others. Others will openly flout the guidelines. With little to no enforcement, besides the half-hearted suggestions by state officials to report worker safety complaints to OSHA, businesses flouting the rules won't face much scrutiny. The businesses that choose to ignore guidelines and let people pack their establishments may, in the end, be the ones to financially make it. This is a tough balancing act that, barring enforcement, puts the onus on business owners to put community first.
During this time, it is up to every one of us to dig deeply, and to think creatively in order to balance the competing demands of community health with economic prosperity for the people who live here. This has always been a delicate teeter-totter, and it will never be easy.
As we look inward, at our own business, it feels good to be back putting papers on stands, knowing not only that we are providing a valuable service to the community, but also that we have used our time off to focus on the necessary precautions to help us move forward. Our readers, too, have adapted, coming forward by the hundreds to support and become members of our membership program, Source Insider, in order to see local journalism thrive. We thank you all for that. For those who only read us in print before quarantine, we invite you to check out our daily email newsletter, Cascades Reader—yet another adaptation we've made to our news offerings to continue serving our community. We continue to innovate while experiencing the uncertainty that every small business in America is feeling right now. The journalism teeter-totter is tough, but we are bolstered by the support of our community and excited about the changes.
When faced with the economic annihilation that is plaguing so many businesses right now, we know it's difficult to make the right choices in the name of the greater good. But before, and as we emerge from this collective nightmare, each of us has the power to decide what sort of Bend we want to see emerge. Which establishments we want to thrive. How we want our community to look when this is over. Because what we do right now is what will sow those seeds.