Women's Issue: Important conversations emerge when we acknowledge our diversity | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Women's Issue: Important conversations emerge when we acknowledge our diversity

This week, Editor Nicole Vulcan has elected to write a personal note to readers, in honor of the 2019 Women's Issue.

Every year, the Source dedicates one issue to highlighting the work of some of the women doing impactful work around social, environmental and cultural change in our community. Some years, we've elected to name a Woman of the Year, placing special focus on one woman whose work has stood out in the past year.

Last year, as the #MeToo movement was firing along, I made the decision to highlight a group of women, as opposed to naming just one woman, because feminism, in my mind, asks us not to herald and heroize lone individuals—but instead, to raise the voices of the many whose voices are marginalized, underrepresented or ignored in society. From that frame of mind, it was challenging for me to name just one woman warrior who deserved the Woman of the Year title.

This year is a new year. The recent iteration of the #MeToo movement—while facing scrutiny for its focus largely on white women as victims—still has relevance—as does the call for us to honor the underrepresented. (Bend will have the great privilege to hear from MeToo's original creator, Tarana Burke, this very week, at the Muse Conference.) Still, one woman's work in our community has stood out to me as something our community needs to hear right now—whose work, both in her career and in her personal life, has involved reminding our community that not everyone looks alike, and that our community can do better to respect the diversity that exists here.

The work of Erika McCalpine, an instructor of business at Oregon State University-Cascades, has reminded me once again that it is a misstatement for us to continue to say, "Bend is so white." Indeed, Bend is majority white—but it does the people of color who live and work and play here a disservice to continue to bandy that phrase around, as if no one of color exists in this space. When we begin to acknowledge that we are a diverse community, we can begin the sometimes challenging, often rewarding work of raising the voices of the marginalized, underrepresented and ignored.

Because McCalpine's work as an educator and speaker has been so absolutely relevant at this moment in Bend's history, I have elected to take on a hybrid approach to the Woman of the Year. I hereby name her our Woman of the Year—but as I do that, I have also opted to form a "Pay It Forward" style women's issue, in which I asked McCalpine to name a woman she believes is doing good work in our community. Then, that woman recommended someone else, and her someone else, and so on. This approach seems so much more relevant than simply naming one Woman of the Year.

As the region's population continues to grow, Bend and Central Oregon sit at a crossroads. We can continue to honor the traditions of community and a love of the outdoors that have made this region so desirable—but as we do that, we can also do better to honor, acknowledge and welcome the growing diversity that will make our community even greater. We here at the Source hope to be at the forefront of the conversations about how to do that, and we hope the 2019 Women's Issue is just one piece of that vital, ongoing conversation.

Thanks for reading!

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