The JOY of Reflections on a New Year

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution…if something needs changing, improving, accomplished…my approach is to jump right on it. This works well if you really know what the challenge is, but not so well if the new path isn’t clear. Ready, fire, aim might get you into trouble unless you’re willing to accept the risk of opening the wrong door.

As you read 2016 is officially over and it appears there’s a lot of things we would like to forget, but the aftermath of several events will live with us for a long time. My hope is that there will be some grace in the changing White House and the original picture presented will not be the future.

The demise of Arts Central seemed like a blow to the arts community until Bend Parks & Rec agreed to continue arts education at the Arts Station (thank you) while the Arts & Culture Alliance has become the fiscal sponsorship of the Deschutes Cultural Coalition, part of the Oregon Cultural Trust. The Alliance is a strong organization bringing arts groups around the region together in a positive collaboration.

Reflecting on how this magazine and the purveyors of art in our community fit into the new year is pretty simple…engaging art and culture in our daily lives enriches our life experiences. The beauty of this resolution is that there’s no risk, every door opened in the arts arena will be rewarding.

Investment in the arts and cultural resources are benefiting our economy by supporting job growth, stimulating commerce and sustaining neighborhoods by stabilizing property values.

The Bend Cultural Tourism Fund is proving to be an enriching prospect and economic advantage for Bend attracting cultural tourists during the shoulder seasons and winter months (local occupancy rates are up 13 percent).

The public funding to the arts helped launch the Bend Design Conference, enhance marketing for Bend Film, assemble the Opening Japan: Three Centuries of Woodblock Prints exhibit at Atelier 6000, help commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War II with the High Desert Homefront project at the High Desert Museum and continue support of the Bend A Cappella Festival at the Tower Theatre.

Creativity abounds in Central Oregon where communities benefit in multiple ways when there is a vibrant arts and culture base, which play an important role in improving the lives of ordinary people. People who engage in the arts are the ones who are helping our communities thrive.

If you’re like me and don’t make resolutions that can only be forgotten, broken and unreachable then think about putting a little more art into your life: visit at least one of our regional museums, attend a theatre performance and a concert, stay a little longer at a new gallery exhibit…partake of the enriching world of culture that is there to be enjoyed.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of day-to-day life with worldwide security distractions, political disparities and personal challenges. By exposing ourselves to culture, we remove ourselves from some of this insanity, our old routines and we get out of our comfort zones, altering our perspective.

By participating in culture and being exposed to different forms of art, you broaden the ways in which you can express yourself. It opens up your way of thinking so even if you’re not actively creating art, your ability to express yourself and communicate with others is enriched.

I hope you will consider joining me in the Bend JOY Project created by the Old Mill District that will be launched at the beginning of January. The intent is to generate more positivity, cultivate a stronger feeling of connection and fuel a community of happier citizens. There is a cultural groundswell to embrace wholesome messaging, positive stories, inspirational content and empowering action. Look around you and you’ll fine that your friends are craving community oriented positivity and the Bend JOY Project hopes to embrace this discourse.

The goal is to engage the entire community with a graphic campaign that utilizes inspirational words, messaging, traits and actions to inspire each of us to play a role in community culture, happiness, well-being and quality of life. Check it out at and join us in this effort.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. ~ Christopher McCandless (1968-1992 was an American hiker and itinerant traveler whose life story was made into the documentary The Call of the Wild)

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