5 Ways to Connect to Central Oregon Community During COVID-19

Relocating to the Bend, Oregon area? Wondering how it is you’re going to get to know your new community in this era of masks and social distancing? Sure enough, these are strange times, but the crew at Bend Relo is here to tell you: the spirit of our Central Oregon community will not be repressed! Endlessly creative and innovative, we Bendites have found ways to do the things we love to do and share the Central Oregon adventure with others. So, get acquainted with your new home turf and the people who populate it. Start living the dream we all moved here for with these unique opportunities to play, learn and grow while we keep each other safe.


  1. Hit the Trail. One of the glories of living in Bend and Central Oregon is the plethora of beautiful trails right in our collective backyard, and the trails are open! Check out the Trail Locator at Bend Park and Recreation to customize your experience. Explore Shevlin Park and Sawyer Park in Northwest, Bend, bike Larkspur Trail through Southeast Bend, and take in the mountain views along the canal at Big Sky Park Trail in Northeast Bend. Leash up the dog and get out there. Distancing rules apply.


  1. Grow your own. Summer’s coming on. It’s high time to replace the obsession with sourdough bread baking with a true Central Oregon challenge—gardening! Local nurseries such as Moonfire and Sun Garden Center, declared essential businesses early on, have been running to keep up with local demand for seeds and starters. You can dig into your gardening community and pick up tips with online classes. Oregon State University offers on-demand courses on vegetable gardening, composting, and sustainable landscaping, and Bend Community Garden Happenings has a Facebook page where local gardeners can dish.


  1. Join a workout. Sure, the internet offers dozens, if not hundreds, of virtual workouts, but right now is a wonderful opportunity to dip into a local yoga or barre class and get a feel for the people and instructors that make up the energetic Bend workout community. While studios are gearing up to re-open, check out an audio class and guided meditation at Namaspa, a virtual core-building workout at Bend Pilates, and stretch it out with Juniper Swim & Fitness .


  1. Soak up the culture. No “Things to Do in Bend, OR” is complete without a nod to our amazing High Desert Museum, a jewel of a resource for local history, natural wonder, and art. The museum has responded to recent events with High Desert Museum from Home, a rich collection of videos, virtual tours, and naturalist magic for all ages. The superheroes at the Deschutes Public Library offer abundant community resources, digital downloads, livestream presentations and cosmic conversations. Join the jam with Joe Schulte at String Theory Music. Joe and his merry band of tunesmiths are keeping the song alive with online classes and $2 bluegrass jams. And be sure to pull up a camp chair and listen in on The Source Weekly’s home concert series.


  1. Help a neighbor out. Bendites and Central Oregonians are famously generous with their time and resources, no less true in this socially distanced moment. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding ways to get to know your community and the people in it. Find your way to contribute with Pandemic Partners Bend, a Facebook page organized by First Presbyterian Church and supported by nearly 12,000 members of every and no spiritual denomination. Or get in touch with Volunteer Connect, an organization created to put eager volunteers and opportunities together.


Other ways to tap into the local? The list is virtually endless. Tune into KPOV High Desert Community Radio, 88.9 FM for grassroots talk, podcasts, music and local news. Pick up some takeout from a neighborhood eatery. We may be rocking the masks—but trust us (you can see by our smiling eyes)—we’re happy you’re here.

Irene Cooper

Irene Cooper

Irene Cooper is a poet, novelist, creative copywriter, and 24-year resident of Bend, Oregon, having lived in cities and small towns from New York to Rio de Janeiro to Markleevile, California. When not blogging, Irene dedicates time and energy to expanding and supporting the Central Oregon writing community.

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