I met Amanda about a year ago at Good Dog, an off-leash dog area just outside of town. Our dogs were playing well together and that got us talking and then we found out we had photography in common and that turned us into casual friends. Then, sometime later, I interviewed and photographed her daughter Arden for this project. We’ve gotten to know each other in fits and spurts and eventually I asked her if she’d be willing to participate here. I haven’t interviewed too many folks that I’ve known beforehand, so it was interesting to feel a bit more relaxed in the processes. And interesting to do two interviews at the same kitchen table separated by many months.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
My name is Amanda Conde and I am a mom to two kids, a wife, an outdoor enthusiast, and photographer here in Bend looking for my next career path.
What motivates you?
Well, obviously my kids - making sure they're leading a healthy and active life. Creating a secure and loving and safe family environment for them. Getting out in the outdoors motivates me a lot. Just knowing that life is short and I want to live each day to its fullest.
I definitely believe that we're all connected - that there's a universal thread through the entire world. I feel a lot of empathy for the people who are suffering, especially in other parts of the world, with everything that's going on right now. And a big part of me thinks about that every day. Wondering what I can do and some days feeling helpless and somedays feeling empowered that if I could help one person, that's enough. But I think it's tragic that there's still war and still people out there who can't accept people for who they are. It just blows my mind that in this day and age that it still exists.
What does community mean to you?
It can mean a lot of different things. It can mean a group of people that share an interest, whether it's in the yoga studio or a group of mountain bikers that enjoy the same activities and that enjoy each other. It can be your neighborhood community with people watching out for each other and sharing and caring and loving each other. And it can be on a larger scale in terms of the global community and what that means as well.
I would say that it means that I know people in that community and understand what is going on with them. And, you know, on a daily basis how we're all living together and how we're reacting to each other and what that energy means in terms of connecting. Whether it's just a hello on the street or having coffee with a friend or knowing that someone is suffering and stopping by to say hello. That's community to me.
What's your role in the fight against social injustice and what gives you hope as a mom?
I definitely believe I'm a role model to my kids. Keeping that conversation alive in our household - we talk about it a lot. My son, especially, is very interested in talking about it and debating it. I want him to be able to speak to both sides and not just read something off the internet and think, Oh, well, this is true. I believe it. I want to be able to have that conversation with both my kids and have them hear my husband and I having that conversation. And not just be apathetic to it all - to know that it's a concern and it exists and it needs to be talked about.
What do you wish for the future?
I wish that borders didn't matter and that people took care of each other. I was just listening to NPR this morning about a water rights battle that's going on between Florida and Georgia and it just amazes me that we have these borders that we've created and that it's a state versus a state. Versus okay, there's people in both states that need water. Why is it a battle between these two state governments instead of people need water, what are we going to do about it? I just wish that we could all lay down our arms and decide what's going to be good for everybody as a whole and make it happen.
Is that gonna happen?
No. I think history is repeating itself as educated people say it will. I can't foresee that happening with human nature as it is.
If you can't see that happening, then what do you wish for the future that you can see happening?
I guess in terms of what I would like to foresee happen that is possible is for our country that people don't need to fret so much over getting an education financially. It's a shame that it's becoming an elitist advantage or privilege to go to college. And healthcare - I believe everyone should have affordable or free healthcare. And I believe that if you work hard you should be entitled to, at one point, retire without worrying like we all do. So, I guess maybe I'm a socialist at heart (laughs).
What's keeping us down?
I don't think that we've been educated or shown a model of If you do this you will affect this change, so I think most of us feel pretty helpless. You know, if I take out an op-ed in the Bulletin, is it really gonna change anything? No. If I write my senator, is it gonna change anything? I don't feel like it's going to at this point, honestly. I guess if there were 20,000 of us ready to write our senator about something in that collective movement, I would feel perhaps that it would make a change. But I as an individual, changing that big system, I don't feel like that's something that I can do.
At the beginning of December, I had had it with Trump and was like, Okay, I'm going to do something. Being that I'm a photographer, I was thinking of what I could do in terms of some kind of campaign to let people say, You suck and I am disgusted with you! I thought I could take pictures of people holding up a sign with what they would like to say to Trump if they could stand in front of him and say anything. You know, have an open studio somewhere where people could come write this and hold it up and get their photograph and post it on Twitter for all my five Twitter followers (laughs). And, you know, maybe it would grow, but then I think of all the energy that goes into something like that - is it really going to make a difference?
You have anything else you'd like to put out there? Something you want to put on your sign?
Oh gosh, in all my 51 years of wisdom? I just wish we could all be nice to each other. I don't know if people are angry and stressed out and are at that level where anything just... like they can snap and get pissed off. I am a cyclist and I had come up to a roundabout and apparently pissed off a road biker and he spit on the trunk of my car and I just was like, Okay, he doesn't know me. I'm a perfectly nice person. Why on Earth would you just not be able to forgive a slight to you? Everybody needs to be kind to each other and more forgiving and, yeah, just give each other a break.