Several posts ago, I wrote about a woman named Sasha who refers to herself as a networker. Since then, she has proved that to be very true by connecting me with many people, all of whom have been very interesting in very different ways. Sasha works with Erin at Humm Kombucha, but recommended her to me because of her work with the Outdoor Women's Alliance. Erin is a hoot. She's got a great laugh and a very healthy dose of that New England grit that I don't see quite as much of these days.
Who are you?
I am Erin Pryor. I am originally from New England, which I'm super proud of. Even though I guess I act like I'm not. The first thing my boyfriend ever said to me before we were together was, "Where are you from because you have a New England accent?" I guess I was angry about it. (Laughs) But the more people I talk to, the more I'm super proud of it. I'm from Connecticut originally. It's a cool place. I mean, the Final Four this year was hard for me, but I think it was hard for everybody, Ducks included. I graduated with a degree in statistics. I'm very STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) oriented. I like math a lot, which is weird, I guess. I'd rather work with numbers than work with literature. I don't know. And then I got bored of that and moved to Korea. I was an English teacher. I was a scuba diving instructor. I traveled all over the place. My dream job was to work with a tour guiding company, which I did for a bunch of years. I traveled all throughout the Continental U.S. and it was super rad. I was a trekking guide in southern Patagonia, which there isn't beauty like Patagonia. Bend's beautiful but something about southern Chile is just mind-blowing. My friend put on Facebook that she needed a roommate or she had an extra room in Bend or if anybody knew anybody in Bend, would they want a room. I just needed a room anywhere and I was at this point 26,27 - a couple of years ago - and I didn't want to move in with my parents. I needed a room anywhere, so I took it site unseen and just moved to Bend (laughs). Yeah, super jumped in. I love Bend. I started running an NGO (non-governmental organization) recently to get women outdoors, which I'm super proud of. It's called the Outdoor Women's Alliance. We just did a big movie at the Tower. I filled the Tower - I was very proud of that. We're doing a writing workshop next week. Bend's super broey, which works for the bros, but it's really intimidating to get started snowboarding or mountain biking or anything, so I just try to get women out. Realizing it doesn't have to be awful. Nobody starts as an expert, as much as everybody in Bend wants you to think they start as an expert. It's super fun. We just got NGO status this year. There are seven chapters and I run the Central Oregon chapter. I have a few other leaders that help out, but I've been doing a lot of work since last July. We go hiking, we have a Pole, Pedal, Paddle team that does pretty well, snowshoeing. It's just a way for women to meet and connect and realize that the outdoors doesn't have to be awful and doing things outdoors doesn't have to be awful. I really like it. I think it's really important, especially in this political climate, where not necessarily that women are getting beaten down more, but I feel like after Hillary lost women are back at "Maybe we can't do things". It doesn't matter what other women are doing, you need to do what you want to do.
What do you like about Bend?
I love Bend. I do love the people. I always describe New England as being a little bit more rat racey, where people are more focused on how they can get elevated in their job and they can become junior partners and, for some people that works, and I just realized it wasn't going to work for me. And I was a mathematician and I thought it was going to work and I just didn't want to. So Bend's a little bit more laid back. I think the best thing about the people here is they always want to do stuff. In Connecticut - I'm not bashing my friends if they ever read this - they are kind of hard to wrangle into doing stuff. In Bend it's always like, Oh, the road's open, we should go hiking. And everyone's like, Yeah, totally, why aren't we hiking right now? (Laughs) I really like that and I like that there's always someone around that wants to do something weird and try something new. I like the plethora of abilities to try something new. I like that people in Bend are into it. Some people are very good at things and some people just want to try a little bit of everything, which is probably the camp I fall in.
How do you contribute to the community?
I work for a start-up, which I think is important. Not that tourism or anything like that isn't because I also work in tourism. I'm also one of those people that got kind of complacent this fall and did vote and stuff, but then things obviously didn't work out the way... not obviously, if you're a Trump voter they worked out for you, but they didn't work out for me. And I kind of think America's taking a step back, so I'm currently getting involved in politics. I'm running for Library Board and if I won I would be the only person that was under 75 to represent people in the library. They are all really old, which is awesome that they're still involved, but I think there are a lot of people that are falling through the cracks of what the library could do. So I'm starting with that and hopefully, I don't know, I want to make Bend a better place. I really just try to make my circle a better place to live in and hopefully people make their circle a better place to live in and hopefully, by the end of it, everyone's circle is an amazing place to live in.
There's just so much garbage in the world and there's so much hate. Have you every read the comments on KTVZ or anything? Just like everybody hates each other. For no reason. No one wants to talk to each other. I don't know, I think it's important that everybody talks to each other. I know lots of people that have lots of different views from me on lots of different things. I'm a very outgoing, vocal person. Everybody will tell you that I'm very brazen. Everybody just needs to take a step back. I don't think anybody's trying to hurt each other. I mean there are sociopaths, but...
Do you have thoughts regarding Bend's growth?
I've been here for two and a half years. I came directly from Santa Rosa, California. So I'm probably one of the Get out, Californians!, which might be why I'm so active in the community. I can be a transplant and still love the community as much as the people that have been here multiple generations. And I have lots of friends that are multiple generations and we get along just fine. And they're cool people to talk to. Well I remember when Shevlin-Hixon and the REI wasn't there. That's rad. I only know it as an REI and I'll probably only know it as an REI. I have so many fun memories and friends. I'm a big boater and I think there's really something to be said for having a long day at work and going to Hosmer (because Sparks is always packed, but Sparks is beautiful as well) and just float around and listen to the fishermen swear at the fish and stuff because they can't catch 'em (laughs). When I'm 80 and look back at Bend, I'm really going to enjoy watching the sunset and listening to the fishermen swear when I'm sneaking around in my kayak.
What do you wish for the future?
I'm probably not very original. I just want to be happy and have my happy dog. I live with my boyfriend and we get along and that's super nice. And I would want to see that go on for a while, if not ever. Lots of things stress me out and there are certain days where I forget about them and I'm on the river or on the water or in the mountain and I just don't and I just like being me. And I wake up in the morning and I'm like, Erin Pryor's a cool person to be! And I like that. I like days like that.
I'd like to see the community grow. I'd like to see the community be less aggressive towards transplants, which I'm probably not the only one to say. I feel like there's this whole Us versus Them and why can't it just be Us? Everybody can get along. And everybody can contribute. And everybody can work and play and be happy. When I first moved here I was frisbee golfing with my roommates a lot. And I'm not very good, but I would just tromp around the woods and there was always this fight with the mountain bikers and the frisbee golfers and whose land it was. I don't know. There's like 50 miles out here, why can't I throw a frisbee the same place you ride your bike? I'm not stationary and you're not stationary, so I don't know why we can't work around each other. Maybe that's a metaphor for Bend. Everybody's kind of moving around. We can all work together and make Bend move with us.
Anything else you want to put on the record?
I'm running for the Library Board. Ballots come out in a few weeks and they have to be turned in by May 16. So, I'm in the middle of a campaign right now. (Laughs) I don't even think anybody knows you can vote for Library Board (laughs).