Alyson Brown, 36, outside her home

Shimiko introduced me to Alyson. I didn't know her, but I was familiar with her name as she has been following this project on Instagram since it's early days, coming to know about it after I featured her friend, Libby. She also knows a handful of other people I've interviewed, which seems to be a testament to the quality of this community. I met Alyson in her home and we got right to the interview. She wasn't feeling at the top of her health game on this particular morning, but she was gracious enough to keep our appointment and managed it just fine. It's obvious that her relationships and her work mean very much to her, as does her role as a mother.

Who are you and how would you describe yourself?

I am Alyson Brown. I'm a mom, a wife, a Oregon transplant from Florida - I connect with that a lot. A flower lover, plant lover, animal lover. 

What matters to you? What motivates you?

I tend to stay really busy. I get bored easily, so a lot of my motivation comes from not wanting that boredom. I'm constantly thinking about something to do next. What's my next big project? I've gone through a couple different things in my lifetime and I think that having something creative really motivates me and something that's, I don't know, inspiring for me that other people also can resonate with is kind of cool. 

Do you have a sense of purpose?

I do. Lately, I've been tuned into the idea of having past lives. And I feel like this life, for me, is very... I'm meant to do something with flowers. I feel like I've always just kind of had this connection to them. And I think that definitely people have a set path on things that they can do. I mean, yeah, that path can change and it can vary from person to place to... yeah, I grew up in Florida and here, now, I'm in Central Oregon. And I hated the high desert when we first moved here; I was like, It's brown, it's dirty, it's dusty. I can't wear white ever! And now I've just embraced it and I love the desert. I love the sagebrush. I don't know, I feel like people definitely have a certain purpose to what they do - what their outcome is. 

Where do you suppose that comes from?

I think a lot of it has to do with people that you're around. I think that a lot of my soulful inspiration comes from a community of women that I had been involved with last year and just having more of a deeper spiritual connection with myself and with plants - something that I just never really would have thought about in the first place. But then, also kind of thinking back to childhood memories like running around my house and smelling orange blossoms or gardenias or something and it's just kind of this instinctual thing that... I don't really know where it comes from, but I think that it's kind of engrained in you. 

What does community mean to you?

Community is a group of people - like-minded people - that help each other and kind of build each other up. There's this community of women in Bend and community of artists in general that I don't really think that I have felt that anywhere else. And I think because it is a tight-knit in Bend... I mean, yeah, it's a bigger city, but because it is kind of small, people are able to connect with each other and build more of a community. Yeah, I just think that having a smaller knit in the community - it's helpful for me to want to build relationships and to evolve as who you are and who you want to see yourself as.

What do you think we mean to each other person to person within our different communities? 

Inspiration? Support, definitely. I think I wouldn't be where I was right now if it weren't for a community of friends that I have and people who have supported me in my life. I mean, my family, in particular. I definitely think that's important. 

What do you think about the people that make up your community that aren't like-minded and that don't share your value system? 

I don't know that I really think about that. That's something I definitely should think about more. I mean, everyone's entitled to their opinion. And, I mean, I'm sure not everybody's gonna like my style of design or not everybody's gonna like rose spray (laughs). You know, to each their own, I guess. And for the people who maybe aren't quite sure that they don't like it there's always the Hey, you want to check this out? kind of thing. I don't know. It's kind of a tough question. 

What do you think your role is in the fight against social injustice? 

I think a lot of the basis of social injustice is really unfair. I think that there's no reason that anyone should be treated differently for who they are and what they believe in and what clothes they wear, how they go about their life. And I think what I'm doing about it is teaching my kids the importance of treating everybody fairly and treating people how they want to be treated. I kind of look back to how my parents raised me and when I went out into the world, I represented my family and respect was a very, very important thing that I learned. You know, having respect for elders, having respect for just anybody, in general. I look back and I don't even really think that I noticed that there was a difference in color of skin until somebody pointed it out. And I just hope that my kids can learn that and kind of take that next step. I mean, I'm hoping that I'm taking that next step by telling them, We shouldn't treat anybody differently because they are gay, they are a different color of skin... that's my hope that by engraining it into the next generation that something's gotta give. It's sickening - some of the stuff that goes around. I don't know. I have a hard time with it. 

Do you find that other moms in your circle are trying to instill the same sense of moral and equality? 

I think so. Going back to the like-minded question from earlier, I try to surround myself with people who are good for me. Not to sound selfish about picking who my friends are, but I'm not gonna be around somebody who's negative. I can think of people in my past who are blatantly racist and they're not my friends anymore. It's a hard topic for me to get into with people, especially if it's something that... someone who was your friend and when you just don't see eye to eye, it's hard to really keep that relationship up. But as for my group of friends here, I feel like we're all kind of on the same level; we are actively trying to do things within our community; we are supportive of each other. I mean, I have all sorts of friends. As undiverse as Bend really is, I'm, I don't know, doing my part. 

It seems like a lot of people are doing their part, yet things are pretty messy. I wonder what's happening.

(Sighs) I mean, I could talk on and on about how I'm not fond of our governmental situation right now, but I think that, you know, that top level is what needs to change. I mean, there's so much that I just don't agree with that I just don't feel is right with how things are happening. I don't want to delve too much into my personal thoughts on that, but I just think that there's a lot that needs to change; there's a lot of people that need more educating on why this is not the right thing to do. Like why we should be treating people equally. I mean, we're all humans; we're all made up of the same stuff. It's... I don't know... it seems like a no-brainer, but yet it's just getting worse, I guess. 

What do you want more of in your life? 

My first instinct is to same time (laughs). Joy. I think about the days that just everything feels good. My grandmother's sick now and I just think about how I wish that I had more time with her. And, I guess, more time with family to just do things that are fun and exciting and... you know, get out there and travel or instead of sitting on the computer working, just throw it all away for the day and say, Let's go ride bikes! And, you know, maybe to say yes more to them - to my kids. Yeah, I think wanting more time is definitely applicable to a lot of things; like more time to get work done, more time to renovate the house, more time to plant in the garden, more time to be with my family, with my kids. Yeah, I feel like I could go on and on about things that I want more time to do (laughs). 

What do you wish for the future?

World peace. No. I guess just, I don't know, the future is so unsettling for me. Actually thinking about the things that are out of my control that might happen in the future, I wish that there was more that one little person with two hands could do. I guess that's part of the building community of people with both their hands to help and mouths to speak to do things. And I wish that our planet would be around for longer than it looks like it's going to be with all of the plastics and the things that we've just introduced into the world that are slowly killing it. I don't know, sometimes it makes me scared to think about when my kids are older. What's the situation gonna be like when I'm not here and dead and gone? Hopefully teaching them and instilling some of these ideas... be nice to other people... as simple as that sounds, I hope that that can help change things. Or saying something like, Don't leave the water on when you're brushing your teeth. I mean, they'll be in there with the water on! I'm like, What are you doing? You're out here - the water needs to be off! Just kind of trying to get some of these ideas into their heads. I don't know. I hope for the future that we can all figure out how to work together. It seems like there's so much potential for the better good if people could just work together to make it work. Be nice!