Dan Duggan, 68, at his home

I met Dan through Betsy Warriner. She had a small group of people over to her house to make some early plans for a new organization called Community Conversations. Dan was one of those folks. At the end of the meeting and after having been around him for an hour or so, I asked him to take a look at this project and see if it was something he’d want to participate in. He contacted me shortly after, saying he was in. So I met him at his house and we had a really lovely chat. Dan exudes kindness with his eyes and his tone and matches it with his words and actions. It all seems to match up with him. He’s the kind of man I aspire to be. My life hasn’t been full of positive male role-models, so I’m really pleased to know Dan and to call him a friend. 


I would start by saying that I'm a creative person. And my work, well, I spent 30 years in hi-tech - running companies. And I spent the last 15 years as a consultant, sharing what I learned as a leader in business with other business leaders. And the big thing I learned was that if you lead from your heart and let it inform your head, you're gonna make a whole lot better decisions and your company will be more successful and your team will be way more productive and happy. So that's what I do in my work is I try to help business leaders find that place, you know, that experience inside that says, Oh, I know who I am and I can just be that. Instead of trying to be something that they're not. Or whatever the picture of the year is of what a great leader is supposed to be. That screwed me up for decades (laughs). I work as an executive coach; I work as a consultant inside businesses because I've got a lot of operational experience, but mainly I work on how people relate to each other so that they can talk about the real things and they can support each other in accomplishing something that matters to all of them. 

Who are you?

I am a 68-year old male, white, Irish background, born in Portland, Oregon. Grew up in Seattle, Washington, moved back to Portland in my early 30s, and then migrated to Bend in 2015. Married, five children, four grandchildren. Singer-songwriter as a creative thing that I like to do. Public speaker. Grandfather, father, hopefully successful husband. My wife and I have been together - second marriage for me - for 20 years, well 26 years, we're celebrating our 20th anniversary in October. We're gonna go back to where we had our honeymoon in New Mexico. What else? I'm a person who loves the outdoors, so I'm a runner. I've run five marathons - my favorite one was Boston in 2009. I am a spiritually aware person, so I know I've got a heart and I know it's connected to something bigger than me and that everything is connected and that there's something out there that's bigger than all of us that is taking care of things and taking care of me. And I actually can connect with that and know that I'm okay so when stuff happens that I don't like, don't want, or don't know what to do with, I can go back to that place that says, Yes, but you're okay. And that's part of what I like to share with other people. There's probably more, but there you go (smiles). 

What brings you to Bend?

It's like when I come over the pass from the valley, something happens - I just relax. And I just know like I'm home, like I belong here. So it's the smell of the pine trees, it's the beauty of the bark, it's the underbrush compared to what it is on the other side - while it's really lush and beautiful over there, there's something accessible about this side. It's the lakes, it's the river, it's the mountains. It's the friendliness, it's the accessibility of the people. I've been so energized and impressed with how people care about where they live. And they're just outgoing. Have I run into a cranky person yet? I'm not sure. Not one I can recall. 

What does community to you?

It is a magical thing that occurs when people are willing to let go of their judgments and biases and just accept each other for who they are and appreciate who they are. And then this magic thing happens where people come together, sometimes it's around a cause, but it can happen in groups of two, it can happen in groups of 500, and it's fleeting, I think. It isn't all the time because the judgments and biases get in the way and this desire to sell your point of view instead of be open to the other person's point of view gets in the way of community. It's owning your own crap and admitting that we all have them - we all have judgments and biases - but setting that aside and saying, Who is this person sitting in front of me right now? And who are these people I'm interacting with right now? And what do they have to offer? And what can I learn? And what can I share? To me, that's community. 

Has community always been something you've sought? 

You know, I don't think so. I think there was a big part of my life, in fact it still is true, I'm a bit of an introvert. So, I'm really comfortable being on my own. I can entertain myself really easily (laughs). Reading, working puzzles, I love the newspaper, watching sports, playing music - so it isn't like I've got to have people around me, but when it happens it is so rich and so fulfilling that it's better than anything else at the same time. People that are labeled an extravert, you know, need that interaction all the time. I don't. I'm more comfortable doing what we're doing right now. Particularly if it's a schmooze kind of thing and it's all chit-chat - pseudo community, I call it. Not fulfilling, don't like those things. I'd rather have something meaningful happen. 

What motivates you now to want community? 

Well, first, there's a need. When I look at what's happening in our country and, of course, what you see on the news which is carefully selected to get our attention and fear and loathing and all that stuff. But I know there's so much more positive things going on. And we need that. And we need to figure out how to bridge the divide by being curious about what's going on with other people. And when I do that, I discover that they're a whole lot more like me than not. And when we can relate on a human level, then all that other stuff is more noise and doesn't have to create the wall that's up there. That's the first thing - there's a need for people to come together and find out that we're all pretty much human beings doing the best we can do. Then secondly, it's way richer and more fulfilling, yeah rich is the right word. The experience of life is just better, you know, when people are able to communicate with each other and be with each other in that way. 

What's your favorite thing about this community? 

The friendliness. The accessibility. They talk about six degrees of separation, I think it's like two in Bend. I keep running into people - this happens all the time - and I do a lot of networking because I'm trying to grow a business base here since I was Portland-centric for so long. And what I find is when we start talking, we all know somebody mutually that we didn't know we knew and it's pretty cool. So I really like that. I like that people care about where they live. I like the size of Bend. You know, in Portland anymore, you don't know if it's going to take 15 minutes or two hours to get from Point A to Point B because the traffic has just gotten so terrible. And the experience of being in traffic isn't a fun one. Here, the longest trip is 20 minutes. You can drive to Sisters in a half an hour - you can be in a-whole-nother city. So when people complain about the traffic here, I just kind of chuckle (laughs). Compared to what? You know? I got 16 cars that are backed up at a circle, but that's gonna clear in like three minutes and then I'm on my way again. And that's the worst of it!

And there's a lot going on. I mean, there's a ton of stuff going on - a lot of creative things. There's great music here, great restaurants. There's theater, there are just tons of activities for free and for not, the access to the river. Depending on how fast I run, I'm like 45 seconds from a trail (laughs) from my front door. Then I can run for an hour or two without having to be on a street. So, what's not to like? 

Do you have thoughts regarding Bend's growth? 

I am concerned that it could be, because other cities have experienced this, just growth for the sake of growth. But I don't really worry too deeply about that - I mean, it's very challenging. Particularly the rate of growth - the number of people that move here. I read somewhere it's 14 people a day move to Bend and that's accelerating. But I've been lucky enough to be exposed to the people that are working on how do we grow in a holistic way that retains the quality of life here in Bend that attracted people to be here to start withBend2030 is a great organization - I know Erin Foote-Morgan. I'm a facilitator for Opportunity Knocks. It's peer mentoring groups and there are 26 of them in Bend. This is like unheard of. Primarily people in business, but from all different walks of life. The one that I'm facilitating currently (and I'm going to be moving on to facilitating another pretty soon) is people that are involved the conversations around How do we grow? and How do we grow in a holistic way? So Bend2030, the City Club, Chamber, and a bunch of other nonprofit organizations that are in that group - so I'm in those conversations with people. Betsy's part of that. That's how I met Betsy because she was a member of Opportunity Knocks early on when I started facilitating that group. So there's many, many people - this is why I don't worry - that are really more than interested, they're invested in making sure that everything's considered when we grow so that the quality of life is retained. And that's a tall order. And there is this East/West divide. And part of the city planning that was done when they put in the parkway - I've learned because I wasn't here when that happened - has exacerbated that problem. There's not a lot of easy ways to get across. I think there's a mindset, too - I think it's more imagined than real in my experience when I actually talk to people, but it's not untrue - that there's the affluent and then the other people. So somehow that's got to be part of it. How do we bring everybody together? And transportation is a big piece of it. Including people in conversations about how we grow is really important and Bend2030, in particular, and what Betsy's trying to do is part of that - is part of not leaving anybody out of the conversation so everybody's needs are considered. And the economy is beginning to become more diverse. But it's a lot of start-up and there's a lot of people - you and I are part of that; we're dabbling in a lot of different stuff to make things work, right? - are in that mode here. But it's also a choice. They want to live here, so they're willing to do that. I don't get a big sense of entitlement from people that are willing to do what they need to do to be able to be part of this community. So, I don't know if that answers your question. It's a very big challenge and it's on us right now and it's going to continue to be on us. As long as enough people are conscious and are having these conversations and are willing to consider everybody's point of view and include those in how we grow, then I think we've got a shot at doing it pretty well. Yeah. 

What do you wish for the future?

Well, first that we retain and expand this friendliness - this experience of community that already exists here. That what attracted people here is maintained and not distorted or warped or tainted somehow. That that purity of intention is still there. For me personally, I want to continue to be active in community affairs. I want to give, when I can. I'm at that point in life where, you know, I'm available to give back. I want to pursue my creative urge more. So that's going to show up in music and speaking, primarily. I've dabbled in improv - that's a kick. So stuff like that, you know? Kind of being out there and being visible and sharing what's in my heart that I think will be useful to other people. And having time to travel. My wife and I like to take off and see places.

How do you pronounce your last name? 

Well, it depends on where you live. So it's interesting you're from the East Coast. Back there it's Duggan. And it's spelled that way. There's a story about that. My dad, Frank - Francis Xavier - good Catholic, Irish kid, was in the army in World War II. He was stationed in Montgomery, Alabama - did his basic training there. And the drill sergeant said, "Dugan!" And my dad corrected him and said, "No, it's Duggan." And he said, "Not here, you're Dugan. And I'm the drill sergeant and you're not." You know, in his face and everything. From that point on, he was Dugan. He met my mom while they were both serving at this air base there. He was in the Army Air Corps and my mom was a trainer in the Army Air Corps and they met and married while they were both in this service. But she was from Portland, so after their service was done, they moved to Portland. So he was Dugie. That was his nickname, Dugie. So, yeah, always been Dugan.