Libby Nierman, 33, with daughter Leota, 4, at their home

Sabrina (from the last interview) recommended Libby to me on the premise that she is "amazing and I will love her and I can thank her later". Leota was home "sick", so the three of us chatted in the living room while Libby's mom, Sally, was cooking and wafting lovely smells throughout the house. It turns out that Sabrina was right - Libby and her family are, indeed, amazing. 


Who are you?

Oh, god! (Laughs) Who am I? Well, I am a mom. And I do massage therapy here in town. And I teach yoga. So I like to be an active contributor to the betterment of this world. That is what I try to be. 

Where do you come from? What brought you to Bend?

I come from the Midwest. And I came to Bend by happenstance, really, seeking new opportunities and a different kind of life. I think the better question for me is What keeps me here? I find there's a really good community here and the access to wild spaces and, as far as raising children, Bend is amazing. There's parks and there's other families. There's just a lot of opportunity here that wasn't where I was in the Midwest. So, initially I came out for work, for jobs. My mom has finally stopped asking me when I'm going to move back. (Laughs) Now the question is, When are you going to move here? I'm here because I want to be here. 

What do you like about Bend?

I like that it's small enough that you run into people you know, but it's big enough that you don't know everybody. I think we're at a place where we get to choose what Bend becomes, because it's growing. There's a lot of grumbling about Bend becoming something else that people don't want, but I think this is the chance we all get to make it something even better. Because it's going to happen. If you want to live here, why can't other people live here, too? I try to make this a better place by... (sighs) by doing the work that shows up for me. I try to raise two conscious, thoughtful, little people in the world that are cognizant of their choices and how they impact others. And the work that I do in the world - I do massage therapy - I found myself enjoying it the most because I think that if each person felt a little bit better in their body and more comfortable, how much kinder they are to themselves and then, in turn, to the rest of the people they encounter. You know? And gosh, we need good right now, right? If people could feel better in their body, how much kinder they are outwardly and inwardly. So that is why I do what I do and I am grateful that I get to do that work. 

Libby asks Leota, What's your favorite thing to do here? Leota says, Ummm, play. Libby laughs and says, This is probably true!

I am blessed to have two children, a seven year old (Elliott) and a four year old (Leota), which means I get to spend a lot of time at the parks and that's one of our favorite activities. Just to be outside and explore and meet amazing people that are either passing through or that live here. You know, the thing I love about Bend, and I notice when people visit they mention this, is that people will ask you how you are. And mean it. When my family comes from the Midwest to visit they're like, Everyone looks at you and smiles! So that's one of the things I like about Bend. I think it's a beautiful place and so we're more in the beauty of what it is. I think people are happier here because they surroundings are so lovely. Then they're just kinder and more open. People are people everywhere you go, though,  but more often than not people are outside being active. I like that. 

What do you wish for the future?

For my personal future, I wish to buy a house soon (laughs) so that I can, you know... Bend is so amazing and, yes, people want to be here so the laws of economy apply here as they do everywhere, so supply and demand is happening and more people are coming than there are places for people to be. I wish to have a place that is stable and secure, especially as a mamma, to give my kids a home in this beautiful place so that we can be here and know that we're here and we won't be displaced. We've been displaced twice now just by rising rent and just being on a fixed income. 

At this point Leota invites me over for dinner. 

And so, I hope to build a home. And I am actually working with Habitat for Humanity, which has been the most incredible experience so far in my life to have a house that love built. Love and action is building. People that don't even know me show up and work and donate and volunteer and donate time, energy, money, resources, whatever it is, to make this happen for three people they don't even know. And then, from there, my children get to have a place to grow and to know they have a place to land when things don't work out. In my future I hope to give them that. And I'm throwing myself into that with everything I have. And it looks like it's going to happen, so that's exciting. And then, for Bend in general, I just hope that those possibilities continue to exist for anyone with a dream and that's willing to work for it. That we don't lose site of what makes Bend Bend, the people. Opportunity, I hope that Bend continues to have opportunities for everyone. 

Because Bend is so fabulous, you just kind of think everything should be easy and things should just come to you. Work is still a part of achieving anything and I think this landscape attracts a personality that just wants to have fun. There's an important part of life of enjoying, but I think sometimes hard work and learning the true cost of something gets lost. You know, it's a leisure town. It's built on tourism. And I have gotten to learn to play that balance of yes, I can go skiing, but I also as a mother need to give my children these important things. It's an interesting place to hold the balance of that. It is important to have fun. I come from the Midwest where you just work hard all your life and then you go. So, it's important to have fun and appreciate the beautifulness that surrounds us, but also know the value of hard work and the trust cost of this life and what it means to be anywhere and provide for more than just yourself. 

Do you have any thoughts regarding Bend's growth?

I just really think we're at a place where we get to decide what it looks like. And that's exciting. I guess it was like two years ago, they were not putting a cap on the vacation rental permitting through the city. All these little rentals, like what I'm in right now, would be purchased by investors and because you can make so much money renting by the night versus by the month, nobody had homes. I work in the service industry and make like $23,000 a year went to the City Council and told them I'm a human here that works here and pays taxes and my children go to the schools here and I need help protecting the space to live in. Especially this neighborhood that we're in now, every time a house goes on the market it's almost a half a million dollars and nobody with a normal job without an inheritance can make that happen. So they are trying to put caps on people being able to make them into vacation rentals. If they keep them as a rental home, at least that's still contributing to people that are living in the city and working. So that has been a huge issue. But I think it's just the inevitability of how awesome this place is. I don't think the City Council members have an easy job and everyone has an opinion and everyone's perspective is valuable, but finding something that works will be interesting. My thoughts on Bend's growth is that it will happen and being an active part and advocating for what you see and what you want is important. Those are my thoughts. 

I love Bend and I'm grateful to be here and we all get a choice. You know? We all get to choose how we move forward. And the attitudes we project onto the people coming. It's easy to go into that being a victim of, Oh a certain population is moving here and it's messing everything up. And some of that is true. It is really happening, but we also get to get involved. If it's really that important to you. Instead of just sitting down, complaining, talk to your elected officials. You know? We have a choice. We all have choices. That's what I've got.