Marley Weedman, 23, at her home

I like to deconstruct how I meet people and how things come about in life. For example, several days ago, I went to one of my favorite local spots - Good Dog - with my dog, Pal. We go there often and I try to walk a different route as often as possible just to keep things fresh. On this day, we ended up at a good swimming hole and I ran into Marley and her friend, Jenny. The three of us chatted while the dogs romped about and I learned that Marley has a rich history here in Central Oregon. She agreed to participate and we made some plans to meet at her place. Would we have met if I went left instead of right or if I had taken longer to chat with those other folks? Who knows? It's fun to think about. At any rate, I'm grateful to have met Marley. Here she is. 

Who are you?

I'm Marley Weedman. I am a fourth generation Central Oregonian. 

What does that mean for you?

My great grandpa came on a Model T from Ohio. My family grew up in the Klamath/Chiloquin Reservation area on my grandmother's side. So she grew up over there. My great grandpa on my grandfather's side was the mayor of Prineville (laughs). And then we go way back, too. I'm related to a couple outlaws and all kinds of crazy. I was born in Portland. My dad's originally from the Camas/Longview area. So my parent's met in Portland and then they eventually came back when I was two. In these apartments we are sitting in right now, we lived here when I was a baby, just like four doors down (laughs). Yeah, so it's full circle. It's fun. There are certain areas that are more significant than others. Like, these apartments. When I think about home, I think about where I am right now. My grandparents just sold their house of 30 years that they built when my mom was in high school. So move-out date is in a couple of days. I've been trying not to think about that. It's weird. I need to expand. I've traveled, but I need to maybe live somewhere else. But I'll always come back here. 

What do you like about Bend?

I like my connection to every place. Like, every place here is not a street -- it's a landmark. Everything reminds me of something. I know it like the back of my hand, but there's always new things to find. You can drive any direction and there's a completely different landscape and it's beautiful. 

How do you feel you contribute to the community?

Well I can't go anywhere without someone recognizing me (laughs). I get stopped on the street, people asking if I'm Sue's granddaughter. I haven't seen you since you were this big (laughs). I work in a really highly trafficked area; I work downtown. So I'm forced to contribute every day. I have to show up and represent the community no matter what.

What does community mean to you? 

Supporting each other and the environment around us. Continuing to make connections no matter how insignificant they are. I think it's important to just be nice. Because you never know. I've had some really shitty days and sometimes the difference between a tragic ending and making it through the day is just because my barista befriended me or something. 

Were you raised with a strong sense of community?

I was, yeah. I grew up a competitive swimmer. I didn't have friendships, I had sibling relationships. You spend six hours a day with the same group of kids every day, you're kind of forced into a sense of community. And then it kind of expanded to different teams around Oregon because every weekend you're together. 

Do you have a favorite memory from here?

When I was in high school, the building above Thump used to be called The Poet House. Mosley Wotta started it and it was like a group of kind of significant artists in the community and they built this creative space for teenagers. We were walking through downtown the other night and the bars were crazy and I was like Do you remember when it was 1:00 in the morning and we were 15 and we were the only people downtown? ((Laughs) We used to go and hang out there all the time. There were concerts, there was spoken word - it was just like a fun opportunity for some of the kids that didn't fall into some of the other molds in the community. But, I miss that. It was really nice because it was a safe spot if you wanted to hangout. You could set up your easel or whatever. It was really fun. 

What do you wish for the future?

I'm struggling right now. I recently went through a major breakup. I've worked in the same spot for five years. So I'm struggling with kind of wanting to move away. So I'm hopeful that Bend can be left in hands where people are going to take care of it and nurture so that one day when I do come back - with my family, hopefully - it will be better than I left it. 

Do you have thoughts on Bend's growth? 

Someone came into the store who obviously hated the tourists and she was like Are you having an alright summer? Are the tourists being nice to you? And I said, Of course because I'm being nice to them. If people ask my opinion on moving to Bend, I'm going to tell them the winters are crazy. It's hard to drive in the ice if you don't know how. It gets hot. Like, I'll tell the truth, but I'm not going to discourage anyone. And I like to encourage people who care about the recreation and all the things that make Bend beautiful. I'd much rather have an expansion of people who care than angry people. Like, it just doesn't make sense. That's what makes it hard to live here right now, it's the opposing sides. 

A lot of the small town mentality comes with negative things like racism. It's crazy. All of Oregon was built on racism and sexism and it's a good thing that people are moving here. It's a good thing that more ideas are coming together. It's a good thing that gay people live here now. If I didn't grow up the way that I did, with open-minded parents, I would be like half the kids that went to my high school. My parents taught me to do unto others and to love people. Because everybody's going through something and it just doesn't make any sense to diminish anyone. It's stupid. People are always going to be assholes, but that's just too bad for them. (Laughs) If you can't wake up every day and be thankful - like I get to look out to wildflowers. That's awesome! Not everybody gets to do that. It's a different mentality, like you can just take a breath here.