Tanya Hughes, 43, outside her tiny home

I didn’t know that Tanya and I would become pals before we got around to meeting officially for this project, but that’s how it happened. Summer recommended Tanya to me back when we did her interview. I met her Tanya briefly then, but didn’t get her contact info. Then Summer reminded me of her again when I reached out to ask for referrals. Tanya immediately suggested we meet for a beer to chat about the project and life in general, so I jumped on the opportunity. Then we set up a time for the interview. And in the meantime, we hung out at a backyard barbecue together. So, by the time we settled into Tanya’s tiny home and got down to the actual interview, we were fast friends. Tanya is a total bad ass. She doesn’t mess around and has a brain full of beautiful thoughts and a really cool way of putting them into thoughts. And in addition to working with Summer in the flower studio, she also handcrafts these beautiful essential oils

Who are you?

I have to laugh at that question because my very sarcastic self says, Who am I not? (Laughs) It's one of those pet peeve questions, Who are you? When in fact, you're just like, Yeah, tell me what you do. (Laughs). Who am I? I don't know how to answer that. I honestly don't know how to answer that because I do go back - even though I was sort of joking about it - like, who am I not? At the risk of sounding super, I don't know, overly deep, I feel like I'm somebody that's always becoming. I feel like that that is always shifting and changing. That's always been the center of how I've lived my life to this point because I'm really interested in experience and experiencing things. And I'm really interested in growth and evolution and all of those things mean that if you do really want to grow, that you're constantly trying on different identities and letting go of the old ones. So that question of Who am I? is sort of difficult to nail down and sort of humorous to me. 

Where do you come from?

Where do I come from? Again (laughs), I go into this very quippy space of Where do I come from? Ummm, planet Earth (laughs). Planet Earth. I think that actually I feel most comfortable - I'm sort of evading your question a little bit - connecting with a geographical answer which is really more around the Pacific Northwest. There's something about the land and nature that feels very, like it's always been a shelter for me and it's always been something that has made sense to me. So, even though I might be from the Universe or the stars or something much more cosmic than an actual city, I feel like nature is where I'd like to say I come from. 

What brought you to Bend?

The sunshine! (Laughs) I mean, why else do you come to Bend? Other than maybe if you love powder and you love skiing and outdoor sports. It was definitely sunshine. I wanted some place that was again more Pacific Northwest because I resonate so deeply with this part of the United States, but I didn't want to be in the grey, damp, mossy, depressing area on the other side of the Cascades. So, Bend felt like a good place to go check out. And I hadn't been here in years. I was a big snowboarder for a long time and haven't done that for a good 15 years, so I had no idea how much Bend had grown. It was a very spontaneous move, but I'm glad that I made it. 

What does community mean to you?

I feel like community at its best is this balancing act between being true to oneself and learning how to be compassionate with other. And when I say other, I'm talking about human beings, I'm talking about animals, I'm talking about nature, the environment. I feel like community is this amazingly rich opportunity to be witnessed, to be supported, to be loved, also to be challenged. I think challenge is a big part of community - healthy challenge. I would say healthy challenge is surrounding oneself, either consciously or unconsciously, with people that are going to help make one the best version of oneself possible. And that usually can be uncomfortable. If there's growth involved it's usually uncomfortable. So community for me is a fusion of all of those things. Ideally (laughs). 

What do you appreciate most about this community?

Community didn't bring me to Bend, right? Nature - an aspect of nature - brought me to Bend. And then community unfolded as I lived here, which makes sense (laughs). The community that has opened its arms to me and that I've opened my arms to has been wildly creative. Some of the more productive, multi-faceted, creative people that I've ever met have actually been in Bend. And what I mean by that is, you know, I've lived in Seattle and Miami and Salt Lake City and certainly I've met some creative people, but a lot of them were sort of not multi-dimensional. And most of the people that I've met in Bend are multi-dimensional. So, what I appreciate about that within this community is that that creativity lends itself to some really interesting relationships, really interesting conversations, really multi-faceted ways of living and existing and being with one another. It kind of dovetails back into that original question around like What is community? And me really desiring and saying that the best of community is not just How do we stroke each other's egos? but How do we challenge each other to be the best version of ourselves possible? I feel like the community in Bend that I've found really represents that. Which is sort of surprising, because again, that's not what I came here for. So it's been a really nice experience. And certainly I think some of that probably has to do with my age and what I'm available for at this point. And how I think one's community can also reflect how you're showing up, right? So if I'm showing up in a way that is really honest and has a sense of authenticity and is willing and has a sense of interest, then I feel like more often than not that that is what is gonna be reflected back. That's been my experience here, for the most part, with community. It's a small community of people that I know, but I feel like it sort of just keeps growing by the day.

Do you have thoughts regarding Bend's growth?

I do. I do have thoughts about Bend's growth, but they're more thoughts around the infrastructure of Bend. Less so of people's personal reactions to the growth itself. More concern that the influx of people and that impact in terms of everyone's quality of life here. So that means, for me, affordable housing, access to specific services from healthcare (being able to find a health practitioner with so many people in town), being able to actually physically get around town in a way that feels safe. If I'm riding a bike, it's not super congested. I can get around without feeling like I'm gonna get run over. So just those day-to-day sort of life experiences. I'm not super convinced that the city council or the structure of Bend is equipped to deal with how quickly it's growing. So that's my only criticism. But I think that's a criticism that can be said with any growing city. I don't necessarily think that Bend's growth is unique in that way at all. I think that is actually is probably unfortunately super reflective of what's happening in a lot of towns this size that people feel attracted to moving. So that would really be my bigger impression around that. It's less around sort of the noise of people that have been here for a while and being really bummed out there's new people moving here and how quickly it's growing. I can be sympathetic to that, for sure. There's so many fantastic things about it and the access, again, for someone like myself who loves nature, is really, really exceptional. The risk of losing that due to a lot of people coming in - yeah, I can see how that would be a bummer. But similar to how you just prefaced this question, I think there's something bigger at play. There's more advantage to having some of the people who have come who are moving to Bend in terms of helping build a more stable economy, helping making it more vital and interesting, helping participate and be a part of a community. I think there are more ups than downs, for sure. 

What do you wish for the future?

I wish for the future to increase my awareness around my own footprint. My footprint in terms of how much I use resources. Which part of the reason why I've moved into a tiny house is because I really want to understand how much water I use. I really want to see what it means to live solar and to live smaller. What does that actually feel like? Physically have a space where I'm able to consume less because I simply don't have space to put it (laughs) so I can't really accumulate things. So my hope is to continue to really own that and play with that in a way that's not only for living a greater, truer quality of life for myself but also something that has a lesser impact for everyone else around me. And I would love for this city or communities to also take that very seriously and to take that on a little bit more. To really start asking the question of What is enough? Honestly, like, What is enough? Not just like, What do I feel like today? or What do I need? but What is enough? Because I think we all have more than enough. So, for the future, I don't know if that really answers that question. To distill it down, I guess it's just about becoming more and more conscious as a human being on the planet and all the facets about what that means - about how I feel things, about how I express things, what kind of work I choose to do, where I put my dollars, what I give back to the environment, what I take. Hopefully I give more than I take.