There we were, wandering around in effervescently sunny streets of downtown Bend the other day. And we ran across a group of four men, touring the area.
As it turns out, Councilman Dave Ettl and his team were fresh off the road from Yakima. They'd come to learn what they could about creating a vibrant downtown, replete with arts and culture.
A few jokes were traded about parlaying Central Washington's hops crop into Bend-grade beervana. But a lot of what Ettl and his group were focusing on had to do with art and the built environment. Ettl gestured to the families strolling through shops and art galleries. "This is my first visit," he said, "and I'm blown away. I love the architecture, I like the design."
We invited two people who've had an effect on the evolving look of Bend, in very different ways.
Andrew Wachs is a sculptor, and welder. He creates at WELD DESIGN Studio for homes and businesses, and has worked on several public art projects in the city.
Doug LaPlaca, the CEO of Visit Bend, is becoming a larger player in the arts and culture scene. His organization has curated more than a dozen works on display in Tin Pan Alley.
And this year, Visit Bend will oversee administration of Bend's new Cultural Tourism Fund.
We asked both to talk about the city's assets, and what change they foresee in the future.