Crafting Community in The Dalles

as told to Bronte Dod | photos by Jen Jones

In 1986, my husband and I were living in Salem. When he came home one night and told me he was being transferred to The Dalles, I was horrified. I thought it was the armpit of Oregon. Thirty years later, I am still here and I love it. The Dalles is beautiful, and I learned not to judge a town from the freeway.

Even in the winter, we get plenty of sun. There are so many outdoor activities to do here such as hiking, biking, windsurfing and standup paddleboarding. We have a variety of scenic parks on the Columbia River, downtown and at elevated viewpoints that we can use year-round. Since this town is centrally located, we enjoy the heat of the desert as much as we enjoy all the weather and wind that the mountains bring to us.

We have wonderful Main Street and urban renewal programs that are revitalizing and preserving the historic downtown. I’m excited about some important changes that are underway and turning The Dalles into an even more incredible place to live in and explore.

Downtown is full of locally owned shops and stores, where you can really get a sense of the face of our community, which is full of friendly, caring people.

Starting with the Cherry Festival each spring, I always look forward to a summer full of concerts and parades. In recent years, wineries and brewpubs have opened in our little town, which bring us a lot of life on warm afternoons.

When we moved here, we found out our son was very gifted artistically, so I checked out The Dalles Art Center. It paid off for both of us. I was working in veterinary offices at the time, and I started volunteering at the art center. In 2008, the board of directors offered me the executive director’s position. Up to that point, I’d still never taken an art class. Since then, I’ve taken the classes that the art center offers and a whole new world has opened up to me. By being exposed to the arts, I learned that you start seeing everything from a different perspective. Art has so much potential to enrich lives.

This will be the center’s fifty-ninth year. This community is very generous in supporting us. When you talk to most nonprofits in The Dalles, they always comment on how giving people are here. Year after year the art center has leaned on our community for support and involvement, and they have never let us down. I feel very lucky to live in this wonderful village.

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