Bend Livability Conference


Saturday, June 4th

It’s the question on all our minds—how will we maintain the livability of Bend in the face of all this growth and change?

The answer is simple—we CAN shape the future together by educating, empowering and engaging each other to implement innovative solutions to our greatest challenges.

Sponsored by the Bend Tech Ecosystem, Hayden Homes, and more than 50 other local sponsors, we’re using this conference to make Bend the most livable city in American through innovation.

Join us for this incredible day of learning about the issues and how YOU can plug into the solutions. With 19 sessions in three tracks, more than 40 speakers, 6 open houses, a special City Club of Central Oregon Forum on whether Bend’s City Council structure is keeping pace with the needs of our community, and a final capstone event that invites YOU to consider your role in the future of our city, there is truly something for everyone at the Bend Livability Conference.

Registration now live!

Register for the Bend Livability Conference

Conference Schedule

  • 8:30 a.m. Check-in and breakfast buffet service begins
  • 9 a.m. Keynote Speaker
  • 10-11 a.m. Session One
  • 11:15 a.m.- 12:15 p.m. Session Two
  • 12:15-1:15 p.m. Lunch, open houses and discussion groups
  • 1:15- 2:15 p.m. Session Three
  • 2:30-3:45 p.m. City Club of Central Oregon forum on City Governance
  • 3:45- 4 p.m. Capstone Event

Keynote Speaker

Matt Carmichael

As the editor of, one of the nation’s premier ratings and rankings organizations for livable cities, Matt Carmichael will tee up the Bend Livability Conference as keynote speaker. Matt is a seasoned journalist, author and speaker who specializes in demographics, consumer trends, and urban issues. At he focuses on what makes small and mid-sized cities great places to live and work. He is the author of “Buyographics: How demographic and economic changes will reinvent the way marketers reach consumers.” He has been awarded top honors in journalism and his work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets globally.

City Club of Central Oregon Forum on City Governance

Will Bend’s future call for an elected mayor? Full time city councilors elected through a ward system? City Club of Central Oregon will host a special forum on city governance structures and how cities evolve them to meet their needs.

Eric King, Bend’s City Manager, will provide context to Bend’s current system and discuss the evolution and history of Bend’s charter, which dictates our current governance structure.

Dr. Phillip Cooper of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at PSU will provide a window into the spectrum of city governance structures found throughout the Northwest and other parts of the country and share thoughts about the way Bend’s residents might consider governance for the community in the years ahead as the community grows, new challenges arise, and plans evolve for our city. Topics such as Bend’s form of government, role of the City Council, and relationship to other organizations and jurisdictions are all part of that conversation.

Matt Kittelson, Senior Engineer at Kittelson & Associates, Inc.


Lessons from Division Street:
Tangible Tools for Shaping City Policy

SESSION ONE: By organizing, neighbors can shape the future of their neighborhoods. Division Design Initiative from Portland is the inspiring model of how a small band of neighbors have turned themselves into a powerhouse of policy development in Portland. In the meantime, they’ve created design standards for their neighborhood, allowing them a proactive and constructive way to engage with architects and builders by showing what buildings, streetscapes and gathering places define the character of the neighborhood. See how you can follow in their footsteps.

Linda Nettekoven | Neighborhood Leader

Seth Anderson | Ascent Architecture & Interiors

Business Districts and Neighborhoods:
Creating Cooperation Not Conflict

SESSION TWO: What is the future of cooperation between neighbors and businesses in areas such as the Galveston Corridor, the University District, the Medical District, and the Makers District. Through the formation of business districts, neighborhoods and business owners CAN work together to enhance and maintain the livability of buffer zones where residential and commercial uses intermingle. Learn how other communities have tackled these issues with great success.

Heather Hoell | Executive Director Portland Venture

Theresa Marchetti | Livability Programs Manager Portland Neighborhood

Madeleine Simmons | Neighborhood Leaders

Anne George | Public Involvement

Cricket Kodoch | Community Relations Independent Contractor

Annie Goldner | Central Oregon Public Involvement Professional

Eastside Livability:
An interactive feedback session

SESSION THREE: Bend is not a tale of two cities. We are one. But we can do better to connect the regions of our city and ensure everyone in our community has access to the quality of life elements that make Bend special. Come share your feedback in this dynamic, interactive session on what amenities, resources, planning and infrastructure YOU believe is needed to increase the quality of life of Eastside Bendites and what creative work we can do to bridge the gap between east and west in Bend.

Stephanie Serpico | Central Oregon Public Involvement Professional


Complete Neighborhoods
and Why We Need Them

SESSION ONE: A primer on the revolutionizing effects of the current urban growth boundary expansion process, this session is the one-hour crash course every resident needs to understand the future evolution of Bend. Through tools like zoning, intergovernmental agency coordination, and incentives, planners hope to create complete neighborhoods defined by a mix of housing types, a mix of commercial and employment uses, and a mix of school and park amenities. Learn why directing our growth in this way is a key piece of solving the housing and transportation puzzles.

Brian Rankin | City of Bend Long-Range Planner

Kirk Schueler | CEO Brooks Resources

Ellen Grover | Board of Directors Bend Park and Recreation

Nori Juba | Board Chair Bend La Pine School District

Victor Chudowsky | Bend City Councilor

A Livable Community
Starts at Home:
The real value of affordable housing

SESSION TWO: What’s the point of affordable housing anyway? Turns out, it’s not only the fundamental building block of safety, health and a stable economy — it’s crucial to a diverse and livable community. But don’t take our word for it. Join in for this interactive session where you’ll have the chance to gauge for yourself whether this affordable housing problem is all it’s cracked up to be.

Lynne McConnell | Deputy Director Housing and Assets NeighborImpact

Damon Runberg | Oregon Regional Economist Oregon Employment Department

Kenny LaPoint | Housing Integrator Oregon Housing and Community Services

Are Tiny Homes the Answer? Making it work in Bend.

SESSION THREE: Tiny homes and cottage housing, whether developed by for-profit, nonprofit or private land owners, can create intentional communities to meet the need for downsized living, retirement, affordable housing, and transitional housing with social services. The flexibility of these homes address a wide variety of individuals and families, and is being done successfully in other communities. Let’s talk about how it is happening now in Bend and what we can do to further the safe and secure development of this housing option.

Wendy Robinson | City of Bend Senior Planner

DeeDee Johnson | Homeowner Services Manager Habitat for Humanity

Jesse Russell | Owner Tongue and Groove Tiny Homes

Shimiko Montgomery | Associate Pastor at Bend Church

Rita Hansen CEO | Onboard Dynamics, Inc.

Exploratory Housing Working Group Meeting

SESSION THREE: A targeted list of stakeholders are invited to participate in this one-hour workshop facilitated by Commonworks Consulting to help determine whether it is time for a housing working group focused on a Bend solution to our housing dilemma.

Andrée Tremoulet | Consulting Principal Commonworks


How to Fund Transit
AND Keep Your Car

SESSION ONE: By 2030, our city will see a 40 percent increase in residents, but very few new roads. Transit and multimodal funding are critical pieces of the transportation solution we’ll need to accommodate this growth, but how are we going to pay for it? Payroll taxes? A transit funding district? Learn about the options and what it will take to make robust multimodal transportation a reality.

Tammy Baney | Deschutes County Commissioner Chair Oregon Transportation Commission

Andrew Spreadborough | Executive Director Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council

Richard Ross | Chair, Regional Public Transit Advisory Committee, Cascades East Transit

Nathan Boddie | Bend City Councilor

Taking it to the Streets: A tactical urbanism approach to bike and pedestrian safety

SESSION TWO: Tactical urbanism is the cool catch-all for describing the phenomenon of neighbors taking bike and pedestrian safety into their own hands. Think temporary bike lanes and hay bale curb extensions. Think stencils and wash-away chalk paint. Think neighbors working together on demonstration projects that give them the chance to see how simple bike and pedestrian infrastructure changes could reduce traffic and contribute to community building in their neighborhoods. Then come learn how to do it yourself.

Robin Lewis | City of Bend Transportation Engineer

Derek Abe | Alta Planning + Design

Bend’s Transportation
System 2.0: A New Hope

SESSION THREE: There are solutions to our transportation future and the answer is moving from an auto-centric system to one with robust multimodal options. Come learn from award-winning transportation planner Chris Comeau on how innovative strategies have led Bellingham, Washington—a university town of similar size and demographics to Bend—to become one of the most visionary cities in the nation when it comes to moving people and commerce. It’s all about linking development impacts with hyper-local bike, pedestrian and transit infrastructure. And guess what? We have our very own chance to test out Bellingham’s tools through the Central Westside Area Plan.

Chris Comeau | Transportation Planner Bellingham, Washington


Measuring Livability:
We can do it here

SESSION ONE: Defining and measuring livability is no easy task. Learn how the professionals do it. Hint: It involves massive spreadsheets. Whether on the national level, major urban area or mid-sized city such as Bend, the elements of livability include diversity, housing affordability, transportation options, health and wellness, a strong community and a host of other quality of life indicators that when being measured can drive our cities to adopt new policies enhancing quality of life.

Matt Carmichael | Editor of

Chet Orloff | Adj. Professor, Urban Studies & Planning, PSU

Steven Ames, Principal Steven Ames Planning | NXT Consulting Group

Katherine Austin | Architect AIA

Downtown Moves East Part 1:
The Vision

SESSION ONE: Downtown has likely expanded east in the year 2030 to a new heart of the city in what is now the industrial zone between Franklin and Olney Avenues, and the Parkway and Third Street commonly called the Makers District. Local artisan-based businesses and the arts community have turned the area into a thriving hotbed of activity. A well-planned mix of apartments, shops, restaurants, and office space have converted this area into the ideal anchor for a new kind of transportation system in Bend that relies on people’s ability to walk, bike or take transit to their nearby destinations. Come learn about the vision for this vibrant new city core.

René Mitchell | Scalehouse

Mike Ross | Natural Edge Furniture

Wendy Robinson | City of Bend Senior Planner

Douglas Robertson | Executive Director High Desert Mural Festival

Karen Swirsky Senior Long Range Planner | City of Bend

Daily Livability:
Kindness is the key to a happy city


It’s a story told time and time again—I moved to Bend for the smiles. A friendly, supportive and welcoming community is one of the most important ways we can ensure the livability of our city. How do these intangible livability factors influence our lives? What can we do in our daily lives to increase happiness and openness in Bend. Learn from local faith leaders and one man who is taking matters into his own hands by launching a new kindness movement in our midst.

Heather and Travis Bryan | The Kindness Revolution

Downtown Moves East Part 2:
The Plan

SESSION TWO: So we have a vision for the Makers District, but how do we accomplish it? That’s where government agencies and serious plans come into play. Already, The City of Bend and the Oregon Department of Transportation have spent several years meeting with property owners and stakeholders to develop a plan to transform an underutilized industrial area into the vibrant urban core we hope to see develop. Have you heard about the Bend Central District Plan? The Multi Modal Planning Area? How about the urban growth boundary opportunity areas? These are the wonky names for the blueprints that will bring our vision for the Makers District to life. Come learn about what decisions are left to be made, the land-use/transportation hurdles we must tackle and how achieving success here will put Bend on the map of cities that have done redevelopment right.

Wendy Robinson | City of Bend Senior Planner

Chris Comeau | Transportation Planner Bellingham, Washington

David Amiton | ODOT Active Transportation Liaison, Region 4

Karen Swirsky Senior Long Range Planner | City of Bend

Stacey Stemach Owner Architect | Stemach Design & Architecture

Age isn’t just a number:
The coming demographic shift and what it means for Bend

SESSION TWO: We expect 40 percent more people to be living in Bend by 2030, but who are they? Millenials? Seniors? How will they influence the labor force, markets and housing supply needs. What kind of neighborhoods and transportation options will they want when they get here. Regional economist Damon Runberg breaks down the complex effects of the changing demographics we’ll see in the next decade and puts into context the way you’ll feel them in your own life.

Damon Runberg | Oregon Regional Economist Oregon Employment Department

Linda English Founder | Looking Forward

Envision OSU-Cascades:
Community amenity brainstorm

SESSION TWO: Join OSU-Cascades in an active presentation and opportunity to provide your input on ideas for the future campus. During this session, community members will get up-to-speed with where the university is currently at in the campus design process, and then transition into a small group activity where participants will collaborate to prioritize specific community amenities on the campus.

Nathan Moses | Community Outreach Coordinator OSU-Cascades

Kelly Sparks | Associate VP of Finance and Strategic Planning OSU-Cascades

Ron Fritz | CEO Techsoft3D

Quality of life on the land:
Protecting our recreational resources from overuse

SESSION THREE: Abundant rivers, streams, forests and wilderness are some of the treasures we enjoy in Central Oregon. Increases in population and over-use of these resources can stretch certain areas in unhealthy ways. The US Forest Service and the Deschutes River Conservancy are independently looking ahead to develop long-term plans with local stakeholders to balance the use of natural resources with community values. The Deschutes National Forest is focused on long-term sustainability of our public lands and the uses of these lands and resources. The Deschutes NF will soon be embarking on a Forest Plan revision. This plan in a collaborative effort with the community will address sustainability of our Forests, habitats, recreation experiences and economic uses of the forests. The Deschutes River Conservancy is coordinating an Upper Deschutes Basin Study that will layout a shared community plan that balances water use between river and community needs. Learn more about these processes that will affect the quality of life in our region for generations to come.

Kate Fitzpatrick | Deschutes River Conservancy

Amy Tinderholt | Deputy District Ranger for the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District

Sally Russell | Bend City Councilor

State Level Solutions:
Legislators and Lobbyists Weigh In

SESSION THREE: From Oregon’s land-use laws to our transportation issues to our housing crisis, some issues must be addressed at the state level to provide real solutions for Bend. Come hear from Bend State Representative Knute Buehler and the City of Bend’s lobbyist Erik Kancler on what priorities they have for bringing home wins for Bend at the state level.

Knute Buehler | State Representative

Erik Kancler | Owner, Kancler Consulting LLC A Bend-based government relations firm

 Disability for a day

ALL SESSION TIMES: An important piece of legislation was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created with the intention to end exclusion and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, making it possible to contribute and participate in all that their communities have to offer. This ongoing workshop, which will be offered as an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Conference invites you to try out using a wheelchair or a scooter, to try on glasses that show what it’s like to be vision-impaired and give you the chance to learn first hand about what disability means to many of our community? Your choice to participate is voluntary, but for about 20 percent of the Central Oregon population, their experience of disability is mandatory with no chance to ask for a “do over.”

Carol Fulkerson | Disability Advocate


Making Bend Safer by Design:
A Tactical Urbanism Open House

Making Bend Safer by Design is a new program engaging neighbors across Bend to deploy new biking and walking enhancements that build community and make our streets safer. Do you want to help build Bend’s first biking and walking boulevards? Stop by to visit with City of Bend engineers Rory Rowan and Robin Lewis and Alta Planning + Design consultant Derek Abe and find out how you can help make Bend’s walking and biking environment safer and more family friendly.

Rory Rowan | City of Bend Project Engineer
Rory Rowan manages the design and construction of a variety of projects for the City of Bend benefiting accessibility, walking and biking. With degrees in urban planning and civil engineering, Rory has previously worked for multiple government agencies and private consultants on active transportation infrastructure.

Robin Lewis | City of Bend Transportation Engineer
Robin Lewis works on multimodal infrastructure and safety projects for the City of Bend in the Growth Management Department. Through a series of Citywide Safety Projects she is working to make getting around town more safe, comfortable and inviting. Several run off the road and pedestrian crossing projects are using the traditional design then construct approach. However, the city is beginning to utilize hands-on field demonstrations using the latest Tactical Urbanism techniques. Learn more at the www.saferbydesignbend.comwebsite which is set to begin in early June 2016.

Derek Abe | Alta Planning + Design
Derek Abe is a Senior Planner at Alta Planning + Design, a national transportation planning and engineering, and landscape architecture firm working to create healthy, livable communities through active transportation. He has a background in mechanical engineering, environmental science and urban planning and has experience working for a wide range of agencies in the Portland region including the regional government and regional transit agency. He joined Alta Planning and Design in 2012 and has since contributed his skills in research and data analysis, technical writing, GIS and design on an array of projects including bicycle and pedestrian master plans, transit access plans, policy reviews, design guides, and experimental facility studies. For the last two years, Derek has been working with the City of Bend to design, plan and implement citywide safety improvement projects throughout the city, including a series of upcoming demonstration projects that will allow us to explore innovative streetscape enhancements that will make our streets safer, more comfortable, and attractive public places.

Disability for a Day

Stop by and test out what living with a disability might be like for the 20 percent of Central Oregonians dealing with this challenge.

Age-Friendly Bend

A group of senior advocates has been meeting for nearly a year to consider whether Bend is ready to become an Age-Friendly City as Portland and other communities have done. Is it time to create an action plan for ensuring the livability of seniors in our community. Come visit with members of this team and learn how you can get involved.

Division Design Initiative

Heather Flint Chatto and Lindlindaa Nettekoven of Division Design Initiative host this open house to answer questions and offer strategies for neighbors interested in following in the footsteps of this powerful project shaping Division Street in Portland. What do you want to know about turning your neighborhood working group into a policy powerhouse?

Move Bend Interactive Discussion Group

Move Bend is a new coalition of partners devoted to building public support and funding for a multimodal transportation system in Bend. Come learn more about this exciting new initiative, learn how you can get involved in transitioning Bend from an auto-centric to a multimodal community and get started on shaping the campaign to make it happen.

Neighborhood Association Open House

Thirteen neighborhood associations make up the backbone of citizen engagement at the neighborhood level and offer an important vehicle for shaping city policy and building community. Neighborhood association leaders are ready to connect you with their teams and plug you into their work. Come meet them!