“We’ve already slayed some big dragons. But, I think we need to pay more attention to people on the fringes.”
INTERVIEW BY AMANDA STUERMER
Ruth Williamson is contagious. She is effervescent. She is the ultimate optimist. Ruth greets each and every person she runs into with a warm smile and a dang-it’s-so-good-to-see-you hug. Yes, Ruth Williamson is a hugger. Golden retrievers could learn a thing or two from her. Ruth is a natural connector. She is also passionate about this place that we call home. She infuses these qualities—connection and passion—into all she does. She has brought her characteristic enthusiasm to issues including: environment, growth, public transit, higher education and women’s empowerment.
We shared a cup of tea with Ruth and discussed why she does all that she does—after we hugged, of course.
What brought you to Bend?
The mountains, 100 percent. I need the mountains in my daily life. We were living in Seattle, and I was working as an Obermeyer rep so I traveled here a lot. I got to a point where I had to ask myself, “What do I really love?” My answer was, “The outdoors.” In a full hormonal rage, I told my husband, Pep, “We’re going to Bend.” He knew to get out of the way of a girl when she wants to make a nest. We’ve been in Bend for twenty years now and raised two awesome kids here. I still have a huge crush on this town.
What exactly do you love most about Central Oregon?
There is just so much possibility here, the place and the like-minded people. The combination of mountains and community are powerful. People here are all-in. When we fail, we notice it, get back up, and try again. As a natural optimist, I like that attitude.
What current challenges does our community need to be all in for?
We’ve been fortunate to have a generation of visionaries taking us from mountain town to where we are now. We’ve already slayed some big dragons. But, I think we need to pay more attention to people on the fringes. How do we start to wrestle with some of the tricky stuff like homelessness? What are we if we’re just about a good time? We’ve got so much. Shouldn’t we give back?
What organizations have you been involved with or supported here?
The Bend Parks & Recreation District, Bend 2030, OSU-Cascades, City of Bend, The Deschutes Forest and World Muse. We have so many organizations creating opportunities to have engaging conversations. These conversations matter. World Muse is at the forefront of this. We need to be inspired to tell our stories and know that we are part of a community that cares. That’s what World Muse does; it reminds us that we each have something to give, to offer, to bring to the table and that it matters. World Muse ignites the values conversation. People are coming to Muse and saying, “Yeah, me too.” I got involved a few years ago as a panel moderator for their annual Muse Conference, and I’ve since become a board member. Their message of living a life of purpose mirrors my work as a whole life coach. I work with women and men, as well as young adults, who are coming out of college and feel overwhelmed. I have an affinity for them because I felt this way. Young people get so many mixed-up messages these days. It’s easy for them to lose touch with themselves. I ask them the same question that I asked of myself, “What do you love about life?” This work feels absolutely like my sweet spot. I believe in possibility in the kids I work with, in the organizations I support and in the town I Iive in. I want to make a difference for them all.