Combatting hate: Bend, Oregon, USA

“This is our sixth year celebrating Welcoming Week. Bend is built from the contributions of everyone: people who were born here, people who moved here, immigrants and refugees, people of color, tribal members, youth and elders, and many more. We value how everyone here is bringing new ideas, serving in civic roles, working in critical industries, seeking to collaborate on our challenges, and contributing to diversity in our community.” — Mayor Melanie Kebler, City of Bend 

Bend, Oregon has historically been a city with limited diversity; demographically, the population is nearly 89% white. Several years ago, local nonprofit Embrace Bend’s first Welcoming Week event focused on combating hate. The work of many community leaders in Bend has led to a growing awareness of the need for welcoming policies, practices, and attitudes.

During Welcoming Week 2023, 18 organizations hosted events that brought together communities that may not typically engage with each other. Events included:

  • Community conversation circles hosted by a restorative justice organization
  • A multicultural art exhibition
  • A Latino heritage celebration
  • Games of lotería hosted by the Bend Police Department

Using the momentum of Welcoming Week to inspire long-term change, the City of Bend's Human Rights and Equity Commission addressed issues of hate speech and discrimination and recommended steps to address them at a city council meeting in September 2023.