High Desert Project News

Newsletter  |  Issue 2

Letter from Us

Last fall, we launched two new High Desert Project event series. While one series focused on food systems, the other explored how we construct stories about ourselves and our community. Each series offered new insights into what’s working as well as areas for continued growth.  

One of the key strengths of both series was their ability to build connections between individuals and foster meaningful conversations. We are hearing a deep hunger among participants for continued engagement. 

At the same time, we’ve received valuable feedback on expanding recruitment to include a greater range of perspectives. We are also exploring the concept of positive discomfort and how leaning into more uncomfortable conversations can help build understanding of perspectives different from our own. 

Whether it’s exploring new topics, pushing into discomfort, or fostering greater respect for diverse perspectives, we’re excited about the opportunity to continue to grow the High Desert Project initiative. Thank you for being a vital part of this growth! 

– The High Desert Project Team


Alumni Voices

In each edition of the High Desert Project Newsletter, we present thought-provoking prompts designed to ignite conversations among our valued alumni. Share your perspectives by responding to these prompts through the link below and your contribution could be highlighted in the upcoming issue!

What is your vision for the High Desert region in 75 years?

“In 75 years, I envision the High Desert region as a flourishing community where residents deeply appreciate the intricate connections between our diverse cultures, wildlife and landscapes. I also hope for a welcoming community that embraces diversity, fosters inclusivity, and prioritizes environmental stewardship and sustainability, ensuring a legacy for generations to come.” 

“I have two visions: One dystopian, the second more dystopian. It will be warmer and dryer, water will become the most valuable resource among sprawling settlements of human housing and strip malls. Hydro dams have been removed to save anadromous fishes; solar arrays and wind powered turbines are restricted for wildlife conservation. The growing demand for energy will be met by multiple small modular nuclear generators such as those presently used in France. More dystopian Vision Two: The drought is the normal condition and water use restriction is a way of life.  Electricity will become the only allowed form of commercial energy; and to support that demand the desert is now paved with solar arrays and wind turbines to replace power loss since the dams are all gone (and nuclear fusion still a dream).  Steelhead, mule deer, sage grouse, and most other desert species will disappear amidst the expansion of humans.” 

“I envision a High Desert with communities who understand the value of reciprocity with the land. That vision means that our children, and our children’s children, understand that using natural resources does not equate to the depletion of natural resources. My hope is that these future communities understand their place in the ecosystem—not to dominate, but to share.” 

Current Series Update

Wolves on the High Desert Landscape

In March, we concluded our series that explored wolves in the High Desert. Read below to learn more about the experiences of individuals who were part of this series. 

“The cohort on wolves was everything the High Desert Project hopes to embody! Most spectacular is the passion so many of us have to do what is best for every facet of wolves presence in Oregon. I am hopeful, that each alumni of each cohort takes actionable steps to enhance the topic about which we have learned and collaborated.” – Dave 

“The High Desert Museum’s High Desert Project was an incredible experience in every possible way. The sessions, each with the highest caliber guest presenters, were engaging and eye-opening and my fellow participants brought so much additional knowledge and perspective to the discussions. I’m grateful to be a part of such a wonderful program.” – Sheryl 

“The part of the experience that I valued most was the opportunity to engage in difficult conversations about a controversial subject with people whose experiences and opinions often differed from my own. Unfortunately, we live in a time of great national polarization, and our inclination is to retreat into silos of like-minded people and avoid the difficult but invaluable dialogue and debate our democratic system demands. The conversations during this project consistently challenged my pre-existing stereotypes of the various stakeholder groups, and gave me a new appreciation for nuance, complexity, and the need to empathize with people we disagree with.” – Andries 

“As a hunter and conservationist, I see wolves as important indicators of a thriving ecosystem. Joining the High Desert Museum’s working group expanded my understanding of the diverse and passionate perspectives on these charismatic megafauna. This journey heightened my awareness of the unavoidable conflicts between wolves and human interests, underscoring the need for a nuanced approach to coexistence. It reinforced my conviction in the essential role of wolves within natural landscapes, while also affirming the importance of safeguarding private property amidst the ever-changing landscape we find ourselves in here in Central Oregon.” – Ian 

Upcoming Series

Youth Intensive with The Moth

One of the ways that we’ve been eager to expand the High Desert Project is by engaging youth voices. This summer, we’re thrilled to announce a special collaboration between the High Desert Project and The Moth Storytelling for our inaugural youth-focused series! This collaboration will delve into a realm of creativity, where cutting-edge storytelling techniques and performance art intersect, offering young individuals from our community a platform to share their unique perspectives on a topic of their choice. 

High Desert Project Annual Alumni Reunion

Tuesday, June 25th 2024 

Bend, Oregon

This summer, we are excited to announce the second annual High Desert Project Alumni Reunion featuring Manu Meel from Bridge USA and The Hopeful Majority. This event is your chance to reconnect with your series cohort and meet other alumni within the project.