Bear Creek Garden Harvest 2018

Local change. A world of difference.

In 1989, The Environmental Center was born to inspire locals to live lighter on the planet. Our work began with a handful of people and a building in the center of Bend. Today, we've grown to become a regional leader in environmental education, engagement, and action. Our team works alongside people of all ages, local businesses, and elected officials to create and advocate for meaningful, lasting change.

Through unique programs and partnerships, we strive to engage as many people as possible in our mission: To embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon. 

Many values, ideas, and resources The Environmental Center shares are rooted in Indigenous ways of life. When we call on our community to protect the planet and her people, we acknowledge that this interconnectedness has been delicately sustained by Indigenous People since the beginning of time.

Sustainability is a process and an outcome.

Sustainability is supported by three interdependent pillars that influence one another (for better or for worse): a healthy environment, social equity, and economic vitality. We see sustainability as both an active process and an outcome we strive for. It is what we want to achieve; and it is also how we get there. Our work helps to shape sustainable communities that meet human needs equitably, live within our planet’s ecological limits, and build a prosperous economy for all — without compromising the ability for future generations to do the same.

Here in Central Oregon, The Environmental Center has historically paid close attention to nurturing the healthy environment pillar by improving environmental literacy and access to outdoor education, and helping our community to conserve water and energy, to reduce waste, and to transition away from fossil fuels. More recently, we have bolstered the economic pillar by advocating for policies and infrastructure that support smart growth, safe walking, biking and transit, and by partnering with environmentally responsible businesses.

Our commitment to equity.

We recognize that we have often neglected the equity pillar of sustainability. We have not paid enough attention to meeting the needs and including the voices of individuals who are most often impacted by environmental degradation and climate change — including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), people who are LGBTQ+, people with diverse abilities, and people and families with low incomes. In addition, our predominantly white staff and board collectively do not represent the full spectrum of people who make Central Oregon their home.

This is not an acceptable path forward. Prioritizing and investing in social equity is imperative to achieving our sustainability mission. We must work on all three pillars.

What We Do

We accomplish a lot from our hub on Kansas Ave, but much of our work takes place outside of these four walls. Take a peek at our programs, then jump right in and get involved. Our door is open – we’re here to get you connected.

How We Do It

Our team works because we collaborate, innovate, and catalyze change in our community. Here’s one example of how we achieved real, measurable results through programs, partnerships, and leadership: the Bend Energy Challenge!