The Environmental Center evolved out of the successful 1988 Oregon Rivers Initiative, whose campaign headquarters were based in Bend. After success at the polls, the campaign office became the new Central Oregon Natural Resource Center (name later changed), a center for education, collaboration and action to support a healthy environment.
In 1991, we acquired the former State Police Headquarters, moved it to our current location on Kansas Avenue in downtown Bend, and remodeled it. We started delivering sustainable living programs, providing administrative and outreach support for other local and statewide conservation organizations, and hosting events about the environment. We also launched several other organizations focused on transportation alternatives (Commute Options), smart growth (Friends of Bend), and green building and renewable energy (3E Strategies and the High Desert Chapter of Cascadia Green Building Council).
In 2008, The Environmental Center merged with reSource, one of our member organizations. reSource (formerly the Bend Recycling Team) had a proven track record of operating recycling, waste prevention, composting, and energy and water conservation programs. We knew that by joining together as one organization we would be more effective and efficient at achieving our common purpose: to ensure a healthy environment in Central Oregon and beyond.
2013 was our 25th birthday. We have evolved and grown since our creation in 1988, from a building that housed several other small organizations to a staff of seven that runs multiple programs of its own.
The environmental community we are part of has also grown. In 1988, it was a handful of fledgling organizations that needed to share space to survive. Today, the environmental community is a thriving part of the civic life in Central Oregon, with 25 local and 13 statewide organizations. These groups protect deserts, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat. They restore water quality and river flows. They get people outside. They promote alternatives to driving. They educate kids and adults. And they lobby for laws that limit pollution, shape our towns and cities and encourage environmentally responsible behavior.
The Environmental Center’s niche in this ecosystem of organizations is our focus on daily life, right here in our community. We know that a healthy environment is essential for human and all other life to thrive on planet earth. And we believe that changing how we humans live, work, play and learn is essential to ensuring that healthy environment.
We also know that achieving sustainability is no small task. So much needs to be done to tackle the big problems of our day, like climate change and the loss of biodiversity, problems rooted in individual daily choices and the systems and policies that influence them.
We have a lot of work to do. And we are passionate about it getting it done. Won’t you join us?