Why I Organized the World Naked Bike Ride in Bend
The decision made me nervous. I was told it was "off-message" and "crude." "Bend isn't ready for this, stop trying to shock people, Lief." And my favorite: "This is a family-friendly town, stop trying to turn Bend into Portland." That line came from the most radical Vietnam Era protesters I work with as a community organizer.
The Source Weekly published "Woah, Bend! You sure don't like naked bike rides" (7/12) featuring mostly disparaging comments from the World Naked Bike Ride event page and ignored several supportive ones. Today, I read a news article about a similar controversy which inspired me to write this. A woman was arrested for her lack of clothing in public. These were some responses, reminiscent of the Source comments.
"People who don't respect the rules don't deserve to live here."
"What she did doesn't fall under personal freedom. It's clear that she wanted to provoke people and go against social rules and norms. She deserves to be punished."
Was she also a naked cyclist? No, she was Model Kholoud, a social media star in Saudi Arabia. Her crime? Walking around the street in a skirt and sleeveless t-shirt.
It's hard to explain to people who are offended by something shocking and radical why it is important. When confronted with censorship, many will say "If you don't like it, don't participate, and let others express their rights." I disagree: if you were uncomfortable by the 15-20 naked cyclists that rode the streets, if you don't understand why it is important to combat shame, to be vulnerable and weird in a traditional or conservative town, if you don't understand the outlandish link between riding a bike and being nude, then join us next year.
Get out of your comfort zone, and meet the 41-year-old woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, recently divorced, with "Look at me, Wild and Free" painted on her open chest. Meet the gay introvert new to Bend from the east coast who just didn't think he fit in this town. Meet the lifelong commuting cyclist that has fought shame against her body and travels to participate in World Naked Bike Rides in different towns.
It's an indescribable feeling to take all your fears and channel them through a defiant, anti-shame stunt...and then to be cheered for it, as every pub we passed did that evening.
Thank you to the Bend Police and Cruiser Ride for providing support in safety logistics, KPOV and Bend Source for advertising, thank you to the people of Bend for showing that you are more progressive than many who write letters would like the world to think.
Oh, for the record, I'm from Austin y'all, not Portland. We're much weirder.
See you next year Bend!
— Lief Bamberg
Les Schwab Concert Floats
Anyone who has floated a river for a concert at Les Schwab Amphitheater knows that there are security guards hired by The Old Mill to stop floaters from getting out on the banks of the river. The sidewalk is also roped off to prevent land-based music poachers. Although The Old Mill is private property and they have every right to prevent people from eavesdropping on the concert, the method of preventing the river folk from getting out is actually not entirely legal and is potentially dangerous.
Per Oregon.gov: "The public has rights to use the beds and banks of navigable waterways for any legal activity, such as boating, fishing and swimming, including pulling your canoe or kayak onto the bank."
I saw a female security guard at last week's Jack Johnson's concert physically stop an obviously drunk young man with a leaking tube from getting out on the bank on the river. He was instead forced to try and float downstream about a ¼ mile to get out where there was not security. The Oregon.gov website also states that: "In cases of emergency or if it is necessary to travel around a barrier, the public may temporarily go above the line of ordinary high water." For this intoxicated man, who barely had a flotation device, it may have been an emergency for him to get out in the restricted area. The people who have come close to hypothermia on the river could also make the case that they have an emergency situation requiring them to get out on The Old Mill property.
I understand that there is a "riparian area" along this section of the waterfront and support the goal of only trampling one section of the green space. However, the way The Old Mill is currently proceeding is potentially dangerous to human health, safety and welfare. If someone really needs to get out of the river, you cannot stop them, even if you are the landowner. Additionally, do we really believe that The Old Mill owns the sidewalk north of the freedom bridge, or is roping off this area taking away public access to the publicly owned river trail?
— Laura Marshall
In Response to, Dear Middle-aged Man Driving Brown Porsche (7/20)
Hey Tory, you did nothing wrong. That guy is a menace! I just got home from having that ass-pilot come screeching to a halt nearly rear-ending me. When I opened my fresh Source Weekly, there was your letter describing him and his behavior perfectly. I sure hope Bend traffic officers read The Source and will be watching for this guy. He needs to be revoked before he hurts someone.
— Mary Martin
In Response to, Oh Dam. It's Back (7/19)
Interesting that you exclude the pond in front of the Old Mill District from your criticism. Drake Park provides a lot of shade for the river compared with the barren banks of Mill Pond. I can show you a 1935 aerial view of Bend that shows the mud flats below Galveston existed just a few years after the pond was created. The Old Mill Pond is the current settling basin, but, hey, no problem there?
Developers and Bend Parks did some shady land deals to get title to the bottom of the pond. But their plan is not to dredge the river. It's to burden downtown businesses for tax money.
The only thing that would be better for the Old Mill would be if they could drain Mirror Pond and the downtown businesses.
Now you're leading the charge and playing into their plan.
I know Source editors would like to see a free-flowing river so they can cast their fly rods into a downtown river. But do you seriously think that you can revive a fishery in a city of 100,000 fishermen? Wake up and smell that nasty smell. It's not dead fish. It's corruption.
— Tim B.
Letter of the Week
Tim, thanks for your perspective, but this Source editor is no flyfisherperson. Congrats, you snagged $5 to Palate!
— Nicole Vulcan, Editor
In the July 20 Spotlight article, the name of a hiking trail and a website were misidentified. Bend resident Kolby Kirk hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail and his website is thehikeguy.com