The Hanai Listening Project

The Hanai Listening Project was designed and implemented in 2018 by Carli Smythe to help Hanai develop a clearer picture of the community landscape. Carli and a small group of volunteers listened to 115 contributors representing a broad spectrum of Central Oregon residents.

Over the course of six months and 350+ hours, we listened to understand what barriers to living, working and gathering exist today, to understand what brings people together and what tears them apart, to determine who will want to use the space and how, and to identify ways in which Hanai can make a meaningful difference in the community experience.

We listened to the recently arrived and the generationally rooted. We listened to grassroots leaders, pastors, educators, mothers, nonprofit leaders, students, makers, fathers, farmers, lawyers, environmental advocates, Spanish speakers, healers, artists and so many more. The Listening Project notebooks are filled with the voices of our community and guide our work today.

Hanai’s Listening project served as both an opportunity for Hanai to learn about our community and show commitment to incorporate what we’ve learned into program design. Each listen was as much an opportunity for all to experience authentic connection as it was an opportunity for researchers to collect data. We asked each participant the same five questions and took copious notes of the responses we heard.

Here are a few of the thoughts and suggestions recorded reflecting common themes:

“[We need] spaces for learning and creativity” “Diverse spaces.”

“[It’s] hard to find community in Bend.” “Hard to make in-roads; took a couple of years to establish ‘family’ when we moved here.”

“[I see a] disconnect between cultural groups.”

“[There is] opportunity to create and build community… opportunity to be engaged in building” “People come here to build something different.”

“Bend is becoming more diverse. With diversity…there [are] more needs and some…aren’t being met.”

“What I think Bend lacks most is beautiful, versatile event space.”

“Lots of places reflect the brewery culture of bend.”

“[We need a] neutral space for robust conversations [about] very real, personal challenges…authentic conversations skillfully lead, guided by others who have skill with that.”

“[There is] no retreat space [in Bend]…for people to get together in an inspiring space.”