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This week I visited the town of Sisters to check out some of the galleries and bookstores.  Established in 1901,  it is one of the oldest frontier towns in Oregon.  A Century ago the main street in Sisters was closed down three days a year so herders could move thousands of sheep from their summer grazing in the high countriey to their barns in the lower desert. Now the thousands of sheep have given way to thousands of tourists.

Beginning fifty years ago, the Council changed building codes for retail and restaurants to better reflect the towns original history in the 1880's style.  It worked, and walking the streets of Sisters is an experience not to be missed.  Now the City is preparing for the next decade to balance and manage the tourism related industries such as lodging, restaurants and the bookstore and art gallery scene.

I was surprised to learn how Portland Icon, Gert Boyle, has already played such an oversized role in the arts community.

Dispatches from the Dry Side

Culture, Curiosity and Character

about the Oregon East of the Cascade Mountain Range

Previous Dispatches can be

seen here

You know her---You love her.

Now an icon in the sportswear business, Gert was once offered $15,000 for her recently departed husband's business.  "I'll run it into the ground myself for  that," she told him and walked out of the room.  As the head of Columbia Sportswear she created one of the most famous brands in retail history, and a flagship of business success in Portland.

What you didn't know was that she and her daugher have helped to transform the art scene in the Central Oregon town of Sisters.

In 1973 Gert's daughter, Kathy, with her husband and little girl, settled in Bend where she opened a Columbia Sportswear outlet store. Kathy was a practicing artist and "When Mom would visit we talked constantly about the idea of creating a foundation for the arts. At that time the town of Sisters was undergoing a transformation, both architecturally and culturally, and was seen by some as the Jackson Hole of Central Oregon. 

 Kathy Deggendorfer and her Mom began discussing the idea of creating a foundation.  “I live and work in Sisters, Oregon and Mom was a frequent visitor,” says Founder Kathy Deggendorfer. “We love rural Oregon, its scenic beauty, and the creative community of artists who live throughout our regions.” The focus of the foundaton would be to help celebrate art and creativity. "In 2002 we established The Roundhouse Foundation primarily using funds from mother's estate," Kathy related in an interview.  The focus of the foundation would be to help celebrate art and creativity in Central Oregon and has since grown to include not only the arts, but of all the creative problems facing the rural areas of Central Oregon.

In 2017, the Roundhouse Foundation purchased Pine Meadow Ranch in Sisters to fulfill Deggendorfer’s long-term vision of creating a space for artists, conservationists, farmers, ranchers, educators and scientists to come together to share space and ideas while working in an inspirational setting. The Ranch serves as a model for interconnected work and the basis for collaborative economies. Now, through its grantmaking and investing, the Foundation has distributed over $5 million to hundreds of organizations that are paving the way for creative problem-solving in rural communities.

In 2017 the Foundation purchased the 230-acre Pine Meadow Ranch, an historic working ranch that includes  a bunkhouse, caretaker’s cabin, woodworking sheds, tack rooms and the ranch house.  "Our goal is to preserve the land, the views, and historic buildings of Pine Meadow Ranch to develop and expand arts, agricultural and ecological projects using the assets of the property."

Check their website for workshops, community programs and risidencies.


Roundhouse works in and across four areas that are fundamental to thriving rural communities

 Arts & Culture

Environmental Stewardship

Social Service

and Education.

One of the recent Roundhouse grants, $20,000, went to the Family Access Network.  It will allow them to increase summer oppportunities for families to access assistance and opportunities so their children can begin the school year in a better position to flourish.

Learn more at

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