Growing up in the Vancouver area, Amy has been surrounded by public transit. She began using transit at a young age, riding with her mother around town to get to where they needed to go. After taking a break from using public transportation, Amy began to start riding again about seven years ago when she joined the C-VAN community. Her passion for public transit and the good that it brings to our community ultimately encouraged Amy to join the C-TRAN Citizens Advisory Committee.
Around the same time Amy began using C-VAN, she began venturing down to Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver. “I love the greenery and how it incorporates walkways, and I love the history of the park,” Amy says.
She comes down to Esther Short Park a few times a week for a multitude of reasons: to walk, have lunch, meet up with friends, to sit and to attend events. The park has long been a focal point for the city, and now it’s a focal point for Amy.
Dale has met a lot of people—and worn a lot of hats – during a lifetime in the Northwest.
He attended some of the first meetings in the 1960s that resulted in Rose City Transit becoming TriMet. He’s been politically active, including working on Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign. He’s run for office himself. He’s been a mentor. An advisor. A friend.
Mostly, Dale does his best to help the people around him.
“That’s the Presbyterian tradition,” Dale says. “Caring and compassionate.”
A resident of the Portland-area for decades, he now calls Southwest Washington home. His family history in the Northwest goes back all the way to the 1800s.
Serving the community, he says, is something of a family tradition.
Bryan is a recent arrival to the Northwest, having moved here for work. He still refers to the Washington, D.C. area as home.
In time, that may change.
“I’ve been here for three weeks, and I think this is the most amazing place I’ve ever moved. The people are awesome. The city itself is awesome. Vancouver to me is like … it’s quaint, but it’s still big and lively like there’s stuff going on. And I just can’t get over how nice people are here.”
He adds: “I think this might be the place where I can actually put down some roots.”
Coming from the East Coast, Bryan says he’s blown away by how friendly people are in the Northwest. He’s impressed by how reliable and clean the bus system is. He’s even found himself acting differently—more relaxed, more patient, his stress level down.
“There’s something about this area that truly just brings out the best in me.”
When Aaron started working at Oregon Health & Science University almost four years ago, it meant a big change to his commute. The OHSU campus sits on Portland’s Marquam Hill, where parking is in short supply.
“Just by the nature of the geography, transit is a must,” Todd says. “But once getting over that initial hurdle, I found that I really, really enjoyed it.”
Aaron had spent the previous few years commuting daily from east Vancouver to Tigard. The hours added up. So did the frustration.
“It was the worst part of my existence at that point, and I just loathed it. And then once I started riding transit, I realized all the time that I was losing was productive time I had back.”
Now, that time is spent reading, working, gaming or just relaxing. An environmental health and safety specialist at OHSU, Aaron earned his most recent professional certification thanks in large part to the time he spent studying on the bus.
When Dick and Laura moved to Vancouver—part-time starting in 2011, then permanently in 2016—it took some getting used to. After spending most of their lives and careers in Chicago, Clark County was a jarring change of scenery.
“This is suburban living for us,” Laura says. “It’s a different kind of living for a new phase in our life.”
Dick is a retired transit professional; Laura is a retired teacher. Both now volunteer. But it’s a different job that brought them to the Pacific Northwest: Grandparent. Their daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren live in Camas.
Though they’ve left the big city, they haven’t entirely left the urban lifestyle. Dick and Laura walk most places close by when they can. If it’s a farther trip, they still opt for transit.
“Transit is such a way of life in Chicago. It has to be. The city would choke otherwise,” Dick says.
Here, he adds, “we have made an affirmative effort to use the bus whenever we can, even when it’s not terribly convenient. But we feel it’s the right thing to do.”
Growing up, Rachel was frequently around people with disabilities. Her parents cared for and adopted multiple special-needs children. And her younger brother, Aaron, was born prematurely and lives with an intellectual disability.
Rachel is grateful for that opportunity. She’s grateful for the experience and perspective it gave her. Now, as an adult, she’s giving her own children that same opportunity as she takes care of Aaron full time. Rachel and her family moved to Ridgefield three years ago, and she now attends nursing school.
“I love that my kids have the opportunity to be around people with disabilities. There’s so many people who grow up and live their whole lives and never have that experience. And then when they do finally see someone with a disability, it’s kind of jarring, and they don’t know how to interact with that person.”
Rachel already sees the empathy in her own children that she learned at a young age.
“When they see other people that are not exactly like them, they’re really good at recognizing that those people are still people, and those people have wants and needs and interests, just like them. I love that.”
Moira proudly calls herself a “fan girl.” Her fandom covers a range of stories, games and TV shows, including the Japanese animated series “Hetalia.” She even dressed as a character from the show at a recent cosplay event.
That interest also fuels another passion: writing. Moira writes fiction, and draws inspiration from the stories and worlds she immerses herself in. She also finds inspiration in her surroundings – even a bus ride. Moira, a high school senior, started riding C-TRAN after getting a Youth Opportunity Pass through her school.
“I got that, and started more regularly going out, and started building independence as well.”
That process has been a positive change, she says, but it hasn’t always been easy.
“I am not inherently independent. I’ve got my dog. I’ve got my computer. What more do I need?”
For Glenn, love of the outdoors is more than a hobby. It's a passion and a career: He's one of the founders of Columbia Land Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization he continues to lead as executive director.
It's a passion he's held since he was growing up in New York state.
"My family, we went hiking, backpacking, spent a lot of time outdoors since I was a kid," Glenn says. "And I came out here to the Northwest in part because I just knew its reputation for being such a beautiful place."
It was a land trust colleague who got Glenn and others to shift to a car-free commute about five years ago. Glenn found his way to a combination of bicycling and transit to travel between Portland and Vancouver each day. Today, he says, "it's a real disappointment if I have to drive."
"My quality of life is way up. I'm not getting aggravated sitting on the freeway in heavy traffic. I can just sit quietly, or I can do some work."
Since Kristal moved to Vancouver in March 2017, her time here has already taken some unexpected turns. For work, she's currently serving lunches in Evergreen Public Schools.
"And I never ever thought I would ever be a lunch lady," Kristal says. "Being a lunch lady, I have one role, which is basically make sure that kid is getting their lunch, and make sure the next one gets theirs."
Kristal uses public transportation to travel everywhere, and has impressed her grandmother - whom she talks to every day - with how much she's learned about her new home. Kristal moved to Clark County from San Diego for school. She plans to enroll at Clark College. And she's found a stark change of scenery from Southern California.
"I felt like I was growing up in a bubble, so I kind of wanted to pop that bubble. People are like, 'Oh, what are you running away from?' I'm not running. I'm running to something."
For his entire life, Harry has lived with a seizure disorder. The first seizure he remembers happened at just two years old. When the diagnosis became official, Harry received an important message from his parents.
“The day that I was diagnosed with epilepsy, they took me home and sat me down in the living room and sent my brother and sister away. And they said, ‘OK, you’ve just been diagnosed, and you’ve just been handed a list of things you can’t do. Try to concentrate on the ones you can.’”
Harry has always tried to find his niche since then, even if it has evolved over the years. He’s volunteered for numerous local organizations. He’s comforted families in the ICU of a local hospital as a counselor. Now he strives to help people wherever they are. Often, that means sharing some of his own experiences.
“To help other people, I had to reach inside myself and deal with things that had happened to me. And that was the hard part. Once I got that, though-- it’s very good for me to be able to do that.”
“It’s extremely fulfilling. But it’s not the ‘sit in the office, tell me your problem’ kind of feeling. It’s just, if I sense somebody needs an outlet, I provide that outlet.”
Art, Meredith says, is the love of her life.
Meredith has studied art since age 8, and she’s been a gallery artist for 30 years. She has a fine-arts degree. She has sold paintings over the years, but like many artists, found it difficult to rely on for financial security. She worked office jobs to supplement that income, she says.
More recently, Meredith has found a way to combine her passion and her job. She works at Aurora Gallery, the oldest art gallery in downtown Vancouver.
“Now I finally get to implement my degree and my education in a financially stable job that allows me to help other artists and showcase my work and every day just be a part of the art world, which I really appreciate,” Meredith says.
“Twenty-five years ago when I started out with my (degree), I had no idea what I was going to branch off and do. So it’s nice to be able to come full circle.”
Carolyn is a familiar face around the C-TRAN system, but few people actually know her name. Most people know her as the “bread lady.”
For years, Carolyn has baked loaves of bread for C-TRAN drivers, customer service representatives and other employees. She started baking for them shortly after she started using the system to get to work. She’s been doing it ever since—much to the delight of those on the receiving end of her treats.
“It’s very special to me to do this. The bus drivers, if you look into their eyes, it’s like a window to their hearts,” Carolyn says. “It’s my way to show them I care about them. They do work hard for their money.”
Among her specialties: banana nut bread, zucchini bread with crushed pineapple and pumpkin bread with chocolate chips or craisins. In return, Carolyn mostly gets smiles and hugs. And that’s all the thanks she needs.
“I don’t ask for money,” Carolyn says. “I do it because I care. I do it because it’s from my heart to their heart.”