Someone once wrote, “The measure of a man is defined by his
ability to triumph over trials”. This could
easily apply to towns as well. The measure of a town is defined by its
ability to triumph over trials. A man triumphs over trials by facing them,
overcoming them, learning from them and passing that wisdom on to others.
Same process for a town.
Recently, a tragedy struck North Bend. Someone set fire to a
dream. Many people refer to it as Twede’s Cafe. The fire caused hundreds
of thousands of dollars damage to the restaurant, put dozens of people out
of work and impacted consumer spending in other downtown businesses.
Yet, as I sat in the North Bend Theatre last Sunday night, attending the
wonderful benefit for Twede’s Cafe, it was reassuring to know that the dream
is still alive.
Kyle Twede had always dreamed of running a restaurant. He
wasn’t looking to get rich from it. Just a small cafe where he knew everyone,
where he could serve the food he loved to create. Kyle’s dream came true the
day Twede’s Cafe opened for business three years ago.
Since the fire, I have been concerned for Kyle. Having
recently walked through his badly burned, smoke-damaged restaurant, it’s hard
to see anything left of the dream. Having to deal with the aftermath of
the fire and the emotional trauma, it would be easy just to add the dream to
the pile of charred, unsalvageable ruins.
Yet as I sat in the theatre, I realized it was no longer just
Kyle’s dream, but a common one shared by so many there, and so many
that couldn’t be there. Twede’s Cafe is important to North Bend residents
because it is a part of them. It defines who they are. It’s part of the
ideological foundation of small towns. Belonging. That is why you live in
North Bend. To have a waitress walk up to you and pour your coffee without
having to ask if you want coffee. To turn to the people at the table next to
you and ask how their mom’s surgery went. To be a part of a large,
eclectic family as diverse as the burger menu at Twede’s.
In that theatre, I saw what the measure of North Bend was. A
compassionate community that looks after one of its own. A community that
values its heritage. A community that is facing a trial, and overcoming it. But
there is a long way to go. Help break down the inevitable barriers and red
tape. Don’t lose that community passion until the “Grand Re-opening”
banner welcomes you back in for “Cherry Pie & a damn fine cup of coffee”. For
this isn’t just about rebuilding one man’s dream, it’s about embracing and
preserving a common one.
What can North Bend learn from this trial, and what can they pass on
to others? I could probably list quite a few, but will keep it to one. Trials
are inevitable. But they’re no match for the human spirit.