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Final Week at CoCoDesigns: Suzanne Kasler and Serving Up Style Preparations

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My final week at CocoDesigns was filled with officework, but not exactly the boring kind. I researched furniture and other interior companies that I personally liked, and sent them donation requests for an event Lora participates in every year called Serving Up Style. Serving Up Style is an interior design competition in which 25 local designers compete for awards before a judging panel and general audience. All proceeds from the event are donated to Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus, a charity dedicated to assisting those with lupus through increasing public awareness of the disease, organizing outreach, promoting early detection and more. Last year, the sponsors for Serving Up Style included HGTV and Houzz, a popular online interior inspiration website. I spent a lot of time looking through websites and drafting emails to companies whose products I liked. ABC Home, Avenue Road, Caitlin Wilson Textiles and Oly Studios were among the companies I contacted. I even got my own @cocodesignspdx email address to seem more official! I’m sure this definitely helped my ethos in this realm!
 
In addition to the emails I sent and the research I did this week, I also showed Lora one of my favorite consignment stores in Portland, and accompanied her to the Parker Furniture 2013 Market Show. The market show at Parker was an interesting experience. Around twenty company representatives from companies such as Hickory Chair, Arteriors and Eastern Accents were present. We got goody bags, but to my disappointment these only contained brochures for the companies and discounts, rather than actual physical “goodies.” Guess they have to make money off the event anyways! My favorite company there by far was Eastern Accents, who makes bedding and other textiles. In their display, they had a throw pillow with an embroidered zebra that caught my eye—however, after some research I found out that it was selling for over three hundred dollars. It was a nice pillow, but I’m not sure if I could justify that purchase at this point in my life, or ever, really! I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming.
 
The main event of the Parker Furniture Market Show was a presentation by Suzanne Kasler, who is a very famous interior designer. She currently has lines for Hickory Chair, Ballard Designs, Lee Jofa, Safavieh, Soicher Marin and Visual Comforts. She also has her own interior design book named Inspired Interiors. She talked with everybody who attended the show about her design process, and walked the audience through different rooms she designed for her own use and for her clients. Her major point was that inspiration for interior decorating can come from many places, including unexpected ones, if a designer keeps their mind open. Her signature look usually contains white walls with accents of color, usually light blue, and classically styled furniture. She definitely has her own style and doesn’t deviate too far from it, which is probably expected from somebody at her level of interior design. Lora mentioned that she can pick and choose who she wants to take on as a client, meaning she doesn’t have to just take any job somebody offers her. Now that’s luxury! I attached a picture of myself and Suzanne in the photo gallery. I’ll be talking more about my experience with her in my presentation, so stay tuned!
 

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Email ethos

Too bad you won't be able to attend Serving Up Style. Maybe Lora will share pictures? I'm sorry to hear your swag bag was disappointing, but it sounds like Suzanne made up for it. I had a great time visiting with you and Lora last week, and I can't wait to hear about your fledgling dorm room design business!

Dream [Beam] Team

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And just when I thought I was used to hanging out in the Beam office, it's already over. Did I blink? But wait. I'm not done yet! I still need to give a presentation to the office on all that I've learned and researched! I guess I'll be going back, then. (Can't get rid of me that easily, no no - they'll all see me Monday). But actually, I'm pretty sad that my senior project is wrapping up.
 
Just when I was comfortable enough to make my own cup of noodles without my palms sweating (okay still a little sweating)! I mean, really. I've learned a lot though, and I really appreciate how welcoming and friendly everyone has been in the office. It's a little scary sometimes (all the time) being the youngest doing anything, and especially when everyone else has a college degree and I just learned how to be a human, like, a year ago (and probably still have a ways to go).
 
So I thought I'd tell everyone a few things I've learned about "growing up" and "being responsible" and "working in an office."
 
1. Wear layers because it will get pretty cold or hot in your office, depending on the day.
2. Move around or you will get cramps in weird spots.
3. Sitting all day is kind of a bummer.
4. Natural light is awesome.
5. Google sometimes auto-corrects INCORRECTLY (once it corrected "a lot" to "alot" and I gasped in horror. Shame on you, Google).
6. Trying to be seen and heard a little as possible (office ghosting) is exhausting and not very fun.
7. Adults like to goof off too! Oh my god!! (Everyone needs a break, I mean really).
8. Being late is always uncool, unprofessional, and generally annoying. (Kind of already knew this one, but still. It's true).
9. People actually care what you have to say, even if you're 100% winging it and were born during the Clinton administration.
10. Write it down. Always write it down.
 
Here are some things about property development that I've managed to store away as well:
1. Politics are always involved.
2. Micro finance is deceptively simple. Financing is ridiculously complicated and I applaud all who somehow manage it.
3. If you want to make it, you have to be innovative, creative, and confident.
4. There are 9,000 plus things that can go wrong in a building, and as a developer you have to fix it.
5. Property development, when done correctly, can be a social experiment in place-making (and all the better for it).
 
And here is a list of things I'm really going to miss:
1. Feeling like a champion of the office world (haha, jokes, but I'll miss feeling so professional since usually I'm just being a goob on campus).
2. Getting to know the people in the office better.
3. The dogs. The office dogs are the greatest and I want them both.
4. Learning new things, meeting new and interesting people (I would say my knowledge of property development has increased 5000%).
5. Having my own office. (Can you tell how much I liked my office? I'm ridiculously in love with the concept. It's a power trip. I am on a power trip. I resent this because lets be real, I'll probably not get my own office again for like 30 years. What a let down. Thanks, Beam, for raising my expectations. But actually, thanks Beam! For everything.)
 
A big thank you to Brad, Joey, Liz, and the rest of the Dream Beam Team (rhyming always intentional) for helping me!
 

Ultimate regret: I never did purchase a pantsuit or a briefcase. (Sorry Hillary!)

I'll see if I can swing a pitcure of the office staff on Monday. 

Comments

I like your list..

Sitting all day IS a bummer. Get a job where you have to move a lot (like teaching...)

Yes--your lists rule!

Great to have the Layla sense of humor injection. But all your points are spot-on. Always write it down, 9000 things can go wrong, and the financing is pretty hard to figure out, ain't it? Somehow I think you'll have your office before too long....

Office love

One can only dream.

An Office Ghost Tells All

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Week three at Beam is already over. What? How did that happen? (The Earth revolved on its axis yada yada yada - we all get it ok, SCIENCE). But seriously time flew by! My week hasn't been so different from the others, so I thought I'd give you a rundown of what my day looks like.
 
7:30am: Wake up and panic because I'm going to be late for class. Realize I am 2nd semester senior. Remember my name. Remember Senior project. Get nostalgic about how time has flown. Decide (eventually) to get out of bed. Grumble about being a "slave to the clock" and then chuckle at own joke. No one hears (it's not really a joke - probably still semi-asleep).
 
7:55am: Dressed and ready, but still unaware. Make tea. Drink tea. Eat food. Emerge from haze. Realize clothing is on backwards/dirty/inside-out. Groan. Change clothes and remember to brush hair. 
 
8:15am: Lounge around then remember I actually have to commute to the east side and panic about being late again. Leave house immediately. Get in car and realize I've left all belongings in the house that are necessary for the day - including keys.
 
8:20am: Back in car, bag on passengers seat, keys in hand. Take a moment to recognize my own togetherness. Back out of garage, almost hit stupid cement wall that has been there since the house was built. Curse cement wall. 
 
8:30am: Still on Burnside. Complain loudly to self about traffic, because thats what real adults do. 
 
8:40am: Finally across the Morrison Bridge. Panic about having to make the same unlighted left turn to get into Beam parking lot. Sit for 5 minutes while cars pile behind. Decide to grow a pair. Check intersection exactly 457 times. Inch forward. Take deep breath, charge into intersection that has been clear for at least 1 minute. 
 
8:45am: Gather things in parking lot. Walk one block to Eastbank Commerce Center. Curse rain for ruining your cute flats - vow to wear more practical shoes tomorrow (forget vow and wear different but equally impractical shoes the next day). 
 
8:50am: Walk into building. Straighten out hair and still half-grown out bangs. Try to make bangs look presentable. Fail miserably, get very angry. Put hair back in bobby pins. Wish I were Rapunzel. Walk to office.
 
8:55am: Say hello to Joey if he is at his desk. Say hello to anyone passing in the office. Attempt to appear calm and professional. Pet office dogs for longer than is necessary to avoid eye contact. Walk down the hallway to office. Turn on light, set down bag. 
 
9:00am: Walk back out to Joey's desk. Wait for him to finish call/conversation/doing a real job and stare at walls/pretend to read framed articles about Beam which I've have already read at least 7 times. When it looks like he's done, act casual but ask him what I'm supposed to do today. Exchange pleasantries. Figure out good time to meet later in the day. Say okay to whatever time is offered. Go back to office.
 
9:10am: Sit at desk. Turn on computer. Open google. Open all relevant word documents to research project. Wait 500 hours for word to load. Curse computer. Sit angrily waiting for computer to do anything. Finally. Go back to chrome. Open 12,000 tabs of articles and searches. Begin sifting through information. Stop occasionally to type something up. Hyperlink. Research. Repete. 
 
9:55am: Wonder what the heck "dividends" are. Decide government is fickle. Silly contractors. Read article about Mayor Bloomberg or something else off topic. Refocus.
 
10:10am: Computer begins to overheat. Ignore. Computer shuts itself down. Mentally curse all technology and pout (why CAN'T a girl have 94 tabs open, OKAY?). Restart computer. Plug in charger which requires crawling under desk. Worry someone will walk in on you with your butt sticking up in the air. Worry about indecent exposure. Try to get out from under desk as quickly as possible. Too quickly. Hit head on edge of desk. Again.
 
10:40am: Decide it is time to stretch/go to bathroom/take a break. 
 
10:50am: Do some more research and try not to get off topic. Fail occasionally (can't resist articles about angry city hall meetings - its like a soap opera but real). 
 
11:15am: Someone will inevitably come into the office to say hi/see how it's going. It will scare me to death because my back faces the door. Try to play it cool, like I didn't just squeak in fear. Say hi back. Exchange pleasantries. Go back to work.
 
12:15pm: Decide it is acceptable time for lunch. Eat at desk because I'm too chicken to eat with everyone else/not actually sure what they do. It's whatever. I'm independent and cool. Right? 
 
12:17pm: Try to eat as quietly as possible so that I don't disturb the office. No one can hear me anyway. Still try anyway.
 
1:00pm: Meeting with Brad & Joey or just Brad or just Joey. Variety is the spice. Try to appear cool as a cucumber. Fail. Pretend to understand what they are talking about. Nod. Write a lot of things down. Hyperventilate because I am completely winging it. Try and sound knowledgable. Second guess self in front of them. Mentally face-palm. Curse teen angst. 
 
1:15pm: Researchresearchresearchresearchresearch.
 
2:15pm: Get back cramp/butt cramp/foot cramp. Walk around office for a while. Go back to desk.
 
2:30pm: Write things up. When Word freezes, I am zen. I am calm. I am zen. I am calm. Hurl computer at the wall. Mentally. I am zen.
 
2:55pm: Pack up. Congratulate self on being a "grown up". 
 
3:00pm: Say bye to Joey and dogs/anyone else I see in on the way out.
 
3:05pm: Try to start car. Fail. Curse Car. Try again. Drive home.
 
3:30pm: Fall asleep on couch and/or binge watch old seasons of Project Runway. Decide to like Tim Gunn, once and for all. 

Comments

Mirror, mirror?

If you had a mirror on your desk, you could see when people come up behind you like the "Foe Glass" in the HP series. I am still very vague about what you're researching and where your research is going to end up. Will look forward to hearing about it when I see you weds.

Love Tim Gunn.

Your day sounds just like Ben Franklin's . . .

I love the play-by-play! Yes, it appears you have discovered much about what makes "real adults" tick, but there's more out there than traffic!

I hope during your last week your typical day will include less hyperventilating and cursing, because you will be confident because you will remember what an amazing job you're doing. OK?

Thanks for your wonderful blog, Layla.

Your fan,
Nichole

P.S. I kind of lke Tim Gunn. . ..

PowerPoint & I are like THIS

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Despite all the rumors, I don't actually just sit around in my office all day taking naps on the thoughtfully provided couch (can you tell I'm still excited about the office?). No no, I type furiously fast and keep open more tabs than Peter Shulman (didn't think it was humanly possibly - but computers are pretty darn impressive - and not human, so I guess that makes sense). I've spent the last week continuing my research, and delving deeper into the realm of property development. Taking the outline of topics that I created last week, I tried to flesh out topics and to further expand my knowledge.

 
On Monday, I presented to Brad and Joey what the heck it was I DO all day. They asked questions, and made some comments and suggestions for me to work on. Brad then asked me to be ready to present to him again by Friday. Gulp. As much as I feel like I've learned, I still get nervous about presenting information even though everyone has made it perfectly clear it doesn't matter that I'm basically winging it (teen angst, I guess). I talked a lot about the importance of sense of place and how that plays into creative cities, districts, businesses, etc.
 
Then I made another presentation. And it was incredibly long (45 slides or something like that). And I spent all day (Friday) on it. The title was "All About Attitude" because Catlin has taught me a catchy title is always worth it (even if it's cheesy). So needless to say, Microsoft PowerPoint and I are basically in a committed relationship at this point. I may have strayed with the alluring vixen that is Keynote, but eventually I returned to my beautifully loyal PP. The presentation was the culmination of all my research. There were several slides on what "live/work" space is and how to categorize different types of live/work, more on creative cities and districts, micro-housing (and micro-finance), and crowd-sourcing. These topics are all going to be amalgamated into an even bigger research project, that sort of synthesizes everything I've found so far into a more cohesive piece (that I will potentially be presenting to the school or the office. Some platform or another).
 
Other than research, on Wednesday, I attended a luncheon with Brad and Jonathan that was honoring William J. Hawkins III for his work in historical preservation with the McMath Historic Preservation award. There were several architects and other members of the developing community present. Though I only knew Brad and the other members of Beam, it was fun to be introduced to different people and to just kind of absorb the whole event. There were a few presentations with a lot of references that sailed right over my head, but I found it interesting just the same. The other bonus for me was getting out of the office for a spell (don't think I'm complaining - my office is still the greatest of all time - I just also happen to like sunlight, thank you very much).
 
This week, Brad won't be in the office, but Joey will be helping me navigate my new project (or expansion of the other projects) and I'm looking forward seeing how far I can push this.
 
UPDATE: I still have not purchased a pantsuit. It's really not essential, but sometimes I just want to feel like Hillary Clinton, you know? 

Below I've attached a PDF of my last presentation for Brad. 
 

Comments

Research! You're doing fine work

Hi, dear Layla!

Thanks for attaching your presentation, which was pretty impressive, by the way! You chose some great photos to illustrate your information. It's clear that you've learned a huge amount this past month. Glad to know that you've formed a strong commitment to your software package ;-)

One of the things that I consider a challenge in neighborhood development is what happens when the first few waves of artsy, largely younger people have established themselves, as in the Hawthorne district, and then the area grows so popular that a much more mainstream group of people seeks to snap up the real estate, and completely change the price, the vibe, and the look of the area. When I first moved to Portland in the early 90s, there were some motorcycle bars on SE 37th and Hawthorne, followed by a feminist bookstore and a flourishing of cool cafes, and now we have the Peet's and Starbuck-ization of the neighborhood, which is rather less artsy than it used to be, in some ways. Housing prices went up so much that small businesses got priced out, and apartment rents were too high for many creative people. It's complicated, this development thing!

Miss you, and I'm glad that you're learning so much!
--Sue

I'm just glad I helped you find your way yesterday

It was great to see you, even for just a few minutes! Keep rocking that Power Point!

Questions

Impressive powerpoint. You should check out prezi... it's my new favorite! So, I'm still unclear about the brief for this presentation... was it meant just for Brad / Joey to show them what you know about Creative Communities or are you taking this 'on the road' as part of presentations that the firm will give to future clients?

I'd like to come visit you next week. What's your schedule? 9-5? 8-4?

Answers

Brad really wants me to delve into the questions "what makes communities work" and "how can they be creative" whatever that means for a particular area. I don't think I would present this for clients, but rather this research is going towards branding Beam. I think this is sort of Brad's brainchild (the whole work/live situation) and no one in the office can ever really research it because they have a) real jobs and b) real work to do. This is important, certainly but it's hard to research in depth when you are supposed to be accounting, managing properties, dealing with clients & contractors and all that jazz.

I work from 9-3 or sometimes later, depending on meetings/when I can meet with Brad or Joey.

Week 2 at CoCo Designs

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This week, I got to look at pictures on the computer and compile lists of them. If this was on paper this would be called “collaging,” but since it’s not and the internet loves to be unique it’s called “Pintrest,” “Tumblr,” or “work.” A client wanted a less expensive version of a chair, so I spent a solid two hours trying to find similar models that wouldn’t break their budget. Furniture websites are pretty, so I got sidetracked a couple times during this task. Namely, my mentor and I discussed Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe choices while pregnant. Some comparisons to pregnant Jessica Simpson were made (I’m so sorry, Kimmy). We also both agreed that Kim and Kanye are perfect for each other because they’re obsessed with themselves. Their kid will turn out wonderfully humble and balanced.
 
After researching chairs for a bit, Lora and I met with the owners of a financial planning firm. The two owners are opening a new office in the Lincoln Center, and we showed them the design plan Lora had created for their office. I convinced them into choosing the wood floors I liked the most. Victory number one for Valerie. I guess a caveat to that victory is that I convinced them into the color of wood, but the style Lora had picked out had hand-scraping on it which they didn’t like. But that wasn’t my fault, right? So I’ll still take that victory. Plus, they told me (technically “us” but I’ll take this one too) that they’ll trust whatever I (“we”) pick out for style. This means they don’t need to okay their hardwood floors. Lora and I picked out their floors after our meeting. Trust is a crazy thing! I put some pictures of the flooring showroom down below.
 
Additionally, I think I conquered my fear of telephone conversations this week. I had to call different furniture showrooms to ask for pricing, customization and other options for furniture, and I successfully interacted over the phone without crying. I didn’t even cry when a photography company yelled at me over the phone for a deadwall Lora forgot to fix. Victory number two for Valerie. A deadwall, in case you were wondering, is a blank wall without any decorations or furniture in front of it. It’s visually “dead.” Designers usually put décor on these walls. This brief foray into customer service made me realize I have dead walls in my room that I need to fix ASAP. 

I am now trying to install a gallery wall in my room. See picture gallery for an example. This specific project isn’t going so well seeing that I am an art snob and will only buy original pieces that cost a fortune (if anybody has any abstract artwork or block prints they’d like to sell me, please let me know! Warning: do not be offended if I’m too snobby for them/if I am impossible to please). I gave up trying to buy an original abstract piece today and decided to painted my own piece instead. Think the documentary "My Kid Could Paint That!" but with a 17/almost 18 year old. Less cute and more starving artist. This is not really a solution to my problem of finding art because I'm already insanely critical of art overall, which makes me even more critical of my own (victory number this is not a victory somebody please help me) (I have been researching gallery walls all week) (I still don’t have one) (help) (how am I going to be able to live in a dorm after this internship) (I am going to stop typing right now and find more artwork that I will probably not buy because it will be too expensive) (See you on the flipside… hopefully)

Comments

Good genes and expensive taste

I'd count those four as victories for sure! I love the idea of the gallery wall, too. I'm realizing that I have a house full of deadwalls. Sometimes I like a little negative space, but the gallery wall pic is inspiring. Hang in there, Valerie. I'm sure you'll have the most glamorous and orderly dorm room ever!

Week 2: Swing down, sweet chariot, stop, and let me GLIDE

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I had a very busy second week working with GLIDER. Between juggling the two projects I've had to work on that I described in my last blog post, Eli was in and out meeting with investors, on the phone with potential business clients, etc. (he even added over two more hours to his work day.) Meanwhile, Justin and Cameron are as busy as I've ever seen them. So I'm glad to be of any sort of help, and I'm learning a lot observing Eli managing this company.

The first project I worked on was helping Eli research and compile a list of businesses with over 100 employees that have been seeded by venture firms that Eli is connected with. I had to find out the names of their CEO, COO, VP of Sales, VP of BD, and their sales operations managers are (which wasn't easy, the information on linkedin often differed with the information on databases like crunchbase and on the company websites.) I think that next week either Eli or I will be reaching out to some of these people to try to pitch GLIDER to them so they can use it in their actual businesses, as an alternative to having to manage their contracts and sign deals the way they currently do.

The second project I've been working on has been helping Justin with content for his blog, The Future Of Work (http://futureofwork.glider.com/). The blog is meant to be a stand-alone project that discusses how "smart enterprise" tools are disrupting enterprise as usual. The premise is that, today, because of how seamless and successful consumer tools like Facebook and Twitter are, workers expect the same quality of performance from the tools they have to use at work. Often times, the IT departments of their work give workers tools that they'd prefer to substitute for technology they are more familiar with, so when workers bring in their own technology to be more efficient to work (BYOD = bring your own device), the IT departments and CIOs can be the last to know. Services like GLIDER that are making work much easier and far more efficient are disrupting entire industries. I spent the majority of last week working on a blog post that discussed this (it'll get published next week), with links to various articles and a big shout out to one of my all time favorite comedies, Office Space. I also helped on a running series called "The Business Setup" that showcases the different technologies that modern businesses use to be more efficient, like Github or Hipchat. I've learned a lot of interesting things by managing this blog, like the "Flesch-Kinkaid Readability Test," which uses a formula that involves ratios between words in a sentence and syllables in a word throughout the text to indicate how comprehensive and difficult the reading is. For example, on a 1-100 scale, a blog post should score above a 50 (fairly easy to read or skim). The text in blog posts can't be like text from Dickens or in Heart of Darkness, which would probably score close to 0, if not in the negatives.

Next week should be a little less busy. Besides the senior/first grade trip to the zoo, the GLIDER team is going down to San Francisco for another tech conference that would introduce them to more VCs and angel investors called "Under the Radar," so I'll be working from home those days. We also move into the new office in the Pearl next week, which I'm excited about (more food options for lunch), so I suppose I'm helping Eli move furniture on Monday.

A quick anecdote about the week: on the second floor of my building, there's a modeling agency and I always see the two women who scout potential models walking out of the building at the same time as me whenever I'm on my lunch break. So they invite me into their office one day after work to have my picture taken and meet their boss, and when I come in to see the open casting call, I literally see some of the cutest girls ever, who aren't even that much older than me. So I come in, everyone's all smiles, I'm making nice conversation with this blond girl on the couch waiting to have my picture taken, when they tell me that I'm too short. (Really hurt my pride with that one.) It's not like I've ever felt any desire to model, but I feel like it would be funny to have girls see my face going into an Abercrombie. Knowing me, the whole thing would be very ironic. Anyway, this story has made for some funny jokes in the GLIDER office, and hopefully I get into more funny encounters in the new building in the Pearl. 

Here's a video featuring GLIDER from the Wall Street Journal: http://live.wsj.com/video/what-does-it-take-to-be-the-next-hot-start-up/B800F8EB-BBAC-4262-A09C-8B9F7316F78F.html#!B800F8EB-BBAC-4262-A09C-8B9F7316F78F

Here's an article about GLIDER from Tech Crunch about GLIDER's launch at Disrupt in NY: http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/29/glider-launches-at-disrupt-ny-with-saas-that-automates-approving-and-signing-contracts-adds-intelligence-to-deal-flow/

In the picture below, Eli is writing something up on the whiteboard and Cameron looks super engaged.


Comments

Heart of Darkness shout-out!

I was glad to read the bit about the readability test, and see some of our brunch conversation make it in your example!

I'm also glad that the project is going well, and that you're keeping such a positive attitude about the stuff you're learning. Way to go, Ben!

And great to see you yesterday!

Nichole

Interesting links...

Hope to be able to read your published article this week. Like Meredith, I would love to be able to hear more specifics about what you are working on, if you can tell us without violatting confidentiality. Do you feel that GLIDER is meeting all the requirements for being a successful start-up, as outlined in the WSJ piece?
And I loved the story about beiing "discovered" as a model!
I plan to come with Meredith on Friday, if I can find a sub for the AP exam I am supposed to proctor!

Project deets

Hi Ben,
I'm looking forward to visiting on Friday at 11. It sounds like a fast paced and evolving environment. I'm glad you are able to help work on developing connections for Glider. I'm fascinated by the readability ratings for blog posts. It sounds like you're thriving and enjoying the start up culture!
Take care,
Meredith

Not all Avian Species are Created Equally...

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       "There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in pludering their conquered neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry" 
-Benjamin Franklin

 

      If you reader, were to ever find yourself in a life or death situation where your very survival depended on the pure wit and intellect of either a Turkey or Chicken, Don't get cute, pick the chicken. This is just one of the countless pearls of wisdom I have gathered in my first four days working at La Finquita Del Buho, a CSA organic farm in Hillsboro.  
     
        My mentors, wife and husband Lyn and Juvencio have run La Finquita Del Buho (Little Farm of the Owl) since 2000. The farm follows the CSA or Community Shared Agriculture model, meaning people within their community buy shares of the farm in exchange for regular shares of the harvest. Currently La Finquita Del Buho has over 65 members and they continue to grow. The CSA is an interesting model of farming, one with many benefits. For one, the virtue of having consistent members means the demand will always be predictable, allowing for maximum efficiency. However the noticeable drawback is that the farm has to always meet a certain number for their output to satisfy their customer base. This pressure forces Juvencio and Lyn to work extremely hard and efficiently, an act which I have seen plenty of this week.

   

         I arrived at the farm on Monday Morning around 8:00. Pulling up the winding gravel driveway I was greeted by the seemingly always cheerful face of Juvencio, the farm’s co-owner. The best way to describe my co-mentor is that he’s a man’s man. He’s the type of guy who has an unrelenting energy that never succumbs to weariness. He’ll do about any job, no matter the difficulty, and always with the same steady endurance. When he’s not head down in work, we’ll shoot the breeze and talk about life. He has made for a great mentor these past few days, and I’m fortunate to learn from him. Anyways descriptions aside, Juvencio and I first drove to see his new pigs. We fed them cow milk and grain, both of which were quickly demolished by the animals. We next turned to harvesting Bok Choy and Chinese Broccoli, which was quite a fun task. The rest of the day and by extension the rest of the week (Farming is certainly a repetitive job) saw me watering, seeding, harvesting, transplanting, among other things. A noticeable highlight came when we installed a new pipe system for a bed of recently planted crops. The pipes are fairly easy to install, and they make life much easier, as they eliminate the need to hand water plants, which is as Juvencio puts it, “A full time job”. Working my way back to the cryptic title of this post ( There is a method to the insanity) , on Thursday Lyn and I drove to pick up 17 week old Turkey chicks, that she plans to raise for Thanksgiving. She told me that Turkeys are extremely fragile, and that out of the 17 she expects to raise less than half of them to full maturity. Upon getting them out of the box I understood why. Lyn and I spent upwards of twenty minutes training the Turkeys to drink water. This basically consisted of picking up the chicks and dipping their beaks in water. Without us, I’m sure they would have died right beside the water dispenser.
         On Saturday I met Lyn and her partner Polly at the Saturday Market in Beaverton at 5:30 in the morning. Lyn and Polly have sold plants at the market for years now. When I arrived to the market, various merchants were frenetically setting up their booths. With the help of Lyn’s son Diego, we quickly set our booth up with little issue. We (Rightfully) expected a huge turnout because it was the opening day of the market. I manned the cash register for the day, and I saw hundreds of faces. I had no idea that plants could be so popular. Needless to say the booth saw a lot of business.

 
           
            I have greatly enjoyed my first week at Lyn and Juvencio’s farm, and I have already learnt a ton. It’s tough, laborious work but it’s rewarding. Most importantly I don’t feel like a glorified paperboy, which I feel sometimes happens with internships. Instead I have made a real difference here at the farm, and I feel like I have been more of a help than a burden. There is something inexplicably romantic about turning one's own sweat and work into a palpaple result. It surely is an honest man's work.  Moving forward I am excited to learn more about the art of organic farming, and I hope to continue making a difference here at La Finquita Del Buho. Until next week! 

Comments

Ben, you're certainly keeping

Ben, you're certainly keeping very busy on the farm. It seems that you're learning a lot of useful skills. I didn't know the difference between chickens and turkeys that you have discovered.

Teaching those turkeys...

Would love to see a photo of you training the turkeys! Loved your blog post and opening quote! Good weather so far for a farming senior project - maybe I'll see you at Farmer's Market next week! (although I usually go to LO). We miss you in c and c!

John Kitzhaber is the Batman

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Before they became their current job, most politicians started off as lawyers or executives. But what about the people who started off as doctors?

I am starting my second week of working at MandateMedia, a small Portland-based company that conducts research on how technology can be better used to assist political campaigns. That sounds counterintuitive- when somebody says political campaigns to me, I think of knocking on doors, speeches, and debates. Since when is technology important?

It turns out that, in the 21st century, technology can be extremely useful. Facebook and Twitter are cost-effective ways of reaching large groups of people. More importantly, they give ordinary people an outlet to voice their opinions and organize, meaning almost anyone can participate in the political process now. MandateMedia spends a lot of resources on learning about how to write the best Tweets or Facebook posts. For instance, I have learned that the best Facebook posts are posted in the late afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, contain a photo, and start off with an incendiary sentence. There is actually a great deal of social science involved in message delivery, and when political power is on the line, people will want to find ways to optimize their messages.

MandateMedia also sends the mass emails that almost all political campaigns rely on nowadays. If you have ever signed up to receive emails from a campaign in Oregon, then you have likely received one of MandateMedia’s emails. About half of MandateMedia’s clients are from Oregon: big names like Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Peter DeFazio, and Sam Adams. The other half is national clients, such as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

There are five “real” employees at the office. We work in a small space in the basement of a house. Kari is the lead guy, and he brings a lifetime of experience to the company. Kari has spent most of his life in politics. He managed his first major campaign when he was a student the University of Southern California, successfully managing the campaign of his roommate to become student body president. He also happened to have a side interest in technology developed when he worked several summers at Intel as a high school student. The other employees- Carrie, Meaghan, Suvi, and Ben work on managing the advertising and social media uses of campaigns, fundraising, and political strategy. The workplace is pretty laid-back, and the team feels like a family. Everyone has an interest in politics, so there is constant debate about major issues such as red light cameras.

This has been a really cool opportunity for me, because it combines my two primary interests in computer science and political science. My work so far has actually been in computer science. I have been working on a program that reads the statistics for different mailing groups of the mass emails that campaigns send out. These emails are sent to various groups, such as “environmentalists” or “abortion activists.” I am writing this program in a programming language called Python. My job is to record and analyze the statistics of response rates of different groups to different emails. Things have been going pretty well so far, as I have a basic version of the program done already. However, it will clearly take a few weeks to finish this project. Fortunately, on Friday I managed to find a bug in the email server code that was slowing my program down. I wrote to the company that manages that code, and they have responded and rewritten their coding!

Of course, the coolest part of this experience for me has been being around people with so much real-world political experience. Kari told me a neat story on Friday about John Kitzhaber. Kari was at a governor’s debate in 2010 at Oregon State University between Kitzhaber and Bill Bradbury. It was a pretty uneventful debate, there were maybe 30 people there, and nobody was really killing it in the debate. There was a homeless man with a long beard and wearing rags sitting in the back. Suddenly, the homeless man started coughing up blood. One person in the crowd saw him, and shouted “is there a doctor in the house?”

While Bradbury was still delivering one of his statements, Kitzhaber looks up, without even changing his own facial expression, and starts running. He runs up to the man, kneels down, and starts pumping his chest. He directs somebody to call 911 and asks for a wet towel. At that moment, Bradbury knew he was not going to be governor.

I am looking forward to the next few weeks here. It has been fun so far, and I am sure I will have more great stories to tell.

Comments

Great first week!

It sounds like Python should hire you next!
Questions for you:
Is Mandate Media involved in any of the campaigns on the ballot this week?
Is most of the work done in the office, or do they work on/attend campaign events too?
Can you learn how to make one of those cool LEGO signs for my office? Maybe a Catlin tree?

Hi Blythe, I don't think

Hi Blythe,

I don't think MandateMedia is specifically involved in any of the campaigns in this special election. I can't think of any discussions in the office about it, but I will definitely ask Kari tomorrow.

Most of the work so far has been in the office, but it also isn't campaign season right at the moment! I have heard stories from Kari and co. about campaign events they went to, so I am sure that during busier times they attend events.

I think the Lego sign was professionally made! It is really cool and was the first thing I noticed, too. It is definitely on my bucket list of things I want to learn to do.

"All the elements of business: market research, strategic PR, profit and loss - I'll have that report to you on monday!"

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Pyramid Communications is a strategic communications firm that works strictly with non-profit organizations and charity foundations. I am shadowing on a new project with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, but some of their other clients include: KEXP 90.3FM, Northwest Evaluation Association, Northwest Health Foundation, Sierra Club, Seattle Foundation, and many, many more. A lot of the clients are from Seattle since that is where the firm is originally based. Besides Seattle and Portland, they also have an office in San Francisco. Pyramid focuses on five pillars: education, conservation, native, health and wellbeing, and culture. To sum up their work their stated cause is to: “We integrate strategy and creative services with our fluency in arts and culture, conservation, education, health, and issues facing tribes and Native communities. We help organizations nourish communities with sustainable food systems, foster early learning opportunities today for a stronger workforce tomorrow, and invigorate local economies by supporting small business.”

            While I'm at Pyramid, I will be working on three different projects. One of my projects (and I think the most interesting) is shadowing the Portland team as they work with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. This is not the first time they have worked with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, but this is a new project that is based around fundraising. (I’m not actually sure if I'm allowed to talk about it, so I will leave it vague). The second of my three projects is to interview employees of Pyramid to get them excited to start blogging. Here is the overview of the project that I wrote in the project brief: “The project is to interview a selected group of Pyramid employees, hopefully a person from each branch of the company. The challenge is to build excitement and identify opportunities for staff engagement with the blog. Pyramid wants its employees to contribute to Pyramid’s blog in order to demonstrate the distinctive nature of the firm, and to display their in-house expertise and experience. The goal of this project is twofold: firstly, for Koby to speak with people that are involved in every aspect of a projects completion, and secondly to hit upon themes that employees can blog about later.” The third mini-project I will be working on is looking at other firms in order to get a firmer grasp of how Pyramid is different from the rest.

            Pyramid is very different from other PR/advertising firms around. First of all as I mentioned they work specifically with non-profits. As Sarah (one of my co-workers) put it: We make the world a better place through strategic communications.” When I was talking with Tripp (the head of the Portland firm, and the man I contacted to get the internship) he said that there is a very intentional environment at Pyramid. He encourages his employees to ask questions because it helps them think as a team, and when a wider base of knowledge is used, they produce greater results. When you walk into the office, this environment is very evident: there are no cubicles or dividers and there is a seating area for casual meetings. It is very evident that everyone that works there does so because they really believe in a cause to strengthen our community.

 

 

Comments

Excitement about blogging?

Hey Koby, we miss you in C and C! I'm glad you are having a good time with your senior project. I am curious how you get people excited about blogging- sounds like a good project for you. Have fun and keep sharing about your experiences- we are reading!

Blog

Hi Koby,

Is the blog up and running already or no? I tried finding it on the website and couldn't. If so, post its URL.

That sounds like an ideal project, since you will get to meet many different people in the company.

The blog is called 'The Word"

The blog is called 'The Word" here is the link: http://www.pyramidcommunications.com/about/word
at the moment there aren't very many relevant posts on it. People just randomly post when they have time/have something to write about. Part of my project is to get people to post mroe often so to show that Pyramid has in-house experts on all subjects.

Coco Designs - Week One

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My senior project has been pretty cool, and here’s why: I am pretty cool, and interior design is pretty cool. I mostly follow my mentor Lora around. On Monday, we met and talked through our plans for the month. Lora has a good amount of clients right now, but as I’ve learned, there’s a lot of waiting around in interior design. Here’s a list of some of the things you need to wait around for as an interior designer:
 
1.     Contractors.
2.     Architects.
3.     Furniture companies.
4.     Showrooms.
5.     Clients.
 
I’m probably leaving many people/institutions off that list. Lora needs to wait for contractors and architects because many times there are rules governing what she can and can’t do in a space. For example, in her new office on SE Main, management told her she couldn’t remove fluorescent lighting, paint plumbing fixtures, or remove a sink that came installed in her space. She has to roll with these limitations and figure out other creative ways to make spaces look nice. Instead of removing or painting the sink, Lora decided to customize a bamboo screen divider, which covers up the sink. One thing that I’ve re-discovered in this internship experience is my love for creating things. That doesn’t sound very eloquent, but essentially that’s what it boils down to. I helped Lora decorate her office, and for it I had to hand-sew drapes. Lora customizes a lot of her personal pieces, which is a lot of fun to help her with. She painted the table below (which she found on Craigslist!) to look like hammered metal. We’re not totally done with her office, but we’ll be working on it more on and off next week.
 
Helping Lora decorate her office is really the only thing that I have personally done. Otherwise, my project mainly consists of shadowing Lora while she goes to showrooms and visits sites she needs to design. On Tuesday, Lora returned fabric swatches to Parker’s Furniture, a major furniture showroom on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. While we were there, we looked around and got pricing for custom-order furniture. Something is considered “custom” when non-company fabric is used. Many furniture companies have sets of wood finishes and fabric swatches for each piece of furniture. When clients want to use a fabric outside of this range, it costs more for the client (the custom price is the price of the furniture piece with the most basic fabric plus the cost of the custom fabric) and it almost always takes longer to manufacture. Not all companies and furniture pieces have this option, so it can be a hassle to be able to buy a chair with a certain kind of fabric. This was a major issue/point of stress for Lora at Parker’s Furniture—one of her clients wanted to buy a very specific piece of furniture in a specific fabric, but the sales associates at Parker’s Furniture didn’t know if this was possible. It’s hard to make people happy!
 
Later in the week, I also visited a trade-only showroom with Lora. This kind of showroom is much different than Parker’s Furniture, which I was familiar with before I started my project. Anybody can walk into Parker’s Furniture, walk around, and order whatever they’d like. However, in trade-only showrooms, only interior designers and other people in the design community can purchase from or even go into the showroom. The trade-only showroom was a lot smaller and didn’t have the quantity of furniture on display that Parker’s had, but it was filled (and I mean completely, utterly overflowing) with binders full of furniture (and women) and fabric swatches. This showroom was overwhelming. Lora told me it could take weeks to look through every single fabric swatch in the showroom. The sales associates in this showroom were very warm, and I hope I’ll be able to go back to look around a little more soon.
 
Until next time!

Comments

Waiting for...

Hi Valerie. Yep, we designers are pretty cool! As an architect, I can relate to that frustrating phase when you have to wait for everything, especially for clients to make up their minds. I hope Lora delegates more responsibilities to you gradually. Keep us posted!

Binders of...

...women? That table looks stunning! It sounds like you're having a lot of fun with Lora and a great time showing off your creative skills. I wonder if you're getting any cool tricks for your dorm room next year? Maybe pay attention to technique for making tiny, cramped spaces more spacious and inviting. I would have never guessed that interior designing/decorating would involve so much...waiting around. Good luck searching for the perfect pieces next week!

Week 1: Bringing Baseball Back

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My dream job is to be the General Manager of the New York Yankees. I once read an article that interviewed many MLB GMs about their advice for becoming a GM. One of the most prevalent reccomendations mentioned was to intern with a Minor League Baseball team, and after my first week with the Hillsboro Hops, I completely understand why.

On a Major League Baseball team, you have 100+ people working in the front office covering everything from marketing to ticket sales to athletic facilities. However, on a Class A (the lowest level) Minor League Baseball team like the Hillsboro Hops, all of those tasks are handled by about 5 people who all work in one office. I share an office with three other people, who handle ticketing, marketing, promotional events, and countless other things. The small size allows me to experience every facet of running a professional baseball team.

At one point during my senior project, there was a moment when I looked around and every single person in the office (including myself) had a live Major League Baseball game going on his or her computer. I immediately knew I had chosen the right place to spend this month. I work in a temporary office space off of Cornell Road in Hillsboro that the Hillsboro Hops front office staff is working in until they move into offices at the new stadium. On my first day, the Hops' General Manager (and my mentor), K.L. Wombacher, drove me out to the stadium and we watched as cushions were put on seats and beautiful artificial turf was rolled out in the outfield. The new stadium will be completed on June 10th, a week before opening day.

I attended a meeting on Monday with the Hillsboro Parks and Rec department. We discussed stadium logistics such as parking, but I also got a glimpse into parts of baseball I had never thought of before. I saw a schedule of things that need to happen on game days, that ressembled ones that I have seen before on high school teams. Items including "batting practice begins" and "bring out L-screens" hold a lot of familiarity to me as a baseball player.

So far, the work that I have done has been pretty mindless grunt work. I've created huge spreadsheets filled with the contact information of every single person to buy Hops tickets so far. I labled and organized boxes containing all of the Hillsboro Hops merchandise (if you want a hat, come into the office and I can get you set up). It's not glamorous work, but someone's gotta do it. Plus, to be perfectly honest, it doesn't bug me one bit. I love the atmosphere here. I love this idea that I'm going to be part of the beginning of this team. I love that I'm a part of bringing professional baseball back to the Portland Metro area for the first time since those dastardly Timbers executives squeezed out all of the childhood joy that PGE park brought me, and replaced it with the terribly-named Jeld-Wen field. 

The last piece of information that I have to share is the fear-inducing news that I was given on Friday: if the team has not hired someone to be the official mascot by opening day, it'll be me prancing out there in a giant Hop costume..

Comments

I am SO

coming to see you as the mascot! Seriously, let me know what day!
I'd love to hear stories of how the players are recruited... what are their lives like? do they have 'day jobs' that practices have to be scheduled around?

The mascot thing is a

The mascot thing is a definite maybe. If I was the mascot, it would be for opening day, which is June 17th. The majority of the Hops players don't even know they're Hops yet, because they haven't been drafted. Once kids in high school and college are drafted by a Major League team (which in the Hops' case is the Arizona Diamondbacks), they are sent here.

No player here has a job other than being a professional baseball player, but their lives are very scheduled. On game days, they have to be at the ballpark at a certain time (sometimes up to 5 hours before the game starts) to practice and get ready for the night's game. There is some great baseball played here as all the players are working exceptionally hard to move up the Minor League ladder and make it to the Show.

Food Chain films

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 Hey all!

I am working at Foodchain Films for the next month. You can check out their work here! I am really excited to be working along side Brad Goldthwaite who is the executive producer and owner of Foodchain Films. 

Building a Winning Political Campaign

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 I will be working with Kari Chistholm for a small, Portland-based company called Mandate Media. Mandate Media conducts research on how technology, especially communications technology, can be used to win political campaigns.

Money Flows

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 I will be working with a financial advisor planning learning how to sort through peoples financial situations, analyzing markets, and learning the complexities of the American Tax system.