“Portland Timbers, here we go!”

We are all fans of something, whether it’s a cause, a person you admire, or an idea. However, when you hear the word “fan” a lot of people think offhand of being a fan of a sports team; the jersey wearing, SportsCenter watching, season-ticket holding, drinking out of a team logoed coffee cup, crowd that never misses a game, on TV or in person. Of course there are the fan-atics that paint their bare stomachs in below-freezing weather or will throw a punch at an opposing team’s fan if they say the wrong thing, but let’s stick to the healthy version for now, the kind of fans that we encountered yesterday when the Portland FMYI team (partners included) attended a Portland Timbers MLS game at Jeld-Wen Field.

For some of us (myself included) this was our first Timbers game. Before the game, our president, Justin Yuen, printed out some team chants and songs, some uniquely written to be sung to the popular tunes of “You are my sunshine,” “Feliz Navidad” and the theme from the iconic video game “Tetris.” I laughed these off as a friendly gimmick, having never fans singing at major league sports games. But I had yet to be introduced to the “Timbers Army.”

The Portland Timbers Army contains members that fall into the first definition of what a sports fan is. They are the season-ticket holders that all sit in the north section of the field above the goal, creating a mass sea of green and white with clothing, flags and Timbers team scarves. But I heard these fans before I saw them…heard them singing… and they never stopped singing from the moment I took my place in section H to when the game ended. They stood the whole time, proudly making their way through each chant and song on the list. Three people stood at the front facing the crowd like orchestra conductors, guiding them through each lyric, urging the crowd to clap and raise their hands in unison. These were fans.

It’s quite an atmosphere to witness on the border of what is the Army. Here you have a congested group of people that are all there for the same reasons: first for the love of their team, and then for the love of the game. As an outsider, it makes you want to share that feeling of devotion and join their boisterous singing, but no other part of the field came even close to the energy of that section. Everyone else is sitting calmly with a drink or nachos in hand, only occasionally shouting encouragement when a Timbers player dribbles the ball near the opposing team’s goal.

Maybe it was because we were on the edges of the high-spirited north section, but the FMYI team was definitely on their feet that day, cheering for the Timbers and trying our best to sing along with unknown lyrics and clap in rhythm. It could’ve been the round of margaritas at Mazatlan beforehand and the beers in our hands that were partly responsible, but we were thoroughly enjoying the time we were spending together outside of the workplace. Since we use our own collaboration software internally, we have built a socially-based environment in the office and enjoy a sense of community because of that. However it’s nice to take that same approach as you relax with your co-workers and enjoy each others’ company. There is a natural camaraderie that comes out when we’re not talking about shared tasks at work, but other things like the game and our non-FMYI lives. And even though we aren’t members of the Timbers Army, it’s nice to appreciate someone else’s exuberance and show our support for their cause, the Portland Timbers soccer team.

“Portland Timbers, here we go!”

Live to innovate,
– Sarah

Sunday Parkways

Have you experienced Sunday Parkways in Portland? On 5 summer Sundays in 5 different Portland neighborhoods, streets close to cars and open to a glorious, neighborly utopia! It’s like a block party for miles. From Portland Bureau of Transportation’s website:

Portland Sunday Parkways is about connecting neighborhoods and people: walkers, runners, bicyclists, seniors, adults, and children all enjoying streets filled with surprises, performers, physical activities and food – and traffic-free. The 6-8 mile routes connect Portland’s beautiful parks and offer a chance for participants to listen to music, try other activities, such as hula hooping, or just relax and enjoy the smiling faces.

You can walk, run, or just hang out at Sunday Parkways, but the opportunity to ride bikes down the middle of the street with loads of other merry-makers is one I look forward to all year long. So, come experience one! The first 2011 event is this Sunday, 11-4. It’s “East” and the loop passes through Lents, Bloomington, Ed Benedict and Gilbert Heights Park, including a section of the Springwater Trail.

Realizing the Sunday Parkways season is upon us got me all fired up about recreational rides with the family in coming months. In my daydreaming, I stopped by bikeportland.org and stumbled across recent photos in a series that Jonathan Maus is running. If you need some summer riding inspiration, treat yourself to this: bikes on the waterfront.

Design-Happy Hour

Join us every last Friday of the month  in suite 202 for good company, conversation, and community!

Please RSVP to attend here.

We hope to see you there!

Lite-Brites: dc202’s Open House

Thank you to all who were able to make it to the dc202 Open House on October 22!

We really appreciate the continued support of our families, clients, and friends, and are excited to be part of the growing connectedness and cameraderie that we’re finding here in the Leftbank Community.

big smiles, bright lights

Last evening marked yet another big moment in the early growth of the Leftbank…  it was the coupling of two events – a ritual monthly(ish) happy hour and the GRAND opening open house of the GreenVille Project.

Celebrating the opening of its new Portland headquarters here in the building, GreenVille founders Jae Larsen, Eva Longoria and Butch Klein did it in style.   They invited the Mayor, pedicabs, models, big wigs and small wigs alike.    We invited the rest of the Leftbank community, and all rolled together, this one was a scene.       Food, drink, music, a melting ice cap sculpture Jae carved herself, a TV crew (see their work here), and even some trees played a role.    Those came courtesy of Portland’s Friends of Trees, a beautifully simple, dedicated, and effective non-profit who are ‘greening’ the city in the most literal, tangible way.

We also took time to welcome more new tenants to the Leftbank community…  First Gameplan, a potent bunch who specialize in capacity building for non-profit groups and organizations (presently moving into suite 208), and then gallopowell studio (taking 210 – and yeah, I am the ‘powell’ in gallopowell). We both got baskets filled with gifts from the other tenants, and while carrying around a basket at a party is not the way I usually roll, the symbolic transition from working-on/developing/imagining this place to being a ‘tenant’ here felt damned fine.   Now a day later, thinking about digging in and doing work alongside GreenVille, Gameplan, PFM, FMYI, Blue Tree, dc202 and the rest feels even better.        Let’s get to work!

Another festive Happy Hour!

Last week we had another fabulous Happy Hour here at Leftbank, this time welcoming two more tenants to the building: the GreenVille Project (to quote their website) – “an eco-conscious retail development firm … committed to designing, building and maintaining community based, sustainably built, energy neutral retail marketplaces” – and Blue Tree Strategies who (again, from their site) works with “clients to build and implement valuable sustainability strategies that fit within their overall long-term business strategy.”

It was a casual, fun, friendly event with great grub (thanks, Cafe!). If you want to be on the list for the future Happy Hours, email Joanna and ask her to add your name and email address.

See you next time!

World Cafe at Leftbank

What is it that excites you most about creating an alliance with other businesses committed to sustainability? What parts of this newly forming business alliance do you most want to see take root and grow?

These are the questions posed at the “World Café” – a format where broad questions are asked over food (from the Cafe – yum!) and wine in an intimate setting in order to garner the collective wisdom of the group. This World Cafe happened here at Leftbank on Monday, June 15th, with Karen Whisler, Consultant with Conversation That Matters, and Sattie Clark of Eleek orchestrating the ritual.

People from a diverse range of sustainable businesses – many who were part of the very successful PDX Lounge – attended this event. Four people sat at each table, armed with markers and post-it notes to get the conversation – and potential new organization – moving… Stay tuned to see where it goes from here!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

the happiest hour.

a few weeks back, Leftbank had a big day. It was May 28th, 2009 – and the end of all major construction operations was upon us. Of course, there were no protests or great controversy in the face of these operations, and thankfully no real suffering, but there was often struggle and often pain.   …ok,  that might be overstating it a bit.  But it was the culmination of an enormous amount of work, and countless long, long days.             –and more importantly, cause for celebration.

We celebrated in the newly minted lobby, had drinks from the still-drying cafe bar (no worries, just mineral oil!), and ate delicious food from leftbank friend and partner, Bon Appétit.     One thing that struck me so was the sheer number of people that joined us.. and more than that, in fact, was that I only knew a small portion of them.    I’ve been involved since the ramshackle beginnings of this endeavor, a hand (or finger) in what seems like just about every aspect of the project, and come to know a great many good people in the process… But seeing so many new faces was straight astounding.       And mixed in were great tenants seeming already at home, like folks from Portland Farmers Market and the gang from Upstream (not to mention Alex and his Upright brews, too), plus an equally exceptional crop of new tenants, too.    That eve, we officially welcomed Bill, Gary, Holly and co. (who together make up SOLIDCORE, JHL design, ORANGEWALLstudios and intelligent design), The GreenVille Project, and Old Town Computers into the fold.

All told, once again, a fine, fine time.     Thanks to all who made it so.    Onward we go.

steel never tasted so good

I recently talked to Hans, Leftbank’s superintendent, and he told me a fabulous story of steel recycling that i want to share…

All of the steel removed from Leftbank during the renovation – all 6-8 tons of it – was recycled by D&R Salvage, a husband and wife team. The husband – Ronny – is a recovering drug addict, which no doubt affects the way he lives and works.

Dring their time with Leftbank, Ronny and his wife would pull up to the building in their truck and load it up with steel to sell. They kept only as much money from the steel as they needed to live, using the rest of the money to make meals that they drove around in their truck and handed out to Portland’s homeless.

Hans told me that they recycled every possible piece of steel from the building, right down to the wire backing of the lathe and plaster that they would beat until all the plaster was removed.

This is another example of how present and thoughtful the people working here have been during the process of creating Leftbank. At the risk of sounding sugary, it’s really an honor to be here. This experience has reminded me several times to stop for a minute, take a breath, and figure out the best way to get something done that puts people first…

the social life, 2008.

looking back across the rich and varied days of the last year, it’s a bit overwhelming to think of all that has transpired..     at the heart of everything is the birth of the Leftbank Project.   While it’s damn near impossible to pin down exactly when it happened, it’s not hard at all to know that it has.   Some might argue it was born through the events it hosted, and others might suggest it was when the first folks from the outside joined in.   Still others will suggest it was most deeply connected with the physical transformation of these wonderful, formerly derelict buildings… regardless, it was quite a year.    For a look back, get cozy and read on..  We’ll be doing a series of these lil’ retrospectives over the next few weeks, starting with this look at the year in events…

that is, EVENTS!
the T:BA festival, Oregon Manifest, the city’s most happening NewYearsEve party..  for a building not yet even officially ‘open’, leftbank’s arrival as a place for happenings was rather auspicious.   Honestly, Even though Leftbank’s been conceived as a place to gather people from the very start, even the most ardent believers amoung us were a bit suprised at this… The fun began in the midst of our so-called indian summer, as we opened our doors to a mellow mob of marchers holding signs that said Nothing high above their head.    It was a reenactment of Anna Halprin’s ‘Blank Placard Happening’- a playfully austere initiation of the 10 days of performance and festivity that is Pica’s T:BA festival.   As home to the WORKS, the late nite hub and spiritual center of the festival, Leftbank saw literally thousands of creative luminaries and revelers gather within its grand, raw space.   And so, the beginning began.       Just a few weeks later came Oregon Manifest, and with it the most righteous collection of handbuilt bikes and bike people on the planet.    It marked the first use of Leftbank’s Greenroom  event space and also brought the opportunity to host what was likely the most raucus bike party of the year, the Rapha Roller Race.

RAPHA Cross Roller Race – Oregon Manifest 2008 from RAPHA on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, downstairs in the garage, the people from pica were preparing for a month long gallery exhibition and yet another party of their own, this one celebrating one of their greatest patrons, Leslie Durst.  This event, called ‘The Butterfly Effect’, gathered some 120 works she has commissioned through pica over the last many years, and also inspired a series of performances Cloud Eye Control’s latest piece, “Under Polaris”.

Under Polaris-fixed from citrusink on Vimeo.

And so this way the fall tumbled on and more events came with it.. Including the IPRC’s annual Text Ball, a holiday party for our good neighbors, the Trailblazers, and in the spirit of the historic, often mind numbing and seemingly endless election season, Ralph Nader stopped by, too.   His occasion was a fundraiser for his presidential run, and while there’s no shortage of excitement around here for Barack Obama’s movement, it was a welcome opportunity to step outside of it all and discuss once more what the words democracy and citizenship truly mean.

As the year wound down, we couldn’t have closed out without a proper nightcap.. and proper it was when Stylus503 and Leftbank pioneers, Chychele,  conspired to create “Rare Magic”, the most smashing and stylish get down of Portland’s NewYears.   It channeled the boppin ghosts of the building’s jazz club past, and ushered in the new year with fine drinks, fine people, and the finest grooves from DJ Beyonda, Rev Shines, and Leroy Trenton.     All said, ’twas a damned fine time.