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Interview with APPL’s 2014 Excellence Award Winner – Capitol Reef Natural History Association

March 27, 2014

partnership honorable mention

APPL’s 2014 Excellence Award winner is Capitol Reef Natural History Association (CRNHA) whose book, Why the Moon Paints Her Face Black, took top honors in both the Children’s Media and Partnership Program / Project categories in our annual Media and Partnership Award program. The book was created as a result of a partnership between the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, linguistics student Chloe Brent, Capitol Reef Natural History Association, Capitol Reef National Park and the National Park Service Colorado Ecosystems Study Unit (CESU).

Our Member Service Coordinator, Nancy Kotz, recently had the opportunity to speak electronically with Shirley Torgerson, Executive Director at CRNHA, to learn more about the story behind the creation of this award winning publication.

APPL: This project involved a variety of partners including an undergraduate student, tribal members and park employees. What was the collaborative process like?

Torgerson: I got involved in the process when the project was well on its way. Chloe Brent, the author was the one most involved with the tribal members. When I heard about the project I could tell right away, after listening to her, that she had developed a great appreciation and really love for the Paiute people.  Eleanor Tom was also very happy to share her story with Chloe.  I knew that I wanted be a part of this exciting project. The last paragraph of our news release that we put in our local papers sums it up well:

This cooperative project demonstrates the best qualities of a partnership; the cooperation of people from many diverse fields and organizations working together to move an idea, from its first inception, through the long process towards a finished product.  “Why the Moon Paints Her Face Black” has drawn on the talents and efforts of many individuals and organizations to produce a book which expands our understanding of Paiute traditions, develops our relationship with the universal language of storytelling, and contributes to the preservation of this thread in the fabric of our culture.

APPL: What was it like to partner with a tribe and help them share their oral traditions through words – written and spoken – and art?

Torgerson: When the project was completed, and we had the book in hand Chloe and I attended the Paiute tribal meeting and presented the book and CD to them. Some of the Paiute people in attendance could not speak their Paiute language and was so appreciative to have this to keep and to pass on to their families.

 APPL: What advice would you give to other nonprofit public land partners considering this type of project?

Torgerson: I didn’t look at this project as a money-making project. It was a project that was dear to my heart. I grew up in a small community where the Paiute families lived and I understood how very important this publication would be to them now and for many generations to come.

I enthusiastically nurtured the project through editing, production, printing and distribution.

Shirley Torgerson with APPL Executive Director, Dan Puskar, at the 2014 APPL Awards.

Shirley Torgerson with APPL Executive Director, Dan Puskar, at the 2014 APPL Media & Partnership Awards.

 About Why the Moon Paints Her Face Black:

The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah has a rich history and cultural ties to Capitol Reef National Park. Southern Paiute is not a written language. Linguistics student Chloe Brent works to document and preserve endangered languages and conceived a project to record a traditional Southern Paiute cosmological story in both English and Southern Paiute in cooperation with the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. The CESU provided funding to Utah State University for a Chloe to complete her language translation project. Capitol Reef Natural History Association and Capitol Reef National Park funded the design and production of the children’s book which is now available in bookstores throughout the region. The book includes an audio recording of the story and brings to life a language known and spoken by few.

About the APPL Excellence Award:

Since 2005 APPL’s has bestowed our annual Excellence Award to a deserving publication, product or program selected from among the category winners of our Media and Partnership Awards. The award goes to a category winner that stands out for its quality, is accessible to a wide audience of public land visitors and exemplifies innovative partnerships.

2013 Young Professionals Mentoring Grant- Federica Corinto Update #1

September 26, 2013

APPL has received a commitment from a couple who are so impressed with the passion and dedication of young professionals in the public lands community, that they offered up a challenge and an opportunity.  For the third year in a row, they offered a grant of up to $3,000 to fund a project of the applicants design.  This year’s Mentoring Grant recipients are Robyn Whitted from the Great Smoky Mountains Association and Federica Corinto from Gateway National Recreation Area. The recipients have been asked to send in video updates throughout the process of their projects, to show how with this grant, they are creating much needed mentoring opportunities in the public lands community.

This update is from Federica Corinto, who aims to mentor Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns in developing skills and to help Gateway NRA better connect with the local community and youth organizations over the course of six months. To read Federica’s entire proposal CLICK HERE.  Below is Federica’s first project update:

Stay tuned for more updates from both grant recipients and a BIG  thank you to the generous couple who made all of this possible!

Interview With APPL’s Agency Partner of the Year Winner-Great Smoky Mountains National Park

May 7, 2013

Interview with APPL’s 2013 Agency Partner of the Year Award Winners – Dale Ditmanson and Kevin Fitzgerald of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

APPL focuses on nonprofit and agency partnerships, and the people who foster these relationships at the field level. Nancy Kotz, our Member Services Coordinator, recently had a chance to sit down with Dale Ditmanson, Superintendent and Kevin Fitzgerald, former Deputy Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the recipients of our 2013 Agency Partner of the Year Award. Here is what Dale and Kevin had to say about receiving this honor from APPL and about the value of partnerships between nonprofits and public land management agencies:

Dale Ditmanson

Dale Ditmanson

APPL: What was your reaction upon learning that you had been selected for this award?

Ditmanson: I was deeply honored that the Board of Directors and leadership of the Great Smoky Mountains Association would consider nominating Kevin and I for our partnership in caring for this special place, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I am humbled that their nomination resulted in Kevin and I being recognized as the Association of Partners for Public Lands’ Agency Partners of the Year.

Fitzgerald: I was completely taken by surprise upon learning the news that Dale and I had been nominated, much less selected for this tremendous honor.

APPL: Do you think winning the award will enhance the perception of your work?

Ditmanson: This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the true partnership we share with many organizations at the Smokies. It is not just the organizations, but individuals that have a deep appreciation and concern for caring for the National Park and the millions of people that visit year after year. So the question should be, will this enhance the perception of OUR work? Yes, I believe our partnership collaboration will continue to grow.

Fitzgerald I think that it will certainly affirm what we and those who know us already believe, which is that we sincerely value the relationships we have with our park partners. It has been long understood that perception in many instances is reality and our partnerships are genuinely solid, mutually respectful, productive and effective.

APPL: What do you believe are the most important factors in developing and maintaining strong and successful public lands partnerships?

Ditmanson: Our partnerships have been so successful because we have exhibited the ability to talk out load with each other, to engage in open discussion and not hesitate to ask critical questions. We have set and achieved lofty goals, and celebrated tremendous accomplishments. We have also rolled up our sleeves to work together when times have been tough to assure long term success.

Kevin Fitzgerald

Kevin Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald There are many factors in developing and maintaining any successful relationship and I would consider things like frequent and open communications, having an understood and shared vision, mutual respect, trust that demonstrates each other’s interests are being cared for and the ability to have fun! It never hurts to have good leadership, a great staff and a product (both the park and the partners) that people really appreciate.

APPL: What advice would you give to other public land agency colleagues with regard to the agency / nonprofit partner relationship?

Ditmanson: There has not been a day in my tenure as Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that I have not given thanks for the wonderful support provided by our key partnerships with the Great Smoky Mountains Association and the Friends of the Smokies. In other words, say thanks often! Other critical elements of success; stay true to your mission, share information, collaborate on priorities, and most of all be flexible and understanding.

Fitzgerald: Nothing earth shattering, just some common sense reminders that work in fostering any relationship, be it personal or professional. Really make an effort to get to know your partners, including their boards, staff and membership. Be honest about what you can and cannot do for each other, know where the line is and steer clear of it.  Be open to new ideas and have a clear understanding of the difference between law and policy.

APPL’s Agency Partner of the Year Award recognizes a public lands agency employee or employees who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in cultivating an atmosphere of partnership between their agency and the nonprofit organizations with which they are affiliated. Nominations for this award are accepted from APPL member organizations each fall and the recipient is chosen by our Government Relations Committee. Previous winners include Joe Meade, USDA Forest Service; Rich Weideman, National Park Service; and Timothy Wakefield, Bureau of Land Management.

Interview with APPL’s 2013 Outstanding Vendor Award Winner – Concept360

April 26, 2013

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The relationship between APPL members and the vendors with whom they work is symbiotic . Three quarters of our members are involved in interpretive retail and many others seek items for member premiums. They look for vendors who can supply products that have value to their visitors and are sensitive to the often specialized needs of public lands sites.

Our Members Services Coordinator, Nancy Kotz, recently spoke with Sam Dunham of Concept360, the recipient of our 2013 Outstanding Vendor Award, regarding their work with nonprofit public land partners. Concept360 develops personalized retail apparel programs. Learn more about their products and services at www.c360apparel.com. APPL’s members selected Concept360 for this honor for listening to associations and their agency partners as part of their strategy for delivering quality products with strong interpretive messages.

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APPL: What was your reaction upon learning that you had been selected for this award? 

Concept360: Our reaction to being selected for this award was humbled and thrilled! Concept360 has great customers and each one has added something special to our business.

APPL:  Do you think winning the award will enhance the perception of your company’s products / services?

Concept360: Winning the award is an honor. Concept360 has grown through the 25+ years by word of mouth and this means the most to us. This is the reason we stay focused on our track record with existing customers. We would like to thank all our customers.

APPL:  What are some of the factors that have contributed positively to Concept360’s relationship with its nonprofit public lands customers?

 LVN-2013-7849Concept360: Concept360 has taken the long term view that our customers are at a distinct place on how they build their sales and fulfill their mission. By being unique and using creative merchandise to connect people with their parks. These are some of the factors that have contributed to our positive relationships. It is not about any one item but about building programs and about adding value on multiple levels. It’s keeping focused on the end result.

APPL:  How has participation in the APPL convention helped contribute to your business relationships?

Concept360: The convention is a great time to connect with customers and celebrate successes and develop the next steps for the future. Partnerships make us all better. It is an ecosystem that makes everyone’s success more likely.

APPL: What advice would you give to other companies who provide products / services to nonprofit public land partners? 

ImageConcept360: Those of us fortunate enough to have grown up enjoying public lands and raising our kids on public lands need to find effective and creative ways to further the mission and create new revenue streams for the nonprofit partners. With the National Park Centennial around the corner those Associations that position themselves with the creative and unique businesses will stand out and I believe have tremendous success.

APPL’s Outstanding Vendor Award recognizes a company that has demonstrated exceptional achievement in working with APPL member organizations to enhance the quality of their retail services and the visitor experience at public land sites. Nominations are accepted each fall from among APPL’s members and the winner of the award is determined by the buyers. Impact Photographics received the first Outstanding Vendor award in 2011. HogEye, Inc was honored as the 2012 recipient.

Interview with APPL’s 2013 Excellence Award Winner – Manzanar History Association

April 22, 2013

Since 2005 APPL’s has bestowed our annual Excellence Award to a deserving publication, product or program selected from among the category winners of our Media and Partnership Awards. The award goes to a category winner that stands out for its quality, is accessible to a wide audience of public land visitors and exemplifies innovative partnerships.children's media winner jpeg

Our 2013 Excellence Award winner is Manzanar History Association (MHA) for their book, Children of Manzanar, edited by Heather Lindquist and published by Heyday Books. The book uses archival photographs and firsthand accounts to convey the experiences of some of the nearly 4,000 children and young adults held at Manzanar Internment Camp during World War II. Quotes from Manzanar’s children, most now in their eighties and nineties, are accompanied by photographs from both official and unofficial photographers, including Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Toyo Miyatake, himself an internee who for months secretly documented daily life inside the camp, and then openly for the remaining years Manzanar operated. The book took top honors in our Children’s Media category.

Our Member Service Coordinator, Nancy Kotz, recently had the opportunity to speak electronically with two of the key players in this project to learn more about the story behind the creation of this award winning publication.

The answers to these questions are combined from two sources:

  • Mary Daniel founded Manzanar History Association (MHA) in 2003 and shepherded the organization until 2007. She conceived the topic and shape of Children of Manzanar, secured grant funding, established the collaboration with Heyday Books, and got the project underway in 2005. After leaving MHA, she remained in touch with the project until the book’s publication.
  • Maggie Wittenburg succeeded Mary Daniel at MHA in 2007 and managed the book project thereafter.

APPL Executive Director, Donna Asbury (R) with Maggie Wittenberg (L) in the Manzanar store.

APPL: Why did you enter this project?

MHA: The purpose of MHA is to support the NPS in its mission of telling the stories of Japanese American internment during World War II.  For the choice of its first publication, it was felt that there was a gap to be filled in the existing material on the subject. There was no presentation of the unique experiences of the children whose lives were irrevocably shaped by their years behind barbed wire.

This is indeed our first publication, so the decision to enter the project for consideration was not derived from choosing among multiple candidates. We did, however, take into consideration the very high bar of quality set by previous finalists and winners of the APPL Media Awards. We really did feel that our book could compete with “the big boys” — the large APPL members with multiple books and other media projects.

APPL: What was your favorite part of this project?

MHA: Mary notes that in the early stages of research and spending time with the archival material, she was transported to the place and time she felt she needed to go to gain more understanding of what the experience meant for both adults and children. For her, this was hugely gratifying.

Through the long evolution of this book, it was constantly heartening to be part of such collaboration and teamwork.  And there was a huge degree of generosity that characterized the dedication of several individuals who gave of their unpaid time on top of the obligations of their lives and employment. Mary Daniel didn’t earn a cent for her involvement after she left MHA in early 2007. Our amazing editor, Heather Lindquist, contributed months of effort that went beyond the payment she contracted for within the modest grant we had, and all the while she had to keep up with her regular demanding job of exhibit design and creation. Alisa Lynch, the NPS Chief of Interpretation at Manzanar, also contributed a tremendous amount of time to the enterprise; and any time she devoted to the book meant that her days of NPS work were that much longer.

It was genuinely fun to continually discover material contained in recorded oral histories and photo archives.

Lastly, a favorite part was working with Heyday. Publisher Malcolm Margolin truly believed in the importance of the story we were presenting, and having the editorial and design resources of Heyday ready to apply their talents to bringing together our vision and research and writing felt like a genuine gift.

APPL: Do you think winning the award enhanced the perception of the work of your organization?LVN-2013-8175

MHA: Any time hard work is recognized not only feels darn good, but it has the potential of drawing attention to the subject, as well as the site the work supports.

We’re such a small association, and silly as it sounds, the award makes us feel much bigger! Or at least, capable of big things. We weren’t able to be present at the APPL awards banquet, but knowing our name was called in front of the all the attendees makes us feel that the quality of the work stood out in a field of high-quality entries, and we were put “on the map.”

Additionally, we’ve already received notice in the community and among the other outstanding publications on Heyday’s list. Other partners working with Manzanar National Historic Site have acknowledged our achievement. And we feel that the APPL recognition can only help us in seeking funding for future projects.

APPL: Are there things you would change or tweak now that you have had a chance to reflect on the project?

MHA: This project survived one very significant hurdle.  Had we known, we certainly would have avoided it.  Due to staffing transitions and a need to bring in outside expertise as the book was about to get underway, the writer of an earlier book about the subject of Japanese American internment was hired. Mary Daniel agreed to oversee this work pro bono. While the writer was accomplished and passionate about the topic, she was unable to accept the project’s scope as it was laid out. Through two years of the very frustrating challenge of trying to rein in her desire to turn the project into a political and social rant of sorts, it became clear that her involvement should be terminated.  It would have been wise to check with someone who had worked previously with this individual. We needed almost to start from scratch thereafter; with Maggie taking over the project management and Heather Lindquist bringing together Children of Manzanar as it was meant to be.

The take-away for us is to believe in the original vision, to know it’s a solid one, and to ensure that the integrity of communications and outside involvement are well aligned with the vision.

APPL: What advice would you give to other nonprofit public land partners considering a project of this type?

MHA: First and foremost, those who want to create such a book must believe in the value of project and know that anything is possible with the right people and planning.  Second, plan appropriately. Map out the project scope to include: defining and outlining that scope; seeking necessary approvals; identifying suitable partners; budgeting; and executing a timeline for completion. Then, determine funding sources and, if necessary, apply for grants. Lastly, try to learn from any challenges and persevere. Celebrate successes and acknowledge the hard work done by others.

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Links for Further Information:

Manzanar History Association – http://www.manzanarstore.com/

Children of Manzanar video book trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr7so5dl-BU&feature=player_embedded

Heyday Books – https://heydaybooks.com/

Reviews:

  • From Amazon.com

”[An] extraordinary collection of photographs and personal recollections”

–School Library Journal, starred review

”Thanks to the talent of photographers Toyo Miyatake, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, and others, these images convey more than words ever could the absurd supposition that children were also the ‘enemy’ simply because of their race. Seventy years later, I am still affected upon viewing photos of my family and childhood friends as we attempted to create a community within confines of barbed wire.”

–Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, former internee at Manzanar, and coauthor of Farewell to Manzanar

”Heartwarming as well as heartbreaking, this rich selection of photographs–many published for the first time–illuminates everyday life at Manzanar.”

–Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art

”For the children of Manzanar, the tarpapered barracks were home. Their resilience during the World War II period speaks profoundly to the power of youth, family, and community. Children of Manzanar is an important record of the lives of these young Americans–their farewells, adjustment, and sometimes even joy in a land of dust.”

–Naomi Hirahara, author of Summer of the Big Bachi and Snakeskin Shamisen

Children of Manzanar has captured the true life of the children. It has brought back many memories of good times as well as sad times.”

–Saburo Sasaki, former internee at Manzanar

”Far more than a mere memory book, Children of Manzanar presents readers with an exquisite blending of fresh images, original stories, and a stellar array of text panels that will deliver them to the very marrow of Manzanar’s diverse meanings for its unjustly confined population of young people.”

–Arthur A. Hansen, Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies, California State University, Fullerton

Children of Manzanar belongs in every library if one wishes to gain knowledge of the effect imprisonment had on thousands of Japanese American children. The reader should be prepared, when finished, to ask ‘WHY?!”’

–Dennis Tojo Bambauer, former internee at Manzanar

”I’ve read a lot of books on Manzanar, but this one opened my eyes to a whole different world. Children of Manzanar is a powerful and moving book.” –Alan Miyatake, grandson of photographer and former internee Toyo Miyatake

Recap of the 2013 APPL Partnership Convention & Trade Show

April 18, 2013

With its wealth of nearby public lands and environmentally friendly atmosphere, PImageortland, Oregon provided the perfect backdrop for APPL’s 2013 Partnership Convention and Trade Show.  Over 500 nonprofit public land professionals, exhibitors, and speakers gathered in the “City of Bridges” for three days of shared learning, networking, and purchasing. The theme of the convention was “Crossing Bridges, Blazing Trails.”  Programming focused on overcoming challenges in the public lands community with an eye on sustainability. Keynote speakers, roundtable discussions, educational sessions, agency partnership forums, networking events, and a trade show provided participants with opportunities to build their networks, skills, and knowledge. The APPL Partnership Convention & Trade Show was proudly supported by more than 20 companies and member organizations.

Each day, the convention began with a general session highlighted by insightful and enriching keynote speeches. On Monday, business consultant and author Devora Zack kicked off the convention with a fun, high-energy keynote, which enabled attendees to determine interactively whether they were “thinkers” or “feelers” with regard to leadership and work styles. PGAV Destinations CEO Mike Konzen started Tuesday with a stimulating keynote about relevant visitation trends and data regarding the types of vacation experiences sought by differing segments of our society (i.e., families, millennials, etc.). Following the keynote, Konzen solicited questions from the audience that will inform a study relevant to public lands. On Wednesday, Marcelo Bonta, Executive Director of the Center for Diversity and the Environment, gave an impassioned speech about the necessity to appeal to growing demographic segments of the American landscape in the name of inclusivity and sustainability.

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From L to R: Devora Zack, Mike Konzen, Marcelo Bonta

Agency partnership forums were held throughout the week for the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Forest Service.  Although agency attendance was down due to sequestration, these forums were used as an opportunity to facilitate discussions with convention participants related to agency-specific partnership issues. Report outs from each of the forums have been shared with agency leadership.ImageMore than 40 educational sessions were offered during the three days, allowing participants to focus on a specialized theme or sample a variety of topics. Sessions were organized into five tracks that focused on Partnerships, Leadership and GovernanceFundraising and Membership, Educational Programming, and Sales and Engagement.  Popular sessions included Youth Powered Think Tanks: Exploring Innovative Technology Uses, Building a Fundraising Board, Federal Lands and the New Congress, and Artful Employee Performance Feedback.   Many speakers shared their session materials with APPL as a resource for participants to access after the convention.

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Fifteen energetic and enthusiastic young leaders represented the Bridge to Tomorrow (B2T) Class of 2013 during the convention, enabling them to develop their professional network and learn more about public land partnerships. This diverse group of young professionals from across the country enjoyed a team building hike in Washington Park, actively participated in sharing their perspectives and ideas with convention participants, volunteered as session monitors and greeters throughout the week, and worked together to present a session on mentoring and engaging young people in the public lands arena.

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2013 B2T Class with staff liaison Alex Vidal and APPL Executive Director Donna Asbury

The two-day APPL Trade Show included more than 130 companies and lived up to its reputation as the best one-stop shopping LVN-2013-7780opportunity for nonprofit educational retailers and public land partners. The show featured educational and theme-related merchandise, retail management products, and services focused on the public lands community. Attendees used their time at the trade show to meet with exhibitors, place orders, and review new products and services that could help advance their operations and missions to enhance visitor understanding and appreciation of America’s public lands. The 2013 APPL Trade Show directory is available for everyone to use as a resource throughout the year.

Retiring APPL Executive Director, Donna Asbury, was recognized at the convention for her 12 and a half years of exemplary service and leadership to the organization with the Presidents’ Award from all five board presidents with whom she served. A special video tribute captured photos from Donna’s time with APPL and she was presented with a memory book of postcard notes from the APPL community.

The convention concluded with a Hollywood-Chic themed closing banquet, celebrating the announcement of the 2013 APPL LVN-2013-8223Awards. Awards were presented in 12 categories honoring achievements in publishing, product development, and programming by nonprofit public land partner organizations. Manzanar History Association’s Children of Manzanar was honored as the 2013 APPL Excellence Award winner. APPL was also pleased to present Sam Dunham and his company, Concept 360, with APPL’s 2013 Outstanding Vendor Award.  Dale Ditmanson, Superintendent and Kevin Fitzgerald, former Deputy Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park were honored as APPL’s 2013 Agency Partners of the Year.

For all of the convention pictures click here.

PDX Through The Eyes Of A Local

January 4, 2013

Portland, Oregon, the host city of the 2013 APPL Convention and Trade Show, has an intriguing culture that caters to all walks of life.  When visiting a city it’s not so much the physical aspects and sights that make it unique, it’s the local culture and feel; so for this, we interviewed Portland local and aspiring chef, Kam Tembo.Image

What’s the main reason you moved to Portland?

I moved to Portland for the food scene, there are more bakeries and restaurants than any other city I have lived in before. My girlfriend and I like to try to find two to three new restaurants every week, the main food I’ve been on a kick on recently is Pho. It’s a Vietnamese noodle soup that’s inexpensive and there’s basically one on every corner. I believe that’s a perfect analogy for Portland itself, there are thousands of them scattered throughout the city and they’re all different, and that’s what it’s all about, finding YOURS, finding your own niche.

Tell me a bit about the nightlife?

The nightlife offers a wide variety of local venues; recently I’ve been going to this place called the Crystal Ballroom, which is a really awesome music venue.  Just like the Pho analogy, there are so many venues and you have to just find yours.  I would recommend searching the little underground music magazines, The Mercury or the Willamette weekly.  Read through them and you’ll find listings of all the hot new places here in Portland.  Also, you can’t forget about the food carts.

Oh yeah! Talk a little bit about the food carts…

The food carts are intense.  There are areas with different variations of food carts all put together and they’re called pods. One of my favorites carts, as of late, is a Cuban food cart called El Cubo de Cuba (10th and Alder Pod). Their sandwiches are some of the best I’ve had in a long time. I was wandering around and saw the picture of this sandwich, “The Cuban,” it looked interesting, so I got it, and the flavor profile was so unique it was like nothing I’ve had before. Anything you can think of food wise, the food cart pods have it and they’re all on a pretty good price scale.Image

Can you  briefly discuss the forward thinking mentality of Portland?

It’s the most progressive place I’ve ever been to and I got to know more about it through the restaurant side of things.  They try and make everything with sustainable and organic ingredients and they maximize the use of everything, which is completely different from my previous restaurant experiences before moving out here. The restaurants also have a connection with the local community.  A lot of farmers work with these restaurants and personally work with the chefs.  It totally cuts out the middleman and the commercial stuff and allows the restaurants to get the ingredients straight from the farms.

Another thing that impressed me when moving here was the waste management.  They have really good programs that take your trash, recycling AND compost! I just read in a newsletter that by 2015 they are planning on raising the recycling rate to 75%. Everyone here “thinks green,” it’s not something you have to argue.  People really take it to heart and incorporate these ideals into their businesses as well.ImageCan you briefly discuss the city itself?

It seems that when planning and building the city they tried to incorporate more parks, so it’s not just like an urban sprawl, you know? Every neighborhood has a park that seems to be the center and the neighborhood just revolves around it. They tried not to eliminate the forests; they tried to build around them, not to mention what surrounds the city itself. The Willamette Falls, The Multnomah Falls, Mt. Hood, it’s all right here; the North West is one of the most beautiful places in America. Anyone who has been here knows what I’m talking about, there’s no way to describe it; you just have to see it for yourself.

If you had to describe the culture of Portland in two sentences to someone who has never been there, what would you say to them?

“I don’t need two sentences, I can explain it in two words, Be Yourself. I know the saying here is Keep Portland Weird but it’s not as much you’re going out of your way to be weird, just be yourself, and don’t be worried about people saying wear this or wear that. As long as you’re being real and being true to yourself you’ll fit in to Portland just fine.”

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