Did you know you can hand-pollinate plants with a paintbrush? Did you know that you can read e-books and support a neighborhood book store at the same time? True facts! These are things I learned when writing two new pieces for NeighborhoodNotes.com, my favorite hyper-local news site.
As of this morning, you can read this piece about small, independent booksellers who are testing the waters as online merchants and e-booksellers. I had a great time getting to know the owners of Portland’s Broadway Books, St. Johns Booksellers and Microcosm Publishing while diving into the economic and even political issues that have arisen with changes in the publishing industry. My research for this piece harkened back to the Brave New World session on publishing that I attended last year at Wordstock. Honestly, I don’t think the option of indie book stores selling e-books came up at that panel less than a year ago, so I hope this is a sign of new positive options for the industry.
For all you gardeners and locavores, check out this piece on seed saving. I’ve always wondered why anyone would do such a thing when seed packets are so cheap at big-box stores, but it turns out that seed saving can contribute mightily to the biodiversity of a region, or even a neighborhood. And if you’re looking for new ways to dig in to gardening, this story includes advice and workshop dates from experts at Portland’s Independence Gardens, Handmade Gardens, Portland Nursery and Herb’n Wisdom.
Each of these pieces was featured on The Oregonian‘s website, thanks to Neighborhood Notes’ partnership with the Oregonian News Network. The ONN (not to be confused with the Onion News Network) is a hyper-local news stream from several Portland news outlets and blogs, and it’s a good model of the collaboration and web-based innovation that’s helping journalism move forward.
Posted in journalism
Tagged broadway books, e-books, ebooks, gardening, handmade gardens, heirloom, herb'n wisdom, independence gardens, irvington, joe biel, media, microcosm publishing, neighborhood notes, nena rawdah, non-fiction, organic, pdx, plants, portland, portland nursery, publish, publishing, sally mcpherson, seed saving, st johns booksellers, summer, vegetables, writing
If the last few months are any indication, Portland might be getting a brand-new bird-themed business every 30 days. Aviary opened last month, Little Bird (cousin of Le Pigeon) opened in December, and Branch and Birdie home decor opened in November. All that is great with me. But it proves that “Portlandia” is right about this city and our obsession with putting birds on things. And you know what? I really like bird graphics and I can’t get over it.
All birds aside, my friends at NeighborhoodNotes.com got word of 12 businesses opening in Portland in January. There are plentiful new dining options, including Guild Public House, Sizzle Pie, Girasole Pizza Co. and Panera Cares Community Cafe (a pay-what-you-want shop!). There are also new options for locally made vodka, custom guitars, bicycles and spa pampering.
Here’s a bit of the story…
Listen, Portland people. I don’t ever want to hear any of you complaining about not having anything to eat (accessibility issues aside, natch). Because this city cranks out piles of fanciful food options. Every. Single. Month. That is pretty remarkable. This month your new options include craft vodka, double-decker and vegan pizzas, locally-sourced menus, and, as always, meals and atmosphere with Euro-influence. Not to mention new options for bad-ass bicycles, guitars and spa treatments. Now go forth and live it up!
Click here to read the rest of the story!
Posted in journalism
Tagged aviary, be smooth, bicycle, bike, bird, branch and birdie, bull run distilling, classroom publishing, east side deli, Girasole Pizza, Guild Public House, little bird, liz lemon, lloyd center, neighborhood notes, new business, non-fiction, organic, Panera Cares Community Cafe, pdx, portland, portlandia, pro guitar shop, qdoba, Sizzle Pie, west end bikes
Great news! One of my stories has been selected for publication in Our Portland Story, Vol. 2, which is set for publication in the summer of 2012.
It’s still early in the process, so I’m not sure which story they will include from my two submissions, but I know it will be one of my favorites — either “For an Anxious Cowdog” or “No One Will Believe Me. Oh Well.“
Our Portland Story is published every other year, and is described as “part yearbook, part insider’s travel guide, and part collected memoirs [...] all about Portland by Portlanders.” Volume 1 is available at numerous Portland book stores, and was released in the Fall of 2010. My friends at NeighborhoodNotes.com listed it in its “Nine Must-Reads for Locals, Visitors and ‘Portland-Curious‘” in December.
What I especially love about the publication is that it emphasizes creative design as much as creative writing. Each story is assigned to a designer who will create an unique color layout for it. The stories aren’t always printed in columns, but in forms that match the sentiment of the story and its accompanying design.The results are unique and gorgeous, as you can see on Our Portland Story’s splash page. (Under ‘Featured Stories,’ you can choose ‘design view’ or ‘story view.’)
I will post updates on the project as it moves along, but for now, I am thrilled to know that a publication like this even exists, and I feel honored to be part of it.
Here is a link to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s interview with one of the book’s creator’s Melissa Delzio.
And here’s a video that wonderfully captures what Our Portland Story is all about:
I just published a story at NeighborhoodNotes.com about people in Portland who fix up old trailers and buses and turn them into vintage and resale clothing boutiques. Can we say “most-super-fun-story-subject-in-forever”?
(Full disclosure: I have been a vintage clothing collector since coming of age in the thrift store-laden 1990s. Here’s a photo of me the 1920s dress I bought with one of my first-ever paychecks.)
Thanks to Lodekka, Wanderlust, Showvroom, Heather Zinger and NeighborhoodNotes.com for their collaboration on this piece. Now go read it and check out the photos!
Posted in journalism
Tagged beauty, cecilia doan, erin sutherland, imagination, lodekka, neighborhood notes, new business, non-fiction, on the street, pdx, portland, publishing, showvroom, storytelling, vanessa lurie, wanderlust, writing
Interstate Lanes in North Portland (not new, but plenty of good fun)
“Despite a slow economy, holiday distractions and plain old cold, we got word of entrepreneurs opening 15 new Portland businesses in December. So if you’re looking for new ways to enrich la vida local in 2011, you now have the option to try the sister bistro of Le Pigeon, two expansive indoor play spaces, and a gardening shop that sells taxidermied animals in costume. (Watch for the general Francophile theme this month—it’s pretty lovely.) Here’s to our community’s small business owners and new things in the new year!”
Check out the list and the rest of the story at NeighborhoodNotes.com!
Right now I’m in conversation with teachers about turning their fourth-grade students into members of an elementary school newspaper staff. The 9- and 10-year-olds would be responsible for interviewing each other, writing stories, editing each other’s work and establishing the design concepts for a quarterly publication. There’s a method to this madness, I promise.
Classroom publishing was the theme for this fall’s Wordstock for Teachers conference in Portland, and I was fortunate to assist with a workshop conducted by the Classroom Publishing team from Ooligan Press at Portland State University. The key concept from this workshop was that there are lessons all through the publishing process that translate to multiple content areas and skill sets. Here is a breakdown of the Ooligan workshop:
- Before you do anything, identify your publishing intent and audience. This will help get students invested in the project and help your team shape its style, voice and format.
- “The content and the form of expressing it need to match.”
- Students can evaluate potential content for their publications by using criteria that they have established themselves. In turn, they learn to look at their own work more objectively.
- The process of acquisitions helps students understand how literary anthologies and textbooks are put together, and makes assignments involving bibliographies, quotes and citations much more relevant to students.
- It’s easy to get stuck at this stage if you don’t have a clear plan.
- Emphasize to students early on that revising is a necessity in the writing process, not a punishment. Remind them that their work is worth revising.
- Developmental editing is the first round, and involves looking at the foundations of each piece and the way it is constructed.
- Copy-editing is what we usually think of when we hear the word “editing.” It involves checking for grammar and spelling.
- Make time for fact-checking.
- Proofreading comes after a piece is laid out on a page or website, prior to final publication.
- The style and execution of your design will depend on who is creating your publication and who it is for. A publication that is made for students and by students will likely have a different design than one made by students for parents or by students for the community.
- Design can go way beyond the printed page! Consider a website, a blog, a podcast, a web video, etc.
- Web-based classroom publishing projects are a way for students to build a positive presence on the internet. A college scholarship committee will likely take note of a student with a web-based publishing project more than a student with a public Myspace page, etc.
- Let design serve as a visual metaphor for your entire publishing project.
- This can come in many forms (paper, internet, digital presentation on a CD, etc.). When choosing a production method, consider your audience, intent and, most of all, your project budget.
- Here is a great list of publishing and production resources from Wordstock for Teachers.
- Contact local businesses and community groups to see if in-kind donations or financial assistance is possible for your production efforts.
- Marketing is often a dirty word to artists and educators, but a book that doesn’t get marketed doesn’t get read!
- Marketing is more about connecting your audience with your project than it is about making money. But if you want to use a publishing project to raise money for another educational effort, it can’t hurt.
- Ideas for marketing efforts include having students to read from their publication over the school intercom, having students design posters and bookmarks for the project, hosting readings and open mic events, hosting book fairs, and connecting with groups online that are conducting similar projects. Relationships can begin with something as simple as students students from different schools commenting on each other’s blogs.
- Marketing is a great way to practice important writing skills such as persuasion, summarizing and identifying a target audience, and it requires clarity and conciseness.
- Your project should have a hook and pitch. A hook is a short, attention-grabbing phrase (such as “Take student work beyond the classroom”) and a pitch is similar to an elevator speech — about 40 words that clearly describe your project.
Is classroom publishing really worth all the effort? As a writer who is about to make classroom publishing into a career as a Journalism and Language Arts teacher, I am inclined to answer with a resounding YES. Sure, I’m biased. But I’m biased because of the pride I felt in third grade when my teacher laminated the drawings I made to summarize The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’m biased because of the pride I felt when my sixth-grade teacher stopped the entire class to read my poem aloud (reading aloud is a form of publishing, too, because it brings work to an audience). I am biased because working on my high school newspaper staff taught me a variety of skills that have had direct applications to my paying work in public relations, nonprofit administration, journalism, and even parking permit services (that one’s a long story).
To learn everything you ever wanted to know about turning your students into publishers, visit Ooligan’s Classroom Publishing site and get a copy of their practical guide for teachers.
Posted in education, publishing
Tagged children, classroom publishing, design, high school, imagination, kids, ooligan, ooligan press, pdx, portland, teens, wordstock, writing
I still have a few crayoned, laminated, hand-bound books that I wrote in elementary school. In many ways, the drawing and writing I did in those books was no better than the work that made it onto my mom’s fridge, or the work that cluttered my bedroom and was thrown away. But the fact that they were published means that pieces of my childhood were preserved, and that I felt a sense of legitimacy in my work, even as I was still practicing D’Nealian handwriting. Even if no one read the books, the sense of accomplishment they brought was similar to what I feel today when publishing a well-read news article or blog post, or even when I see that I’ve been “retweeted” by a stranger on Twitter.
As I mentioned in an earlier post about the future of the publishing industry, self-publishing is no longer considered a last resort for serious writers, but is becoming an increasingly legit way to share your work. This shift in thinking opens the doors for teachers and students to use new classroom publishing platforms and tools, and to share their work with increasingly wide audiences. All publishing industry issues aside, when I think of the way technology impacts publishing from a teacher’s perspective, fireworks go off. The possibilities for quality work are endless.
Classroom publishing was the theme for this fall’s Wordstock for Teachers conference in Portland, and I was fortunate to assist with a workshop conducted by the Classroom Publishing team from Ooligan Press at Portland State University. The event’s keynote speaker was Erick Gordon, formerly of the Student Press Initiative at Columbia University. Below are notes from his motivating presentation:
- Publication is no longer for elite students only, but also for students who are at risk.
- Publication raises the bar for all students involved in a project.
- Explore the idea of publishing as pedagogy. Allow it to expand your ideas of what kids can accomplish.
- Get linked up with teachers who are involved in publishing with the Student Press Initiative’s Ning.
- “This work can set you up to really know who kids are.”
If you’re interested in the Student Press Initiative, check out the organization’s website for classroom resources and inspiring project videos.
Stay tuned, because highlights from the Ooligan Press workshop on Classroom Publishing are in the fryer.
Posted in education, publishing
Tagged children, classroom publishing, erick gordon, high school, imagination, kids, ooligan, ooligan press, pdx, portland, spi, storytelling, student press initiative, teens, wordstock, writing
My recent introduction to eBooks reminded me of a panel I attended at this fall’s Wordstock festival in Portland called Brave New World: The Future of Publishing. Industry experts and authors Lauren Kessler, Rhonda Hughes, and Kevin Smokler made up the panel, and discussion was facilitated by Richard Meeker, publisher of Portland’s Willamette Week.
I found the discussion to be pretty optimistic. Sure, things are changing dramatically for the publishing industry, especially when it comes to making money. But the panelists were optimistic because they tended to see technology tools as powers that could be harnessed for the benefit of authors, publishers and readers alike. I was especially interested in Smokler’s work as founder of BookTour.com, a tech start-up that provides marketing tools for authors.
Here are some highlights from the panel in October, which were originally typed on my smart phone. Just sayin’…
On blogging and texting
• The blogosphere means writers are giving away words for free in hopes of connecting with more people.
• Limit blog posts to about 300 words. (I am afraid I’m breaking this rule right now.)
• Blogs such as The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post are now leaders in book reviews
• Lauren Kessler notes that her daughter is constantly thinking in words and is writing more than Kessler did as a teenager because of texting. You read that right.
On self-publishing and self-marketing
• Big publishers have been giving less and less to writers so some authors now choose to go with self publishing or boutique publishing. Self publishing is no longer seen as a last resort.
• Today reputation matters more than in the past. Publishers want to see that you have a history of professional writing and meeting deadlines and a solid portfolio.
• Today writers often have to be their own publicists. Technology helps facilitate this.
• Even with all of the technology tools and promotional methods at our disposal, promoting yourself still has to do with building relationships and being nice. Panelists suggest starting those relationships on Twitter. (Sidenote: Twitter is how I first made contact with Lauren Kessler, and that contact was the reason I attended this panel in the first place.)
On eBooks and the industry
• Technology means larger audiences, and eBooks can mean more money from new audiences.
• eBooks and self publishers will likely mean there is a greater range in the quality of what we read.
• Technology makes it easier to promote publishing events and to do direct sales online.
• Taking a tip from the movie industry, publishers and authors are now making book trailers.
• Digital book scans provide useful counts of sales and inventory.
• Technology doesn’t have an either-or relationship with older media. They work together. As an example, vinyl record sales are growing faster sales of than digital music. Smokler predicts that someday paper books will be seen like records are seen today: hard to find, pricey, high quality.
• eReaders such as Kindle and Nook are likely to become more and more accessible and affordable as time goes on, hopefully helping close some of the digital divide. There is more money to be made selling things cheaply to more people than in keeping things elitist.
For every pro I have listed here, there are still concerns about the way our culture is changing. A shift in the medium for something as ubiquitous as books is pretty major. What do you see as the potential losses that might come with these gains? How will these changes change us as readers? Or are you, like me, just stuck on the idea of carrying your book around in your pocket?
Posted in publishing
Tagged booktour.com, ebook, ereader, getting old, imagination, kevin smokler, kindle, lauren kessler, nook, pdx, portland, publishing, rhonda hughes, richard meeker, self-marketing, self-publishing, the long tail, wordstock, writing
Forgive the attempt at gangster language, but Southeast Portland is blowin’ up, yo! That quadrant of our fair city is home to four of the 17 new businesses we got word of in the last month—with even more indie biz goodness in the works. It boasts a board game shop, a gallery and artists’ hub, and a drool-worthy Italian deli, while the rest of town now offers more art and craft fun, a donation-based yoga studio and a vintage store housed in a camper. Did I mention last month that I love living here? Because I love it even more now.
It’s that time again. Time to take stock of some Portland entrepreneurs who are striking out and hoping to make a living and make a contribution to this city. My new business piece was published by the good folks at NeighborhoodNotes.com today and you can read it right here. Oh yeah.
PS: This photo is from the interior of Beulahland on SE 28th around 1 a.m. after a good round of true Japanese-style karaoke at VoiceBox.
Posted in journalism
Tagged beauty, blowout, branch and birdie, children, cloudcap, cordani, design, halo shoes, hophaven, housefarm, indow windows, irvington, kids, Knack: Modern Art and Craft, mag-big, misto cafe, neighborhood notes, new business, non-fiction, on the street, organic, pdx, pearl district, portland, portland artists, portland food, publishing, saratoga, st johns storage, tartberry, wanderlust, writing, yoga on yamhill
“Want to float in a tank of salt water in a locally made, retro bathing suit? Want to be part of Portland’s Hamburger Mary’s revival? Want to drink dozens of ciders, watch sports in fun pubs and park your bike on top of a specialty grocery store? As of this fall, you can do all that and more in Portland. Within the last month we got word of nearly 20 places that opened up shop in Portland, and we know these are just part of the picture in this bustling city that never tires of finding ways to entertain, renovate, intoxicate, and stuff the belly.”
Writing about Portland’s new businesses for NeighborhoodNotes.com is a huge treat for me. You know why? I get to find out about all the new ways to fill my weekends. And then I get to tell everyone about them. And then (hopefully) awesome small business owners get new customers, and everyone has an awesome time. Awesome!
I promise my vocabulary is better than this post indicates. Read the rest of the article at NeighborhoodNotes.com.
Posted in journalism
Tagged 442 sports bar, autumn, barber q, beauty, bicycle, bike, bushwhacker, cafe au play, children, cider, circa 33, cruzroom, designer, dining, float on, friendly bike guest house, hamburger mary, hawthorne hophouse, hostel, irvington, nectar frozen yogurt lounge, neighborhood notes, new business, new seasons market hawthorne, new vintage beauty lounge, non-fiction, now open, on the street, pdx, popina, portland, restaurant, Shigezo Izakaya, soi 9, spirit of 77, spirits, sports bar, swimwear, thai, writing