Stories / Art

The Quiet Held the Crocuses (Winner: 2012-13 Doug Fir Fiction Award)

Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by David M. Armstrong  |  illustrations by Jeff Versoi

Illustration by Jeff Versoi

She emerged from the car and rounded the old house to look across the yard, the ground rampant with weeds. Beyond it a swath of brilliant green cut a kind of fairy path through the woods, and near the trailhead lay an ancient plow and a skeletal tractor, their paint faded to a sun-sapped rose that still clung to the iron of the wheel wells. Patrick made a sound from inside the house as if trying to draw her attention. He’d been moody most of the afternoon, flipping unwanted french fries out of the car as they drove, until he’d eaten so little he begged her to stop again, then got picky with a chicken sandwich and fell asleep. In Patrick’s defense, the trip had been unexpected. She hadn’t intended to take him from Dale’s driveway. That much had just happened. But in her own defense, her actions were planless as osmosis, a current of biological imperatives sliding beneath her and buoying her weight: a mother needs her son.

She turned back to the house. Most of the windows had been broken.

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NYC to PDX: An Interview with David Bragdon

New York City and Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by Tom Webb


Most Portlanders remember David Bragdon as the president of Metro, Portland’s regional government, from 2003 to 2010. New Yorkers, on the other hand, recall their native son as Mayor Bloomberg’s choice in 2010 to serve as director of long-term planning and sustainability for New York City. Indeed, Bragdon has had his feet planted firmly in both the Big Apple and the Rose City. He once drove a cab in Portland, before working in shipping for Nike and as marketing manager for the Port of Portland. Today, he bike shares his way across Manhattan and is the new executive director for Transit Center Inc., a nonprofit promoting the use of public transit. Prior to Transit Center Inc., Bragdon was involved in the revitalization of Jamaica Bay, a 10,000-acre parkland running from Queens to Brooklyn.

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Update: Lead Pencil Studio to Bring New Work to Doug Fir Lounge (June 16)

update by Mimi Price

Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo—the Seattle-based artist/architect operating as Lead Pencil Studio—certainly have Portland’s attention. Last year they transformed the eastside Portland skyline with their steel structures Inversion: Plus Minus, erected at the eastern ends of the Hawthorne and Morrison Bridges. The sculptures, often referred to as “ghost-like,” employ negative space to recollect Portland’s urban past. Built in the open rather than inside gallery walls, Inversion: Plus Minus provoked a variety of reactions, and left the city buzzing.

In a conversation with KATU.com producer and reporter Shannon L. Cheesman, Annie Han notes that, “it would be strange to make something and either everybody dislikes it or everybody loves it. It comes with the territory—especially when you are putting your work in a public space.”

This June, Han and Mihalyo will undoubtedly continue to elicit responses as they prompt Portlanders to yet again rethink the city with a multimedia performance at the Doug Fir Lounge. Their latest project, Dark Corners/ High F/ Mannequins / Ugly / Downer Boxes, “present[s] a series of parallel theories using noise, words, images, objects and actions to describe an alternate reading of the city” and will continue Lead Pencil’s tradition of captivating the eyes, ears and minds of Portlanders. They promise to “variously address the joys of upending distinctions between architecture, art, landscape, culture and history.”

The free event will be held on Monday, June 16 at 7:00 pm at the Doug Fir Lounge and is open to ages 21 and over. Further details may be found here.

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Beyond the Matrix: 2×2 Planning Falls Short

Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by Howard Silverman

2x2 matrixA frequently cited principle of forecasting is to look back twice as far as one looks forward. Today follows yesterday, and tomorrow today. As anyone working on innovation and change knows all too well, engagements with the future cannot avoid encounters with the past.

Let’s take a look at past and future through the lens of that iconic and ubiquitous foresight tool: the 2×2 scenario-planning matrix. The 2×2 was famously used at Royal Dutch Shell in the 1970s as one approach for speculating on a changing oil industry environment, and again in South Africa at the 1991-92 Mont Fleur gatherings as part of a process to enable trust-building among diverse community and national leaders. After these experiments, its use was propagated by the consulting firm Global Business Network. These days, the 2×2 is featured in popular innovation toolkits such as Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers and 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.

The standard 2×2 scenario process goes like this. Read more »