We’re celebrating five years of Sustainable Building Week and to help mark the occasion we’re launching Five Things: a series of interviews that connects our five years to you, Portland’s sustainability community. In the coming weeks, follow along as we share answers to five questions we’re posing to some of the biggest movers and shakers in our city, who are working to keep Portland green.
Describe your day job at Sustainable Northwest Wood and what you do.
I am the Marketing Manager at Sustainable Northwest Wood. I spend my days spreading the word about our local, responsibly sourced good wood. I get to tell the stories about the small mills and hard-working people in rural Oregon who supply our forest products, share the amazing projects our customers create, and help our community build with purpose. It’s the best job ever.
Describe your involvement with Sustainable Building Week
My colleague Terry Campbell is one of the co-founders of Sustainable Building Week and we’ve been involved from the very beginning. This year, we are hosting two sessions.
The first is a screening of the documentary film ELEMENTAL, which is about reimagining our relationship with wildfire and takes viewers on a journey with the top experts in the nation to better understand fire. We hope attendees will take away an understanding of how to make their homes and communities more resilient and learn better ways of living with future fires rather than simply “fighting” them.
Our other event is part of Women in Sustainable Endeavors (WISE), a group I started this year in Portland to connect, inspire and empower women and female-identifying individuals across the diverse fields of sustainability. We will open to the larger audience of Sustainable Building Week to share our stories, successes, and challenges, and make new friends in the industry over lunch. I hope attendees find a sense of belonging, connection, and a network of resources for their own endeavors.
What does “sustainable” mean to you?
For me, sustainability is the ability to utilize, protect and preserve resources in such a way as to fill the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations. It includes environmental, economic, and social responsibility. You cannot be sustainable without considering each of these elements or by leaving anyone behind.
What inroads has Portland made and what still needs to be done to “keep Portland green?”
Portland has long been a national leader in the sustainability movement, with a plethora of parks and bike paths, innovative solutions for low-impact living, renewable energy, and green buildings. Today we find ourselves in a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions and I think the dire situation of our growing houseless community is at the top of the list of what needs to be addressed in a more effective way. It will take more than “affordable” housing or futile “sweeps” that don’t address the deeper-rooted causes of mental illness and drug addiction. This is the social responsibility pillar of sustainability that cannot be ignored. It is impossibly complex, but we are a resilient, determined city, filled with brilliant minds and I am ever hopeful that one day, every person will be able to live in dignity with a roof over their head.
Name a Portland (or Oregon) project or collaboration that has inspired you and tell us why you are inspired by it.
Currently, I am most inspired by the new main terminal project at Portland International Airport. The Port asked that all the materials be sourced locally and sustainably. We are proud to play a huge role in connecting local forests and landowners, including Indigenous Tribes and small family owned forests, to this historic project. We have supplied over 600,000 board feet of local, responsibly sourced Douglas Fir lumber, with 98% traceable to the local forests it came from. The new terminal is due to open in 2024. Check it out.
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