Archive | Community Spotlight

A Japanese Healing Garden Offers Resilience To Men In Custody: The Power Of The Human Spirit To Transform – 3 parts below

Posted on 29 April 2019 by Douglas Merrow

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Community Close-up Q & A session with Aesthetic Dentistry

Posted on 09 February 2016 by Jason

Aesthetic Dentistry

Welcome to our Community Close-up Q&A session with Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego. We are excited for this opportunity to allow you to get more personally acquainted with their practice.
What makes a dental practice holistic?

At Aesthetic Dentistry of Lake Oswego, we pride ourselves on our approach to dentistry that promotes health and wellness through proper nutrition and the use of biocompatible materials. Biocompatibility and Holistic Dentistry means patients are treated with materials that won’t adversely react with their body chemistry. There are hundreds of dental materials out there and not all of them are good for everyone.We strive to provide our guests with comprehensive dental excellence in a friendly, relaxed caring atmosphere so that optimal health, beauty, comfort and satisfaction can be realized by all of our valued patients, both old and new. We apply the safest applications of holistic and cosmetic dental care—from safe mercury removal and CEREC restorations to invisalign, implants, and veneers.

What should a person look for when finding a dentist?
It is very important that a patient look for an office that makes them feel comfortable—a place where they want to go, not have to go. From initially making the appointment, to the waiting room experience to the interaction with and treatment from our conscientious and caring staff, we put a premium on making every effort to create a comfortable experience at Aesthetic Dentistry.

What are some of the latest dental health techniques you apply in your practice?
Keeping up with the latest technology allows us to provide the best standards of dental care. We provide 3D imaging, offering patients a much better clinical experience, assuring a higher level of treatment success. We also offer metal-free implants which are ideal for patients that prefer a non-metal option.

What is the most important thing in establishing the best relationship with your patients?
At Aesthetic Dentistry, we believe that actively listening to our patients’ needs and concerns is paramount to excellent dental care. Whether handling a dental emergency or working with a longtime client to address sleep apnea or TMJ disfunction, we customize our care and treatment plans, recognizing that each has individual needs. And we always stand by our commitment that the finest quality will always be provided.

For more information on Aesthetic Dentistry, call 503-675-7300 or visit

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Living in the Now, Key to Agelessness for Nehalem Artist and Framer by Dana Taylor

Posted on 05 September 2015 by Jason

Since the days of Ponce de Leon and before, people have been seeking the fountain of youth as if it offers the same quality of life provided by its close cousin, agelessness. Nestled in the picturesque hills of Nehalem, Oregon, Bonnie Speer, proprietress of Art Happens, a local’s favorite art framing boutique, proves that agelessness is alive and well on the Oregon coast and has very little to do with one’s age whatsoever.

With a face framed with gossamer filaments of hair that seem to shift with every whisper of the wind, Speer recounted a life filled with joy and pain, blessings and lessons, and a deep appreciation for the timelessness of now, which informs her understanding of agelessness as she models it for others today.

Speer’s first real experience-turned-lifestyle with agelessness came to her in a time of life transition. “A friend of mine invited me to go sailing on her boat when I was going through a lot of stress, raising my three kids by myself in Houston. She said, ‘You’re going to have to leave all your baggage on the shore and just concentrate on sailing—otherwise, we’ll be wet.’”
That was more than 25 years ago.

Not too long after that life-changing sailing trip, Speer attended a weekend workshop called Beyond the Power of Positive Thinking in Dallas, Texas, while her former mother-in-law kept her children for the weekend, where she learned that even the smallest impressions have an impact on one’s subconscious and therefore mood. She credits that workshop with having a profound influence that made her more aware of that to which she chose to lend her attention, and how shifting things that add to positivity to her life was one of the most important moving parts to crafting and cultivating a lifestyle that results in agelessness.

“It made an impression on me; I went home and took down all of the photographs of my former husband who was already with another wife. Because every time I walked into that bedroom and looked at those photos on the walls, I got sad, even if only subconsciously. That was adding to my stress because that part of my life was over.”

She then began paying acute attention to everything she added to or subtracted from her life and the attendant results on her overall happiness until she had curated a set of life circumstances that kept her far happier than they did depressed. “And then I left the world of banking and finance and became a framer. I had no idea how happy it would make me.”

Skip ahead 15 years to when, at the suggestion of friend Lori Dillon, Speer took a formal art lesson on the Oregon coast and began communicating with her inner artist. She was pleased to learn after all those years of framing that she had a natural ability to create art, not just frame it, even though she was encouraged by her parents to become an intellectual while growing up in the artist colony of Laguna Beach, California.

“That sailing trip started my life-long lesson in living in the now. That’s one thing that’s also true of framing—if you’re not in the now, you’re going to hurt yourself. And the lovely thing about art and framing is that you have to be in the now, you can’t be anywhere else.”

Besides framing and creating her own art, Speer also attributes her sense of agelessness to her current hometown, a place she describes as “just paradise—I have to be near water, salt water, preferably.” She also has a small fleet of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that get her out onto the beach daily in the salt-saturated wind, and provide unrelenting companionship. “These little mutts keep me ageless because they like their exercise, so they’re always taking me out on walks.”

If you visit Speer’s home and framing studio, it’s impossible not to notice how many hummingbirds visit, incessantly, buzzing the ears of anyone who stays still enough to experience one of hundreds zooming by on its way to take a sip from the various feeders strung around her property. Coincidentally, the hummingbird is a Native American symbolic spirit animal for joy and something to which Speer attributes her sense of agelessness.

The only thing that brings Speer more professional joy than creating her own art is framing art created by her clients. “I find deep satisfaction helping artists find a frame that suits their art and their budget.”
And although the only concession Speer makes to her numerical age is confessing that wrangling 60-inch by 80-inch pieces of glass is a little intimidating without help, she adds, “I figure I’ll be framing until I die, which is lovely.”

To inquire about having your art framed by Bonnie Speer at Art Happens in Nehalem, call 503-368-3835.

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Form & Function, Josh Sabraw by Robin Will

Posted on 05 June 2014 by Jason

Josh Sabraw, Personal Trainer and Strength Coach, is the proprietor at Form & Function, which just moved to new quarters near OMSI on Portland’s east side.

Form & Function involves more than joining a gym and working up a sweat a couple of times a week. Many of Sabraw’s clients have been that route, and want better results than they can achieve on their own. A surprising number are recovering from injuries, needing to get strong without hurting themselves again. Either way, they identified a need for intervention, and word-of-mouth referral has brought them to Sabraw.
Sabraw looks like a jock and sounds like a psychologist. He talks a lot about trust, and conversation moves seamlessly between the definitions of fitness, the dynamics of motivation, the importance of self-image, and the Zen of self-improvement in every possible way. (If you don’t believe it, read his blog entry on nail-biting, at—he means every possible way.)
Sabraw describes how Form & Function fits in the current marketplace of fitness providers. “Mostly, when people think about gyms and fitness, they flash back to high school,” he says, shaking his head, “remembering coaches who were jerks, and trainers without much background in training.” His first job is to banish those memories.
Today, fitness programs for grownups fall into a handful of categories.
One is a Boot Camp approach, where a program is laid down and clients are expected to follow it. “You adapt to their program; they don’t adapt to you. It’s a good way to hurt yourself,” Sabraw says. He knows that for a fact, because many folks who start on a guts-and-glory program become Form & Function clients as they recover from their injuries!
Another approach to fitness is the big room full of specialized machines. Everything has its place, he notes, while pointing out the cold comfort of interacting with machines. One-on-one work with a personal trainer is an option, he says, although very few folks require that kind of constant attention.
The happy compromise is a semi-private program like the one at Form & Function. “What works best is exactly what I’ve got here—a minimalist gym with dumbbells and ropes,” Sabraw says.
The investment is in personal attention. Form & Function offers unlimited semi-private training visits for a flat fee. Sabraw develops a personal program for each client, and the clients come in on their own schedules, getting as much help as their programs require, and all of the encouragement they need to keep going.
It apparently works for everybody. Sabraw just moved Form & Function into a new Portland location within the confines of Iron Ethos—and 100 percent of his clientele made the transition with him. That kind of loyalty suggests there’s more going on than dumbbells and ropes.
The best guess is that clients are loyal to Sabraw because he is devoted to them. He is careful about limitations, and it’s not unusual for a client to spend a year stabilizing an injury before moving on to bigger challenges. But training is about progress, and when they’re ready for a challenge, he hands them one … “a little sugar in the medicine,” he says … until momentum develops, and clients start feeling their own success.
Sabraw hands out writing exercises for downtime, when routines call for rest, and one of his questions is, “What are you happy about today?” The responses offer a look at the intangibles of training. “I notice my grip feels stronger today,” writes one client. Another client, still ambivalent about training discipline, says, “I’m proud of myself for showing up.” Yet another says, “I feel like I value myself more.”
“Self-image is huge,” reflects Sabraw, and it’s clear that they’re building more than killer abs over at Form & Function.


New location: 210 SE Madison, Portland. For more information, contact Sabraw at 503-593-0179 or visit


Robin Will is a Portland writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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Community Close-up Q & A New Renaissance Bookshop

Posted on 26 March 2014 by Jason

We are delighted to spotlight New Renaissance Bookshop this month to share further insight into one of Portland’s gems and the owners, Darlene and Jamie Potter.

Often People refer to you as the conscious living bookshop on NW 23rd, but your business and role in the community reach far beyond just books. What is it that people find when they come to New Renaissance?

As a conscious living store, we offer the community an array of over 18,000 books, healing crystals, CDs with a listening area, gifts and statuary filled with meaning and beauty, and events to enhance your spiritual life’s journey.
We talk a lot about vibration in the store. Just like tuning forks, people resonate to a certain vibratory energy. Many people entering the store for the first time talk about a feeling of coming home or belonging when they feel the energy of the store. They become relaxed and move into a magical state where the unexpected can happen. Synchronicity flows where old friends meet and new relationships are formed. Just the right item is found, just the right book or music jumps off the shelf, and just the next step on the Path is taken. For some, this step can be life changing!

Can you share with our readers some of the history behind this iconic store that stretches across four classic Northwest buildings?

We started the store on December 4 of 1987. That means we are in our 27th year. The idea of the store happened when we were at a crossroads of career for both of us. The mission of the store came clearly in visual pictures while Jamey was on spiritual retreat. It was the clearest and strongest guidance that we have received to date. This work was ready to be born!
From Day One, we wanted the store to bring people together for spiritual community and sharing. We want people to find those of like mind, their tribe. So the events program has always been important. We wanted to provide one-stop shopping for the conscious consumer, so that you could get all your gift items here. We offer not only mala prayer beads crafted by artists reciting mantra but also a handcrafted compass for a great graduation gift.
We wanted to keep our prices moderate, so that we offer the most beautiful products with the majority of items priced under $25. We support good companies and artists with fair trade practices.
The store has expanded three times. We started in one Victorian house. In 1994, we marched south into the next two Victorian houses. And in 2002, we added our event center in the fourth house. Even the architecture can be mysterious. We have seen friends come in the store and tell us that they are amazed how big the store is. We like all the nooks and crannies that folks can get lost in. Some of our regulars will tell us that they have just realized that we have an upstairs with our Zen Garden fountain and statuary area.

What has been the most challenging situation you have faced in all your years in business and how have you addressed that challenge?

The recession and digitalization of books and media have been our biggest challenges. But “what doesn’t kill you makes you strong” applies here. Creativity became our friend and we needed to put out even more energy.
We offer the unexpected! The Free DVD Rental Program (one every time you come in the store) is very popular. Our Events Program has grown—events almost every day with three on Saturday and two on Sunday. We have local practitioners presenting product demos Thursday through Sunday—everything from energy clearing sprays, to local Oma chocolates, to luscious essential oil sprays. Every day, you can meet our readers and psychics at our reader table. We have expanded their evening hours. Free Tea is always available and each child who visits gets to pick a free semi-precious stone.
We did a mini-remodel in 2011 and brought in more crystals, jewelry, tea and body products. The response was immediate and we knew we were on the right track. We have to stay light on our feet and come up with new areas of interest. Right now, we are bringing in more men’s jewelry.

You seem to have a very loyal staff, and a regular and returning customer base. How have you managed to maintain these levels of cohesiveness and connection?

Our staff is our true treasure! There is a wealth of knowledge, experience and creativity in our staff members. We hire people who are serious about their spiritual quest and want to share their interest with others. We have a diversity of interests in different traditions and practices represented in our staff that makes New Renaissance balanced and strong.
To support the staff and customers, we offer staff meditations and free meditations for the public on Wednesday evenings at 5:30. We say universal healing prayers for all who request them. We have five prayer boxes around the store. We always have mini-miracles happening with our AUMS. Even the computers respond to an AUM, a little love and a reboot!
We are all about building relationships and seeing the Universal Consciousness in each person. It is not always easy but always rewarding. We support each other and everyone who walks in the door.

What’s new at New Renaissance in 2014? What do we have to look forward to in the year ahead?

2014 is looking good! We are considering another min-remodel this year to bring in more crystals, salt lamps and products for alternative health and body care. Tea, chocolate and yummy snacks have been strong and we will probably expand those areas. We are hitting the Spring Gift Shows and we will expand into wonderful areas.
We are co-sponsoring an exciting Afterlife Conference this June, featuring Eben Alexander (Proof of Heaven) and Raymond Moody (Life After Life). There will be sixteen other presenters too.
As always, we have built this mission at New Renaissance with the help and relationships that we have with you. We love your suggestions. Tell us what you would like to see. Together, we will keep New Renaissance strong and vital. We appreciate you!

Check their upcoming events and see a virtual tour of the New Renaissance at

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Curiosities – A Vintage Mall opened in Beaverton

Posted on 01 August 2013 by Jason

Curiosities, A Vintage Mall, opened in Beaverton in April, 2013. It has been a strong start, in part because the store likes to emphasize the local, green, sustainable values in their business.
Responsible consumers everywhere are finding that vintage resale makes a lot of sense. Ethically, and in terms of quality, variety, value, meaning and character, the best merchandise may be items that sold for the first time 50 or 100 years ago. Stores are rising to the occasion, with pleasant environments, attractive displays and well-curated inventories.
Curiosities occupies a large mid-50s building with a roof that looks like an origami project. It’s on Beaverdam Road, at the edge of the old Beaverton city center. The space is bright and clean; the merchandise is a visual feast; the people in the store are pleasant and knowledgeable; there’s plenty of parking; and everything in the store was fully assembled years before most of us were born. What’s not to like?
Forty-five local vendors maintain spaces under the big timbered roof. That’s the equivalent of 45 personal shoppers, scouring the state for quality merchandise; 45 paychecks that support families paying their taxes and sending their kids to school—it’s community development, from the ground up.
Curiosities is the brainchild of Travis Diskin, who has managed to turn a beloved hobby into a paying business. Diskin is a specialist in initiative ballot measures in Oregon, which is a tight niche indeed. Several years ago, he ventured into the vintage resale market to see if he could bolster his income, independent of the election cycle. It’s a good business for a man who is curious about everything. Diskin loves the stories that came with the items he sells, he likes the research involved in identifying new finds, and he is intrigued by the occasional items that he cannot explain at all.
At first, vintage resale was a hobby for Diskin, but it quickly morphed into a profitable dealership in a local mall. When that mall shut down, he found enough interest among dealers to open a mall of his own; at Curiosities, he maintains the space and provides the structure for other vendors.
Curiosities tends not to focus on super-valuable antiques, although they are certainly available and Diskin and his vendors know where to find them. Instead, the mall attracts beginners to resale shopping. They need useful things with more meaning and character than they’ll find elsewhere. They understand that materials and workmanship were indeed different before the invention of plastic and particleboard, and things made in great-grandma’s day may have another lifetime of utility left in them—not to mention charm. They may be shopping out of nostalgia, or they may see some ethical value in putting old china and flatware on their table, rather than buying new. They may be furnishing a small apartment, looking for older pieces that suit the space. Or perhaps they are stepping up from the “easy-assemble” items from a multinational corporation, and looking for something that expresses taste and individuality.
The key to shopping at Curiosities is to ask for what you want, and to keep coming back. Los of people are doing exactly that. Diskin is gratified at the number of repeat visitors since the mall opened in April, and the interest from dealers who shop his space. His first parking-lot Flea Market filled up quickly, and he will be holding them at least quarterly, and more often if the interest is there.
Curiosities is planning a storewide sale July 12-13-14, and good values will only get better.


Curiosities, A Vintage Mall is in the heart of Beaverton, at 12705 Beaverdam Road. They are online at, available by phone at 503-646-8653, and Diskin may be contacted at July 13 Comm Spot image 2

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White Bird celebrates 15 yrs of world class dance presentations.

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Jason

White Bird
by Robin Will
White Bird is the sole dance-only presenter west of the Rocky Mountains. This year marks their 15th anniversary in Portland—fifteen years of world-class dance presentations, artistic growth, involvement and investment in the community.
The celebration starts this month and will culminate next Spring 2013 with a big anniversary gala on April 7.
White Bird isn’t holding back. A huge, free-to-the-public event, Le Grand Continental, will be held on Sunday, September 30 in Pioneer Courthouse Square. The advance notes say, “150 amateur dancers of all ages and backgrounds dance as one, driven by the rhythms of country, techno, cumbia, waltzes, and R&B music.” Non-professional dancers auditioned for the production, and members of Portland’s dance community have been supervising rehearsals for weeks.
“It’s the largest dance event ever held in Pioneer Courthouse Square,” says White Bird Co-Founder, Paul King. White Bird has a tradition of showing Portland things it has never seen before, and this event will not be an exception. Le Grand Continental has been seen only a handful of times elsewhere in the world: in Montreal, New York and Mexico City.
White Bird’s indoor season will begin just a few days earlier, September 26, at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, with the world’s second appearance of the L.A. Dance Project, fresh from their world premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Benjamin Millepied, who gained worldwide acclaim in Black Swan as featured actor and choreographer, founded the group. Tickets for this show and all White Bird performances are available through their website,
So how in the world did White Bird land in Portland, and how does it thrive here? It is an improbable story, or, as King explains, only partly in jest, “… it was one heck of a midlife crisis.”
White Bird’s Co-Founders King and Walter Jaffe met in 1982 in New York City, where Jaffe was laboring in an obscure corner of the publishing world and King was utilizing his Cordon Bleu training as a pastry chef. The men wanted a situation where they could work together, and Portland was on their list of cities to investigate as a future home. “We got to Portland in 1996, just a couple of weeks ahead of the great floods of that year, and it poured rain the entire time we were here,” Jaffe reports. “We loved it.” Before long, they were Portlanders—not knowing a soul in town. At that point, King chimes in, they were thinking about starting a deluxe chocolate truffle business.
That changed at an annual gathering of West Coast presenters at the Oregon Convention Center. Jaffe had been on the board of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York, and he and King went to the conference to catch up with the company’s general manager. They came away with the idea that they should—and could—host a presentation of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Portland in 1997.
So they did. Starting without much more than a clue, they formed a nonprofit presenting organization, named it “White Bird” after their cockatoo, Barney, and learned their business as they went along. Portland was receptive; the Paul Taylor program was a success, so they decided to see if they could do as well with another artist, and then another. Somewhere along the line, they forgot about chocolate truffles.
Jaffe and King tend to attribute White Bird’s success to Portland. That is generous. They don’t say much about the artistic judgment, fundraising wizardry and coalition-building that keep the organization alive and involved all over the community.
This year the White Bird Dance Series offers, by subscription, six events between September and May, not counting the free Le Grande Continental public performances in Pioneer Square. A second subscription series, called White Bird Uncaged, features four events in a smaller venue, with artists who bring an adventurous point of view but whose work is not appropriate for the huge Schnitzer auditorium. Two additional White Bird Exclusive events will take place, MOMIX’s spectacular “Botanica” and CIRCA from Australia.
Additional student outreach activities including dance workshops and a student matinee performance at the Schnitzer will involve more than 3,000 area students, from elementary school through college. Over the years, White Bird has commissioned 29 new dance works.
An innovative program called NEST—which stands for “No Empty Seats Today”—donates unused tickets to social service organizations. Due to other budgeting wizardry, season subscriptions for students and seniors cost nearly the same as a similar number of movie tickets.
King and Jaffe continue to find new ways to make dance exciting, educational and accessible. Portland should give thanks that these men turned away from truffles.

Plan to attend Le Grand Continental on September 30 and help celebrate White Bird’s 15th anniversary season. Visit for more information about their offerings, and for a picture of Barney the cockatoo, the original White Bird.

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Vaerdi – A community spotlight about socially responsible investing.

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Jason

by Robin Will

Let’s start by learning a word in Danish: vaerdi. It means more or less the same thing as the English “value,” in the sense of priorities over price; the quality that imparts worth; the standard upon which judgment is based.
Thomas Jensen is from Denmark, and that is the name he chose for his financial advising firm: Vaerdi, LLC. Vaerdi is also the motto for what Jensen and his associates do, how they do it, and how they feel about it at the end of the day.
Vaerdi, LLC, invites attention from individuals who (1) don’t trust financial advisors, (2) don’t believe they need one, (3) don’t think they can afford one, or (4) have specific financial needs that haven’t been met elsewhere.
The issue of trust is huge, Jensen admits, because some financial advisors work on commission, or sell financial products as part of their jobs. The potential for conflict of interest is obvious. Vaerdi, LLC, avoids conflict of interest by selling only their expertise. They work only for their clients and earn their money through a fee structure, much of which is frankly published on their website ( This sort of transparency is unusual.
(The website, by the way, is a brusque, engaging and educational look at Vaerdi, its corporate values, and what clients can expect. It’s worth reading from front to back.)
What a potential client needs and can afford is a matter for discussion, which, at Vaerdi, is free. An initial interview—complete with homework—takes a deep look at a client’s resources, unique needs and, just as significantly, the client’s motivations—the values that guide lifestyle choices, decisions about how they spend or save their money, and their attitudes toward risk. Specific needs are considered: a woman as head of household, or a same-sex couple, may have very special requirements. There’s no charge for the initial consultation, and it’s the way that Vaerdi begins to figure out a unique offering for each client.
Results can be surprising, even when assets seem modest—and modest assets, Jensen stresses, get the same professional attention as great big assets. A company benefit package, for instance, usually represents both wealth and investment. Many employees don’t completely understand their benefit packages, and could be managing better for both gain and security. With a fee structure that begins somewhere in the neighborhood of coffee-change for a year, Vaerdi’s advice might be a good investment in managing wealth.
Discussing what is affordable, Jensen also points out that clients may be paying for financial services already, without knowing it. “If you’ve got a company plan or an IRA, chances are that it’s a load fund, which means you’re paying commission on it. The question becomes what you’re paying for, and if you’d be better off paying someone else,” he explains.

The initial interview will also assess a client’s readiness for the advising process. “Sometimes I feel like a counselor,” says Jensen, acknowledging that money is an intimate and embarrassing issue for many people. “People may be embarrassed that they’re not doing as well as they hoped, or that they’re not as disciplined as they’d like to be.” But, he stresses, he’s there to help, not to scold. Past decisions will certainly influence future possibilities, but there are always options to explore.
The question of value—vaerdi—shows up again in the question of how money is invested. Many investors want to keep their money in their own communities, preferably in green and sustainable businesses. Vaerdi, LLC, is in tune with those concepts in its own corporate philosophy—check their website for examples of what they are doing.
“There’s this notion that socially-responsible investing involves inferior financial return, but it’s not true,” Jensen says. “You don’t need to choose between returns on your investment, and doing the right thing. It’s a little more work on the advisor’s side to find the right investment, that’s all.”
Serious green investors need to look at their assets closely, he notes: “Your 401K is probably invested in things you don’t know about.” Clients may be lobbying against genetically-modified foods, and writing checks for Gulf cleanup operations, while their 401Ks are buying Monsanto and BP. Vaerdi can help you match those investment values to your own.
Vaerdi, LLC, is flexible and smart, and they welcome challenges. Read the website ( financial advising seems like a good idea, email Thomas Jensen (, or phone503-535-8096, to get started in an advising relationship that can change life for the better. What’s to lose? The first meeting is free.

Robin Will is a freelance writer for Natural Awakenings magazine.

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Kitchen Compost Caddy – A PDX must have item.

Posted on 08 May 2012 by Jason

We don’t usually think of great design and kitchen compost at the same time, which may be why many of us don’t like our kitchen compost pails.
This is the kind of story Natural Awakenings loves to tell: A local guy looks at a commonplace problem and solves it beautifully, after others failed or never bothered to try in the first place. It’s even better because our favorite elements are in the story: fresh thinking creates a green product that makes it easier for other people to live green. What’s not to like?
Jeff Evans is an avid cook. He is also an avid recycler. In theory, he believed that composting kitchen scraps was a wonderful idea. He wanted to do the right thing. But he had some issues with the standard Portland compost pail. Although it represented a step in the right direction, it clearly had not yet arrived.
Evans isn’t the only person to notice this situation. The pail is not pretty. On a counter, it is an awkward height for a receptacle. In the sink, it gets in the way. No matter where it is, scraping a plate or peeling vegetables into the pail is a three-handed operation—hold the plate with one hand, hold the scraper in the other hand, and with yet another hand hold the lid of the pail open. Given this challenge, it’s common, at least occasionally, to miss the pail, which requires extra clean-up.
Evans didn’t like the mess; he didn’t like the ergonomics, and he didn’t appreciate the aggravation. He didn’t believe it should be this difficult to do the right thing. Aside from that, he understood that the reason most of us have for giving up on a green project is, “… it was too much trouble.”
Unlike most of us, Evans comes from a manufacturing-and-design background that goes back more or less to his birth. The family business supported microchip manufacturing. When he started on his own, he specialized in medical installations. Creating products that only halfway worked would have run him and his family out of business.
He had never given much thought to compost pails although that was about to change. Evans didn’t actually lie awake nights, but he’s not the type to let go of a challenge. He needed a simple, durable, attractive, affordable and convenient way to overcome the multiple objections to the standard-issue compost pail that showed up in every Portland household last October, and he designed and prototyped until he came up with one.
The result is the Kitchen Compost Caddy. Patent is pending, and it is being marketed right now out of the basement of Evans and his partner, Ron Summerow. As long as you still have the pail that Metro gave you, count on spending $29 plus a little for shipping. If you need another pail, it will cost a bit more.
The Kitchen Compost Caddy shows uncommonly good thought applied to a common situation. The metal frame mounts the compost pail inside the door of a kitchen cabinet. It screws into the door frame (screws are provided), and holes are pre-drilled for the most common dimensions. The rack and pail, once installed, allows the cabinet door to be closed without interference with the sink drain or garbage disposal. The compost pail slips solidly into its mounts at top and bottom, and it lifts out easily for emptying and cleaning. A small handle clicks positively into place to hold the lid of the pail open for food disposal, vegetable peeling and bag changing. And it clicks just as positively into the down position so the lid will fully close. Two models are offered: one with a basket to store a box of composting bags, and one without.
The powder-coat finish means this product will never rust or corrode. It is difficult to imagine how it could be broken. Everything comes from local sources; it’s all 100 percent recyclable, and final assembly takes place, for the time being, in Evans’ basement.
To make the deal smell sweeter—literally—Evans will throw in an activated-charcoal filter with mounting hardware to attach to the underside of the lid. Like that box of baking soda in the fridge, you’ll be glad to have it.
To have a perfect story, there needs to be a happy ending. This product is brand new, and it’s currently local to Portland. Evans hasn’t given up his day job. He’s promoting Kitchen Compost Caddy through trade shows, advertising and word-of-mouth. He is also looking at other cities which already require composting, or which will follow the trend soon. With his patent pending, he has yet to find any competition for this delightfully ‘common-sensical’ product, so the future looks bright.


For further details, or to order a Kitchen Compost Caddy, visit or call Jeff Evans at 503-206-5665.

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Dental Designs Community Spotlight by Robin Will

Posted on 06 February 2012 by Jason

When he sees where his new patients are coming from, Dr. Lance Heppler notices a change‑‑for the good. Lance Heppler, DMD, FAGD, calls his practice “Dental Designs.” Located in southeast Vancouver, WA, it is one of the few holistic dental practices in the Portland area, offering everything patients expect in family dentistry‑‑except exposure to mercury.
More than 1500 names show up on an internet search for dentists with Portland addresses. Of those, “… there are seven or eight dentists like me,” Heppler estimates. Patients come from as far away as Albany to the south, and Centralia to the north.
Two years ago, about 30 to 40 percent of his new patients came specifically because Dental Designs was a mercury-free practice. Some of them were sick from exposure to mercury. Some of them intended not to risk any exposure to mercury, ever. Recently, that number has climbed to about 70 percent. New patients, overwhelmingly, are coming to Dental Designs specifically for holistic dentistry. The referral grapevine is working well for people who suffer from mercury exposure, Heppler surmises, and patients are becoming more educated about choosing the dentist, and the care, that will work best in the long term. To keep up with demand, Heppler has added another dentist to the staff at Dental Designs.
Holistic, or Biological, or Mercury-Free Dentistry‑‑all of those terms apply‑‑is still a controversial field. Holistic spokesmen cite evidence about the dangers of traditional dentistry; traditional voices characterize holistic practitioners as new-age kooks. Heppler is in a position to see the bigger picture. He is one of only about 2 percent of American dentists entitled to write the initials FAGD (Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry) after their names, which indicates continuing education verified by rigorous exams. It took him 10 years to earn the FAGD, and he’s familiar with the arguments on all sides of the issue.
The key, he explains, is seeing individual differences. Some people take in heavy metals, which flush out harmlessly. Other people will experience a slow buildup of mercury on peripheral nervous tissue until they start showing symptoms‑‑tremors, depression, fatigue, unclear thinking, chronic pain‑‑that can be misdiagnosed in a variety of ways. Symptoms start adding up somewhere in a patient’s mid-30s, and some patients suffer for years before the problem is diagnosed correctly.
Once a problem is diagnosed, treatment happens in phases. First, the old amalgam fillings are removed. “Getting them out is riskier than putting them in,” Heppler explains, and there’s a strict protocol for removing the fillings without risking further exposure. When the amalgam is gone, patients are referred to a naturopathic physician who can prescribe ways to remove the residual mercury from their bodies.
Of course, the obvious way to deal with toxicity issues is to never risk them in the first place. That’s the point of a holistic dental practice. Most of the patients at Dental Designs aren’t in crisis. Grownups and kids are getting mercury-free fillings, non-metallic bridge- and crownwork, a metal-free approach to straightening teeth and careful attention to individual tolerances for anesthetics and medications. There’s nothing here that’s likely to make anybody sick‑‑not now, and not 30 years down the road.
There are now two more outposts in the Dental Designs practice. Silver Falls Family Dental ( is operating in Silverton, Oregon, and Astoria Family Dental ( is thriving in Astoria. There are full-time dentists in each location, and Dr. Heppler visits once a week. Staff is hand-picked in all locations, and Heppler can’t stop singing their praises. He describes them collectively as gentle, wonderful, smart and understanding. Because of the broader perspective of the Dental Designs practice, they are especially alert to patients’ concerns and questions.


Dr. Lance Heppler’s practice, Dental Designs, is located at 900 SE Chkalov Drive, close to I-205 on the southeast side of Vancouver. The office phone is 360-896-1449, and the website is

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