Think Oregon

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From Where I Stand: Gaston

1859’s From Where I Stand feature heads to Gaston, a small hamlet 30 miles outside of Portland.

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Alan Scholz: Portable bike builder

A self-described serial entrepreneur, Alan Scholz has built his life and businesses around his love affair with bicycles. CEO of Green Gear Cycling and maker of Bike Friday in Eugene, Scholz has converted his passion into dozens of innovations for cyclists worldwide. “I’m out on a ride, going 40 mph downhill, and I’m thinking of how to design a bike so others can experience the thrill,” he says. Scholz, 61, opened his first bike shop at age 17 in the garage of his parent’s North Dakota home. At 19, he borrowed his mother’s sewing machine and stitched together a carrying bag that would fit on his bike. He peddled the resulting product, the Burley Bike Bag, at the Eugene Saturday Market as a young father, but had difficulty getting his infant daughter there safely on his bicycle. So he invented a safe and durable child trailer—the Burley Lite. The success…

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Oregon’s Creative Impact

1859 sits down with Oregon’s most creative and innovative thinkers and doers.

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Xihou Yin: Scientist

A new biotech company in Corvallis, AGAE Technologies, makes ecofriendly products that may change the world by helping clean up contaminated sites and toxic waste dumps, simultaneously boosting yields from older oil wells. Senior research scientist Xihou Yin, Ph.D., of Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy, identified a strain of bacteria that produces molecules called rhamnolipid biosurfactants. These molecules have widespread applications, including removal of heavy metals from contaminated soils and recovering hardto- extract oil from mature wells. Rhamnolipids also offer biodegradable green solutions for cosmetics, shampoo and soaps, as well as organic food production and pharmaceuticals. Yin, who came to OSU in 1997, and his team at AGAE (American Green Agricultural and Environmental) Technologies, were the first to work out an efficient and cost-effective process to produce highly purified rhamnolipids in large quantities. This had eluded researchers worldwide since 1949, when rhamnolipids were originally discovered. Researchers have long sought…

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Aurelie Tu: Designer

Designer Aurelie Tu hitches the world together with artworks in felt. When concert cellist Aurelie Tu developed tendonitis from her first profession, she got crafty in her second set. The musician who once toured with the opening act for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, and played with Portland’s Pink Martini, channeled her training in industrial design. In 2010, she founded CraftedSystems, a startup through which she designs art from woolen felt. “My goal is to make something structural without a framework—a design challenge,” says Tu, 34. “I like experimenting with different geometric shapes in that process.” The design of her Southwest Portland home is itself a portrait of style—a chair shaped like a giant vertebra, a low-slung commode, interlocking felt pieces sparingly throughout. Tu grew up in Calgary, her father a mathematical economics professor, and her mother blazing trails in the oil and gas industry. She began playing cello at…

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Margarette Leite & Sergio Palleroni: Sustainable architects

Margarette Leite and her husband, Sergio Palleroni, were already looking into ways to make schools more sustainable when their daughter started fourth grade in a portable classroom at Portland’s Sunnyside Environmental School. A lot of the parents were concerned about putting their kids in a portable classroom for the year. There were air quality issues and the potential for “sick building syndrome,” an illness thought to be related to chemical contaminants and inadequate ventilation. Architects and Portland State University professors both, Leite and her husband set out to remedy the problem by designing affordable and sustainable portable classrooms. In 2009, at the university, they convened a day of activism called Rethinking the Portable Classroom. “We kind of threw everything at the topic,” says Leite. Out of this came a prototype with solar-powered ventilation, larger windows for day-lighting, low- and no-VOC finishes, and sheet rock that actively converts VOCs into safe…

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Bill Rauch: Stage Director

The word that pops up again and again when people talk about Bill Rauch is “passionate.” In the six years since joining the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as artistic director, Rauch, 50, has brought his passion, experience and considerable energy to Ashland. This earned him many awards— including the Zelda Fichandler Award in 2012 for “transforming the regional arts landscape through imaginative, brave work in theater.” Under his direction, OSF has expanded its playbill to include classic musicals, global classics from diverse cultures and contemporary work, including plays commissioned by the festival. His brainchild, the ambitious and popular “American Revolutions: the U.S. History Cycle,” envisions thirty-seven new works capturing moments of change in American history. Now in its fourth year, American Revolutions introduces The Liquid Plain, which has already won the 2012 Horton Foote Prize for a promising new American play. Co-founder of Cornerstone Theater Company in 1986, Rauch spent twenty…

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Robert Henry Oshatz: Architect

If you want to experience a rush without any drugs, turn your browser to oshatz.com. Enter the wondrous world of Portland architect Robert Harvey Oshatz. You might think you’ve fallen into the rabbit hole. Each is a commissioned piece of art—a place that people live, work or go to worship. Oshatz designs around “the poetry of a site” and the personality of the client. Some structures are flowing and sensuous, others sharp and edgy. “When the building is at peace with the environment, the people inside are at peace,” he says. The client is the reason for the project, he emphasizes. “I try to give the client everything he wants rather than imposing how I want to live in the space. All dreams should be fulfilled.” His own Portland home is shaped like a ship’s bow, built in the 1980s on a steep hillside overlooking the Willamette River. The interior…