Think Oregon

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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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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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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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Tony Furtado: Musician

A child prodigy of the banjo, California-born Tony Furtado won national bluegrass competitions as a teenager. The first time he played before a live audience, he says, “I heard the applause, the energy of the crowd, and it was like a drug.” He left college at 19 to join a band. “I love playing live music,” Furtado says. “It’s something that’s always stirred my soul.” His versatility on banjo, acoustic and electric slide guitars ranges from classic folk songs of the 1930s, to Tom Petty and original work. “I love a wellcrafted melody and soulful lyrics,” he says, having added singer-songwriter to his many musical credits. His sixteenth and most recent recording was captured in 2011 in Portland, “Live at Mississippi Studios.” This performance encapsuled his energetic, funloving style of play, as well as his banter with the audience and other musicians. That love of live performance has put him…

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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…

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David Logsdon: Brewer

David Logsdon discovered yeast while in college. No, in a good way. At Mt. Hood Community College in the late 1970s, Logsdon studied food science and fermentation. Disappointed with beers on the West Coast, the native Ohioan began home brewing. His first was a stout, which he had just finished before his father, brought up in the Midwestern lager tradition, visited. The elder tasted the dark liquid and then declared, ‘Well it’s not beer, but it’s not bad,’ says Logsdon. So began Logsdon’s lifelong specialization with beer’s key ingredient—yeast. He continued to experiment with yeast and beer, before the industry was well developed. “The first hops I found were at G.I. Joes on the shelf in a brown paper bag,” Logsdon recalls. “They were as brown as the paper bag.” At the same time, Logsdon started collecting yeast strains from breweries and began culturing his own brewer’s yeast. By 1985,…

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Cory Carman: Rancher

Star chef Vitaly Paley walked in and Cory Carman’s hopes walked right out. “He said, ‘I will try your sample, but I will tell you, I don’t like grass-fed beef,’” Carman recounts as Paley’s opening sentiments. “Well, he tried it, and he’s been a customer ever since.” Likewise the chefs at Beast, Laughing Planet, the University of Portland, Lewis & Clark College, and Oregon Health & Scienc University also began serving Carman Ranch’s grass-fed beef after tasting it themselves. Growing up on a traditional ranch run by her uncle, Carman set off for Stanford University and a subsequent spell in Washington, D.C. “I thought that I would come back to the ranch when I retired,” says Carman, 33. “I thought I would be involved in agriculture policy and international development work.” It was under the tutelage of sustainable agriculture icon, Stanford professor Walter Falcon, that the traditional Eastern Oregon ranch…

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Heather Straw: Jewelry designer

Jewelry designer, mom and business woman extraordinaire, designer Heather Straw was selling about $1,000 a month in handmade jewelry when she attended a trade show in Las Vegas in 2005. In two days, she sold $43,000 and knew that her life was about to change. “I was a young mom, I’d just lost my shop in downtown Bend, and I was terrified about the future,” she says. “I gave my boyfriend, now my husband, the stack of orders, and we started filling them in our home.” Nashelle Jewelry soon had five employees working in her living room. In 2006, she leased an industrial-sized bay on Bend’s east side to house a showroom and work area. The business grew at warp speed, today encompassing six industrial bays and twenty to thirty employees, depending on the season. More than 400 boutiques worldwide carry the Nashelle and Nash (for men) lines. Nashelle rings,…

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Anna Fritz’s The Gospel of Tree Bark

Anna Fritz wrote most of her new album, “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” in a little cabin in the coastal mountains of Southern Oregon with only the birds and the water from nearby creeks to lull her to sleep. Sounds like an album for a bunch of pagan back-to the-land-types, right? Maybe… but she grows so far past this parody both lyrically and musically on “Bark,” that she might be spending more time in the spotlight this year than she anticipated.