The crowd and panelists

On Tuesday, October 7th at Mississippi Studios, Sheepscot Creative invited five panelists from Portland’s design, planning, and preservation communities to discuss our city’s architectural narrative. The conversation covered tremendous ground, but it revolved around one central question: What do the buildings we choose to construct, inhabit, restore, and demolish tell the world about us?

The panel was moderated by Sheepscot’s president, Dave Weich, and featured Joe Zehnder, chief planner at the City of Portland; Reiko Hillyer, assistant professor of history at Lewis & Clark college; Peggy Moretti, executive director of Restore Oregon; David Staczek, principal at ZGF Architects; and Portlandia production designer Tyler Robinson. (For more details on our guests, see “Meet the Panelists.”) More than 100 people turned out for the event, which also featured a reading from Live Wire head writer Courtenay Hameister and music from’s DJ Bobby D.

Portland Past Present Future: Our Architectural Narrative was a 2104 Design Week Portland event sponsored by

Event sandwich board

• Download an edited transcript of the conversation, or view the whole thing here.

• View a photo gallery of stills from the event.

• Read preview coverage from Portland Monthly and the Portland Business Journal.

• Listen to the complete audio recording on SoundCloud:


Portland is changing. Maybe you’ve noticed? Walking down Southeast Division or North Williams, it’s hard to miss the rapid growth and constant construction that have overtaken once-sleepy neighborhoods. (For a smart take on the topic, read Carl Alviani’s recent article “Repacking Portlandia.”)

Embedded in all of these changes are decisions that reflect what Portlanders value—what we choose to preserve, to demolish, to build, to celebrate. On Tuesday, October 7, as part of Design Week Portland, Sheepscot founder Dave Weich will moderate a conversation with five Portlanders who are involved in first-hand ways with those decisions.


“Being able to exercise judgement about what to protect and what not to protect—it’s a moment that cities have had forever. Even Portland.”

Joe Zehnder has served as the City of Portland’s Chief Planner since 2001; previously, he worked in planning and development in Chicago, Baltimore, and Vermont. 




“Our memories are encouraged by what we see. Stories become codified by what the landscape tells us. And what’s worth preserving is very much a political decision.”

Reiko Hillyer is an assistant professor of history at Lewis & Clark college, where she specializes in built environments and African American history.



Peggys Headshot 2013-cropped“People arrive in Portland and reflect on people’s friendliness, strangers connecting. What’s behind that? Some of it is the physical space in which we interact.”

Peggy Moretti is the executive director of Restore Oregon, which works to preserve historic buildings and to advocate for the environmental and social benefits of preservation.


staczek headshot“Recently, in terms of architecture, the Portland buildings that have risen to the top of the national picture all have a sustainability side to them. People are here because of their love and connection to the outdoors. It only seems logical that we’d be building in line with that.”

David Staczek is a Senior Designer at ZGF Architects, where he has focused on healthcare projects and multifamily residential projects around the country.  


“The best production design is the stuff you don’t notice—the feeling, sense, overall atmosphere. We try to maintain the look and feel of the city even though we might not be in a place that’s specific to the script. We don’t feel like we need to dress it up too much.”

Tyler Robinson is the Production Designer for the IFC comedy Portlandia; he’s created sets and props for all four seasons of the show so far.


In addition to the discussion, Live Wire’s Courtenay Hameister will share an original essay and DJ Bobby D will spin songs about buildings and cities. We’re excited, and so’s local media—the Portland Monthly wrote an in-depth preview about the show, and the Portland Mercury called it a Design Week Portland “highlight.”

Design Week Portland: Portland Past Present Future: Our Architectural Narrative, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, Tuesday, October 7th, 7pm, $14, tickets:


Show us your Portland, Portland

by Dave Weich on September 18, 2014

What building—existing or long-since demolished—says ‘Portland’ to you?

Post a photo or a few short sentences in the comments section below. Everyone who posts (including you!) will be eligible to win one of two $30 gift certificates to Mississippi Studios. We’ll pick and announce winners on October 4th.

What got us thinking about Portland buildings? On October 7th, we’re joining Design Week Portland and to host Portland Past Present Future: Our Architectural Narrative.

See what we have planned and click for tickets.


For months, we’ve been working on the launch of a program called Narrative Mechanics. Find more information about it here and here.

For a couple years now, we’ve been working with Holly Andres on a series of portraits for the Oregon Cultural Trust. Apart from that, we’re big fans of her fine art photography.

In considering subject matter for Narrative Mechanics, I immediately thought of Holly’s work. She tells such rich stories—using only still photographs. With such a storytelling bug, I wondered, why not make movies instead? That one question led to many others. Before long, I was interviewing Holly to get some answers.

Ten weeks after that initial interview, here’s the result.

Wondering how we made this video? Read about our process.


Portland-based Community Inspired Professionals believes that business and community can thrive together. I’m pleased to be joining the group on Thursday morning to share some lessons about marketing.

Come join us! A good crowd is expected, but I’ve been assured that it’s not too late to RSVP.


Up! Up! Up with clients! We’re positively thrilled about the Oregon Cultural Trust’s 2013 fundraising results: a 25% increase over 2012 through the Willamette Week Give!Guide, with a $100,000 increase in giving on the last day of the year alone! Plus almost 1,000 new Facebook likes.

Here’s one, extra large (48-feet wide, to be exact) element of our campaign: the billboard we designed using Holly Andres’ photograph of Cheryl Strayed from our work with Holly in 2012. It spent six weeks at two locations in downtown Portland.

Read all about it in the Cultural Trust’s eNews.


Want two free tickets to the Northwest Film Center’s Saturday 7pm screening of Mistaken for Strangers?

So much of Sheepscot’s work supports arts and culture in Oregon that we figured, Why not give people the chance to experience some of that culture first-hand? For free. Welcome to our first in a series of giveaways, roughly organized around the idea of “arts and cultural events we’re most excited about, ourselves.”

Take your pick among three ways to enter the contest: 1) Add your favorite song or album by The National to the comments below; or 2) Add your favorite song or album by The National to the comments for this post on Sheepscot Creative’s Facebook page; or 3) Share Sheepscot’s post with your Facebook friends.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. You probably want to hear more about the film. Here’s a passage from Ned Lannamann’s review in the Mercury:

“Of the stuff I’ve been able to preview [from this year's Reel Music Festival], the best thing showing is Mistaken for Strangers (screens Sat Oct 19, director in attendance), a hilarious and heartwarming documentary from Tom Berninger, younger brother of the National’s lead singer Matt Berninger. Tom, an amateur filmmaker who still lives with mom and dad, is enlisted to join the National’s tour as a roadie. He brings his camera along, intending to make the definitive backstage tour documentary—but most of what he captures is his own failure to fulfill the simple tasks assigned to him. While the younger Berninger’s initial buffoonery is roll-on-the-floor hilarious, watching him mature on film and deal with sibling rivalry turns Mistaken for Strangers into something far better than another rock ‘n’ roll road doc. The result is a thoughtful, transformative, honest, immensely loveable movie.”

And here’s the trailer:

The deadline for entry is 3pm on Thursday, October 18th.
We’ll contact the winner later that afternoon.

Good luck!


Oregon Arts Summit 2013At Monday’s Oregon Arts Summit, I participated in a panel called “Media, Community, and Conversation,” which focused on “reliable, flexible tools for creating meaningful engagement, expanding dialogue, and generating enthusiasm for arts programming.” Here’s the original script of my presentation. (Special thanks to Portland Emerging Arts Leaders for the invitation.)

Today I want to talk about how your digital strategy should emerge naturally from organization’s objectives.

I’ll start by giving a simple example from our recent work.

In designing a new website for the Oregon Arts Commission, as we discussed their goals and reviewed content on the site we’d be replacing, we discovered that a simple, evocative description of their work and impact remained conspicuously absent. A typical user is unlikely to download a PDF and dig through your strategic plan; nor should they need to. And yet it’s vitally important that people know why you exist and what difference you make in the community.

We wanted to make this information as easy as possible to digest, so our team created a very short (48-seconds), animated infographic to do the job.

That’s really all I want to say about our work with the Arts Commission for now. Just that example.

Start with your objectives. Ask, How can digital tools serve them? Not, How can we have a Facebook presence? Don’t just decide, We should really be on Twitter. The question is: What new opportunities do these tools present that could help us achieve our mission?

“Digital” is your website. It’s your newsletter and blog. It’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. It’s Foursquare and it’s Yelp. It’s iTunes, Kindle, Google and Bing. It’s every app you haven’t yet heard of because you only have so much time in the day, right? Vivino—do you know Vivino yet? It’s like Shazaam for wine: You snap a picture of the label on a bottle, Vivino recognizes what wine you’re drinking. You get ratings and prices and comments from other users; if you choose, you can contribute to those comment threads, or you can simply save your ratings and your tasting notes privately so that next time you’re dumbfounded in the wine aisle of Fred Meyer in an instant you can retrieve the name of that Montepulciano you loved but can’t remember.

“Digital” is also the platforms and more broadly the technologies that no one’s thought of yet. Maybe some kid who’s learning about creativity at one of your workshops or in one of your audiences will imagine one into reality someday; there are boys and girls out there today who twenty years from now are going to be on the cover of Wired, for who knows what inconceivable expansion of what we now know to be possible, some technology that soon enough we’ll take for granted, such as, for example, carrying a phone, a camera, a notebook, a calculator, an atlas, a jukebox, a set of encyclopedias, a newsstand, a movie theater, and, yes, a wine steward in your purse or the pocket of your jeans.

The point being: More and more, like it or not, “digital” describes a state in which your audiences and funders spend much of their lives. Think, yourself, of the hours in your typical day, from when you wake up until you go bed. How many of your hours pass without either sharing or consuming some form of digital communication? Think about it. You checked your email or the weather or last night’s scores; you texted your spouse or your son; you snuck in a few minutes of Words with Friends. Now think about your organization and your goals for building not just audiences but communities. Pretty much every hour of the day, potentially, you have access to them. The New York Times this morning referred to contemporary American culture as “an always-on society.”

There’s tremendous competition for your audiences’ time, that’s true.

To be successful, you will have to make yourselves vulnerable. And you will have take risks. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the secrets to healthy digital relationships are not altogether different from the secrets to healthy face-to-face relationships: Have empathy. Give of yourself. Don’t make it all about you. Dare I say, love freely.

So, back to the beginning: What are your objectives?

Now, consider: What resources do you have? Potential funding or partnerships…staff members with a jones for this stuff. It’s possible—I would argue it’s even likely—that one or two impassioned staff members who thrive on digital communication will achieve more in a fraction of the time of a full-time hire who doesn’t naturally inhabit digital worlds.

Give them structure. Set purposeful, measurable goals. Empower them. Encourage the occasional failure. And then harness the creativity and dedication in your organization to apply these tools and technologies toward your success.