if you ever find yourself in Oregon…

There is a place out there that stands the test of time. It blends history with now, ghosts of yesteryear with vibrant life and community. This place is the essence of re-use, of creating something beautiful out of a dilapidated old building and retaining a sense of history. I’m talking about the Mcmenamin’s Kennedy School in Northeast Portland.

Welcome to the Kennedy School.

Welcome to the Kennedy School.

The Kennedy School Hotel is like a resort for the folks who don’t like new and shiny and boring cookie cutter hotels. It opened in 1915 as an elementary school and thrived for many years. It hosted a victory garden during WWII (which is once again a community garden today), and produced two major league ball players. In 1975 the school closed due to declining enrollment and its deteriorated condition. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s neighbors waged a battle against the school district to prevent its demolition and in 1994, the McMenamins purchased it and renovated it.

Today, the Kennedy School boasts the following : hotel rooms that were once classrooms (or in my case, I’m staying in the girls ball court), a brewery, a theater open to the public in the old auditorium, a restaurant in the old cafeteria, and honors and detention bars, community space and my favorite, a Turkish soaking pool.

The walls are filled with folk art that recreates the history of the school, neighborhood, and Portland. The hotel rooms each have blackboards, and the main school office is now the hotel office. It really feels like you are in the most fun school ever. Better yet, pricing is affordable. You can expect to pay $109 for a beautiful big room with a queen or king bed. It also includes free movies in their movie theater and use of the soaking pool (my favorite amenity).

All of the facilities are open to the public and you can tell that folks use it as a community resource. It’s by far one of my favorite pieces of Portland — the McMenamin brothers also have pubs and theaters, and other hotels in Oregon and a few in Washington state. If you are nearby any of them, it’s definitely worth a trip.

Here are some photos that I took of the Kennedy School. You can click on the images to see larger photos.

a backstage view of the Webby Awards

check out the Webby Award sites

The Webby Awards. They are called the Oscars of the internet and here’s why: They compile the most interesting, fabulous, well-designed websites there are, then have you vote on which you think is truly the best. These days everybody has a web presence – whether its an email, linkedin site, web site, facebook, twitter, or even a profile with a professional organization like AIGA.

I first heard about the Webby Awards when I was an employee, helping to re-build the Workplace Fairness (WF) website. WF provides legal information on employment law in lay terms. So, if you are having trouble at your job or want to know what your rights are as an employee, you can go there and find it without a bunch of lawyer speak. WF was nominated for a Webby in 2007 and again in 2009, please vote here.

Here are the top three NEW (to me) sites that I found on this year’s Webby nominee list.

1. Wordle.net

Wordle is basically an interface that takes any collection of text and does something creative with it. It changes up the colors and fonts and you can keep randomizing the pattern until you see fit. I used the first paragraph description of my Pushcart Design website to get this:

Pushcart Design got wordled.

Pushcart Design got wordled.

2. Red Bubble

Red Bubble bills itself as an artist gallery and community.  From what I get it’s kind of a cross between etsy.com and zazzle.com. Etsy being a hub of creators, selling any kind of ware from home made stationary, to t-shirts to belt buckles. Zazzle is more like a cafepress for when you have a creative design that you would like to put on a t-shirt, mug, etc. Red Bubble is a place where you can post your photographs, t-shirt designs, or art prints and RB acts as an agent to sell your work. You get to choose what you’d like to make on each item and RB will take care of everything else from printing (t-shirts are only printed on sweat-free American Apparel) to shipping. They send you a check every month for every item that you’ve sold. I’ve yet to try it, but hope to soon.

3. 8tracks

If yr like me and grew up in the 70’s or 80’s, you probably remember spending hours slaving away a the perfect mix tape for your new or old friend. Nothing seemed more satisfying than finding the combination where the songs just slide into each other, representing whatever mood or feeling that you were going for. Mix tapes have evolved and left the shell of the cassette behind (i’m working on a craft project to make something practical with my old cassette tapes), turning into mix CDs and ipod playlists.

8tracks allows you to create a mix tape without ever leaving your computer. No silly cassette decks, no turntable (though I still have mine), no blank CDs, just your itunes, their interface, and pure magic. You get to choose the artwork (which was always half the fun of a mix tape, anyway). It’s kinda cool, actually. Then all you need to do is give your friend where they can find the mix, and they get to share the magic.

You can listen to my mix-tape, ‘Stuck In The Nineties’, by clicking on the image.

Mural from the ABC NO RIO squat in NYC.

And that’s about it. Don’t forget to vote for Workplace Fairness (categories > activism > law) and check out the rest of the great sites nominated for webby awards.

The good to know blog will be bloggin’ at you again soon.

Bloggin' at Gaylords

Bloggin' at you this week from Gaylords Cafe on Piedmont Ave

up and at ’em

The good to know blog is NEW! It is one part graphic design blog, 2 parts review of fun stuff, 1 part action for social justice and 3 parts just your average good shit to know. I’m coming up with it as I go along, so please be patient.

If yr looking for a strictly graphic design related blog, please check out my *other* blog, pushcartdesign.wordpress.com.