PSU student wins Portland Society grant

Portland State student Lindsay Caron Epstein has been awarded a grant from the Portland Society, which supports women entrepreneurs in the cycling community.

Portland State student Lindsay Caron Epstein has been awarded a grant from the Portland Society, which supports women entrepreneurs in the cycling community. The grant will allow her to take a course in using Adobe InDesign software this August.

The Portland Society is an organization dedicated to female entrepreneurs and cycling. Elleanor Blue and Ellee Thalheimer founded the society in May 2010 in an effort to support bike-oriented businesses and women within the cycling and business communities.

While making a list of bike-oriented businesses in Portland, Blue and Thalheimer noticed a lack of businesses and organizations led by women.

“So that led to deciding to showcase women-owned, bike-oriented businesses at an event called Bike Economics,” Blue said. “We ended up with 20 businesses on the program and a waiting list. The energy at the event was so amazing that we decided to keep it going with monthly breakfast meetings, and the Portland Society came out of that.”

It was through these breakfast meetings and the Portland Society’s e-mail list that Epstein became aware of the new organization and the Portland Society Fund.

Epstein is a junior at PSU majoring in environmental studies. She also works for the Institute of Sustainable Solutions (ISS), where she is currently putting together a calendar of sustainability events in Portland.

Epstein said that learning InDesign will help her with a variety of projects, including her work for the ISS and for a zine that she is putting together. It features stories about bike commuting, as well as tips about cycling and will feature illustrations by Epstein’s boyfriend and she will use InDesign to insert images and text.

“I think what they [the Portland Society Fund] were looking for really is proof that people are interested in creating a more vibrant cycling culture and street culture,” Epstein said. “They really wanted evidence that you were taking a skill that could be applied throughout your life to something that you could take with you no matter where your career went.”

Epstein has been involved in cycling for many years and has been a part of cycling communities in Arizona and Cincinnati, as well as Portland. Epstein led Critical Mass in Cincinnati and helped to organize a bike costume parade. Though she found cycling to be a common mode of transportation in Arizona, she was surprised by how novel it seemed in Cincinnati.

“In Cincinnati just by doing the things that I always do, I felt like I made a difference,” she said. “Every day I made people think about something they had never thought before.”

Applicants for the fund must be Portland women who need funding for professional training, conferences or workshops that will allow them to gain skills to help make Portland more bike friendly.

This is the first year for the Portland Society Fund and, according to Blue, it received eight applications from which it chose three fund winners.

“The strongest applicants had a really clear connection between their own professional development and their vision for Portland,” Blue said.

Blue said that Epstein’s application stood out because of her “concrete vision” and the way the work she is doing with the ISS brings many different Portland movements together.

“It’s a small and unglamorous, but an important, building block that will help her be an effective leader for many years to come. That sums up exactly my vision for this fund,” Blue said of the InDesign skills Epstein plans to gain.

A gala will be held on May 26  to honor the three grant winners  and to allow them to present their ideas and work. The Portland  Society hopes to raise $5,000 at the gala so it can hold another funding  cycle in 2011. At the latest, it will  be accepting applications again next year. ?