Published in The Portland Alliance, December 2005
A new free publication is available in Portland. You may have seen
one of the violet-colored boxes around town for the NW Women’s Journal, the newest venture from the woman who produces the NW Women’s Directory,
Michele Larsen. The NW Women’s Directory is the only local listing of
woman-owned or managed businesses in the Portland-Vancouver area and
now the NW Women’s Journal will further Larsen’s mission to support and
promote entrepreneurial Northwest women.
that’s sort of been in my mind to have a journal with more women’s
editorial,” she explains. When the Portland Business Journal came out
with trading cards of 20 local business leaders to celebrate its 20th
anniversary, there was only one woman represented. Even Gert Boyle of
Columbia Sportswear shared the card with her son Timothy, and his
biography came before hers on the back of the card. The compilers of
the list complained they couldn’t find more worthy women or minority
business leaders to include, but Larsen didn’t believe it. As the many
pages of the NW Women’s Directory attest, there’s no small number of
successful businesswomen in Portland for anyone earnestly trying to
“I carried the cards around to keep the outrage fresh,” she says.
Larsen founded Purple Turtle Press, Inc. to publish the directory, and
from the beginning she had larger plans to publish other materials
focusing on women. In August, the first issue of the NW Women’s Journal
was released and it appeared to be a very promising start. Articles
discussing women’s voices in media and medical care co-exist with
columns highlighting career advice and profiling local businesswomen.
Throughout the issue are several lovely photographs from Portland
photographer Maggie Parker.
Just as the NW Women’s
Directory provides an opportunity to showcase women-focused businesses,
agencies and nonprofits, the journal offers listings for upcoming
events each month. Unlike the directory, there’s plenty of humor and
more personal commentary, both of which seem to avoid the treacly
commentary commonly offered as women’s perspective in mainstream media.
While ostensibly for women of all personal and political leanings,
there’s a clear slant towards progressive ideology that presents itself
in articles on reproductive choices and rights, environmental impacts
on migrating birds, and remodeling homes with sustainable materials.
The most recent issue begins with a feature about how far Oregon and
Washington have slipped backwards in the number of female legislators
holding office. The feeling that Oregon has moved past its heyday of
championing women in politics has been gnawing at me for some time but
it wasn’t until reading Cielo Lutino’s article that the feelings got
connected to the depressing facts. Relevant, fact-filled features like
this are what make the NW Women’s Journal better than the average free
paper in Portland.
Larsen says she has been getting
submissions from all over the world since posting a request online for
women writers, artists and poets, but she intends to keep focusing on
featuring women in the Northwest as much as possible. Female writers
for features and columns are not as laborious to solicit as female
poets seem to be.
Explaining the challenges of editing
the journal she created, Larsen remarks, “I didn’t expect it would be
this much work!” But she adds that it is a labor of love and she has
great visions for the free monthly paper. Considering that the October
2005 issue of the Oregon Business Magazine named Larsen one of Oregon’s
50 Great Leaders, the future of the NW Women’s Journal is looking so
rosy it’s quickly becoming a pleasant shade of purple.
S.M. Berg is a Portland feminist writer.
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