Tag Archive | "Steve Wilson"

OfficeXpats Completes One Year, Throws Big Party This Friday

10:42 p.m.

OfficeXpats, the cooperative work space upstairs in The Pavilion, is celebrating its first anniversary this Friday with a big party. Leslie Schneider and Jason Omens, co-owners and life partners, have plenty to be happy about: taking an innovative concept—shared space and resources—and staying solvent in a challenging economy through creative strategies, steadily growing the membership through new options and customer satisfaction, and achieving islandwide recognition due to rigorous support of and partnership with creative and cooperative ventures of all stripes. Schneider is excited about the fact that the OfficeXpats (OXP) membership level is at just about 100 members now, a nice round number coinciding with the anniversary.

The X Factor in OXP

Leslie Schneider and Jason Owens at OfficeXPats

Omens and Schneider

Essentially, OXP gives members support and tools for growing and maintaining their own businesses and ventures. Members have ready access to desks, high-speed Wi-Fi, wireless printing, video-enabled meeting rooms, fresh coffee, the ability to reserve meeting rooms online, drop-in printing/scanning/fax, PC tech support, a discount at the Pavilion gym, and meeting rooms with executive chairs, large-screen TVs, high-resolution cameras for easy-to-set-up video conferencing, white boards, and connectors for PC and Mac, including VGA and HDMI. And members get their profiles on the OfficeXpats website and on a large-screen TV in the reception area and in the Pavilion atrium.

But what OXP brings to the table is much greater than the table itself. Leif Utne, the VP of sales for a software company in Minnesota who works remotely, says, “Coworking is about more than renting a desk. It’s about creating a community space that fosters collaboration among professionals. There’s a kind of accelerated serendipity that happens in coworking spaces everywhere. People come in, look around the room, and find others with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to collaborate on projects and get work done better and faster. OfficeXpats is no different. We’ve got programmers, graphic designers, writers, marketers, financial experts, nonprofit managers, an HR consultant, a personal trainer, an EPA administrator, furniture designers, an archaeologist. When you mix that kind of diversity together in a common workspace, magic happens. That’s how projects like Ignite Bainbridge, Accelerate Kitsap, the West Sound Time Bank and the Agate Pass Exchange were born. All because OfficeXpats created the space for them to happen.”

Member Izzy Sanchez, founder of Integrated Healing and Strength Systems, says that for him part of the appeal is “accountability. I know I’m making an investment and I want to get the best out of my investment.” He also appreciates “the non-linear aspect of the tremendous energy of all these entrepreneurs congregated under one roof, busy creating, and their energy and focus are contagious.”

Member Alex Sanso, co-founder of Artopia Creative, sees the benefits to networking with those energetic entrepreneurs: “Over time, getting to know both the regular members of OXP as well as people who participate in workshops, has made me feel like a part of something bigger than just working by myself in my home. People have gotten to know me and the work I do, and have come to me as someone they trust in my area of expertise. I have even gotten a couple of projects from folks I’ve met through OXP.”

There are a number of ways to network and meet people through OXP’s programming:

  • Monday morning (9:30-10:00 a.m.) coworker checkins to set work goals for the week.
  • Tuesday Business Skills workshops. October’s theme is “free and cheap business tools” to download from the Internet.
  • Drop-in social media mentoring on Tuesdays.
  • Drop-in tech support for PCs on Tuesdays.
  • Thursday happy hour.
  • Bainbridge Business Connections, a meeting of local business owners, Fridays at 7:30 a.m.
  • The meetings of successful and influential organizations, such as West Sound Time Bank, Agate Pass Exchange, Ignite Bainbridge, and Accelerate Kitsap, that got their start at OXP.

Sanso said about Ignite Bainbridge that it “was a great example of just the right group of people coming together at the right time and saying, ‘Hey, what if we did this?’ It felt very organic the way it came together, starting tentatively and developing into a great community event. I don’t think something like that could’ve happened in a ‘traditional’ office setting and most definitely not in a home office.”

The intangible benefits Sanso referred to have drawn many members to OXP and kept them coming back. But the intangible benefits have also been key to generating some very concrete products. Paula Willems, a happy OXP member and human resources consultant, said how much of a difference OXP has made in her life, mentioning as just one example that, as a result of a brainstorming session she had with Schneider and Omens, she’s come up with a new business name (Sound HR Services). And, she added, she now has a website that she was able to get up and running thanks to help from some of her OXP coworkers.

OfficeXPats "living room."

OfficeXpats “living room.”

Membership Choices

OXP offers various membership options to meet the varied needs of potential users:

  • Café 10 (10 hours of coworking) for $45.
  • Café 20 (20 hours of coworking) for $85.
  • Passport (Pay as You Go) for $15 (soon to be $25).
  • Office Hours (Once a Week) for $88.
  • Flexwork (Three Times a Week) for $230.
  • Resident (All Week Days) for $320.

Member Tammy Deets, of Community Energy Solutions and Go Solar Bainbridge, likes the flexibility of the plans. She said, “It is easy to find one that matches our need, and we can change our plan from time to time according to our need.” She also appreciates being able to use the meeting rooms at OXP, which can afford crucial privacy.

Birthday Presents

Schneider and Owens are planning on sharing the love with fans and supporters. This month they are offering free after-hours for Resident members, as long as the sign up or upgrade happens in September, giving participants access to all events that happen after hours at no extra charge.

In addition, although they are raising the cost of the bottom level of membership, the Passport, from $15 to $25 per month, they’re adding a full prepaid day of coworking each month to that membership level.


OfficeXpats Year One DoneYou are invited! The celebration party on Friday, September 28th, is open to the entire community. Starting at 6:30, you can enjoy drinks, skewers, and salads and check out the organizations and ideas engendered at OXP in the last year. At 7:30, enjoy a performance from The Edge Improv. Then listen to 5-minute stories about coworking and the future of employment and entrepreneurship. Jill Bamburg, Curriculum Director at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, will speak.

A new art exhibit will debut at the party. It features local photography curated by Steve Wilson, a renowned photojournalist who has worked for National Geographic and Life Magazine.

Register in advance for the party at http://officexpats.eventbrite.com. OfficeXpats is located at 403 Madison Ave N, Ste. 240.


Photos by Julie Hall and Will Clayton.

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Bainbridge Puts Its Arms Around Nellie

Nellie Thomas has cancer in her brain. In January she had Gamma Knife surgery, a tried-and-true if medieval-seeming treatment whereby a metal cage of sorts is literally screwed into your skull and beams of intensely focalized radiation target cancerous areas. The cage keeps your head completely still, which if you think about it is pretty important for this kind of procedure. Nellie told me the only pain she had with the Gamma Knife, which doesn’t actually involve a knife and is considered noninvasive, is the anesthetic shot in her forehead they gave her before the procedure started.

Nellie after receiving her Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Photo by Steve Wilson.

Nellie after receiving her stage 4 diagnosis.

The good news for Nellie is that the Gamma Knife radiation has significantly reduced her five cancerous brain lesions, improvement that may continue for some time as the radiation does its work. Nellie is optimistic, but she also knows that this latest treatment is only one in a long series of treatments to keep her stage 4 aggressive cancer at bay. After ten years of living with cancer and having it spread from her breasts to her bones, spine, pelvis, and now brain, the Gamma Knife treatment is only part of a long decade of managing a chronic condition.

Nellie’s other good news is that Arms Around Bainbridge has stepped in to help her. This nonprofit, all-volunteer organization sprang up about six years ago when a group of Island friends who swim together joined forces to raise money for their friend Olivia Carey, who at the time was struggling with ovarian cancer. Carey was dealing with the often crushing financial burden that comes with serious illness—medical bills and medication costs coupled with an inability to work full time or at all.

Nellie at chemo appointment.

Nellie receiving chemo.

Since creating Arms Around Bainbridge, the group has offered financial and resource assistance to eight Bainbridge Island recipients, Nellie being their latest. For Nellie, whose parents are deceased and who has no siblings, support from Arms has been important both financially and emotionally. Nellie’s life partner for 28 years, Kathy Rickard, told me, “It’s just so helpful to have more support, to feel that people care and we’re not in this alone.”

Arms Around Bainbridge Board member Heather Burger explained that helping those in need in the community is “a feel-good experience for everyone involved, not just the person struggling with illness but all who rally around to help.” When I asked Burger if the organization was modeled after another, she said it was conceived by people who simply wanted to find a way to help a friend in need and that she is not aware of any other organizations quite like Arms.

Nellie entering the Gamma tube before her surgery.

Nellie entering scanner.

Burger continued: “Nellie and Kathy are incredibly resilient women. As has been the case with all of our recipients, they amaze and inspire us with their courage, strength, warmth, and positive outlook. For over ten years they have been dealt blow after blow in fighting not only Nellie’s cancer, but what cancer has done to their lives. Despite their setbacks, when we met them they wanted to know how they could give back. Kathy [who is a designer] is creating a logo for Arms and is also helping us update our website.”

When Nellie and I sat down to talk about her cancer, several things about her buoyed to the surface. She is a graphic artist with an art degree who also is by nature unusually intelligent, organized, and research-oriented, having had management experience as an art and marketing director at businesses such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. As soon as she received her initial diagnosis of aggressive stage 4 breast cancer in 2002, her artist and director selves joined forces to research, document, and manage her situation.

Nellie with chemo head. Photo by Steve Wilso

Nellie with mirror.

One of the first things Nellie did was ask National Geographic photographer and journalist Steve Wilson to photograph her medical experience, including her double mastectomy surgery. “I doubt it would be allowed now, but he was there in the operating room, taking photos of the whole thing,” she said. Nellie showed me many of the photos Wilson, a nature photographer, took.

[Graphic Content Alert] Although the photos are difficult to look at, I shared Nellie’s aesthetic view that they are beautiful pieces of art. One shows one of Nellie’s breasts in the operating room after it has been cut off, revealing the bright red layers of tissue resembling a brain or even, yes, hamburger meat—a shocking yet unforgettable image. Another photo shows Nellie’s flat, almost concave chest where all that remains of her removed breast is a large seam of ragged stitches.

I asked Nellie if it was painful for her to look at the photos, and she said that it was more interesting than anything. Her artist self can’t help but appreciate the photos’ interplay of shadow and light, surprising angles, and unflinching yet tender rendering of the subject matter.

Dr. Chue, Kathy, Nellie.

Dr. Chue, Kathy, and Nellie.

The manager in Nellie has kept a tower of binders full of meticulously ordered medical records, case notes, research, and even page upon page of doctors’ business cards: MDs, naturopaths, acupuncturists—everyone who has played a part in her odyssey of surviving.

After the initial double mastectomy surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, Nellie had four good years of remission. But by 2007 the cancer had recurred and spread. She told me she underwent chemotherapy treatments on and off over the course of 2007 and 2008 and then was in a “holding pattern” for a while, in part because the oncologist she had been working with at Seattle Treatment and Wellness Center, Dr. Ben Chue, had left the practice because of a glaucoma problem affecting his vision.

Nellie and Kathy had grown to trust and rely on Chue, whose holistic approach to treating cancer incorporated naturopathic and other forms of care, as well as an atypical chemo regimen. To help support Nellie’s system during chemo treatments, Chue’s team, for example, put Nellie on supplements and scheduled lower doses of chemo over longer periods to allow her body to better handle the drugs. Dr. Chue’s absence had left Nellie feeling untethered.

Nellie's supplements.

Nellie's supplements.

But as fate would have it, one day a friend giving Nellie a ride from a cancer support group meeting dropped her off near the ferry, and Nellie found herself standing in front of Dr. Chue’s new clinic, Life Spring. Chue had gotten treatment for his eyes and was practicing again. Nellie reconnected with Chue, who told her the cancer was spreading again and required further intervention.

After a scary incident falling over suddenly in the parking lot of Home Depot and later an unnerving episode of suddenly speaking nonsensical gibberish to Kathy one day, Nellie went in for an MRI in October of 2011. The test revealed five cancerous lesions on her brain, which led her doctors to recommend the Gamma Knife procedure.

Kathy and Nellie with surgeon.

Kathy and Nellie with surgeon.

About dealing with cancer for a decade, Nellie said, “Long-term living with cancer is like erosion. . . . It’s not like I’m giving up hope, but I also have to look at the reality.” A crucial support for that reality is the Cancer Life Line Support Group Nellie attends in Seattle. “Stage 4 women” meet monthly to share information, experiences, and whatever comes to the surface. Nellie said the women in the group can be honest, talking about end-of-life issues and not sugar-coating their experience for newly diagnosed cancer newbies, who Nellie explained don’t necessarily want to hear what veterans have been through.

When I asked Nellie what her major support has been, without missing a beat she answered, “Kathy and Zoie [her dog]. I would not be here right now if it hadn’t been for Kathy. She has been there through it all; I can count on one hand how many doctor visits she has missed in ten years, and they were all because of work obligations. And my dog Zoie. We have really bonded. As a puppy she would wrap herself around my head on my chemo days.”

Zoie and Nellie.

Zoie and Nellie.

Speaking of chemo days, Nellie told me about the one upside: sugar. For cancer patients chemo days are the only days when eating sugar is okay—actually encouraged. Cancer loves to feed on sugar in the body, and doctors tell their patients to eat sugar on chemo days to “wake up” the cancer cells and encourage them to “eat,” or absorb, the drugs more readily.

It seems, if you’re open, there’s always something sweet, even in the bitterest of circumstances. And sometimes a little sweet is all you need to get through the day.

To learn more about Arms Around Bainbridge or to make a donation, visit their website.


All photos courtesy of Steve Wilson, except the photo of Nellie and Zoie, taken by Kathy Rickard.

Posted in Community, Features, Organizations, ProfilesComments (0)

Play Winslow

Weekend on the Rock: January 6-8, 2012

Here are Inside Bainbridge recommendations for the weekend of  January 6-8, 2012. Don’t forget it’s First Fridays Art Walk tonight.

Photo by Harry Longstreet1. “Only Human”: Photography by Harry Longstreet

When: Friday, January 6, 5-7 p.m.
Where: BPA Gallery, 200 Madison Avenue North

  • Longstreet is winner of back-to-back Single Image Merit Awards (Black & White Magazine), the Single Image Merit Award (Color Magazine), and recently the Best-in-Show at the Kitsap Arts Festival.
  • You get to attend the opening reception.
  • This collection features images from around the world of fellow travelers.

Hooded Face2. Street Philosophers: In Pursuit of Happiness

When: Friday, January 6, 7-8 p.m.
Where: OfficeXPats, upstairs in the Pavilion 403 Madison Ave N. Suite 240

  • Steve Wilson, National Geographic photographer, introduces his new social justice book project Street Philosophers: In Pursuit of Happiness.
  • Wilson interviewed street people on Bainbridge, in Seattle, and at Dignity Village in Portland to make this book.
  • You can also see 30 of his Northwest nature photos on exhibit.

3. Our Kids, Our Future

When: Saturday, January 7, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Where: Bainbridge Island Public Library

  • Listen to Christine Rolfes talk from the dual perspectives of being a mom and a legislator.
  • Find out about local organizations and their work in the schools.
  • Learn about volunteering opportunities.

4. Weed Warriors at Pritchard Park

When: Saturday, January 7, 1-3 p.m.
Where: Pritchard Park, Eagle Harbor Drive just past Taylor
Why: Let out your already-building 2012 frustrations by hacking away at Scotch broom, buddleia, and ivy.
For more info contact Jeannette at 206-755-8461 jfranks1@comcast.net

5. Seattle Opera Preview: Attila

When: Saturday, January 7, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Bainbridge Public Library
Why: If the weed warrioring (see above) didn’t help, find out how the King of the Huns handled his anger with a preiew by Norm Hollingshead of the upcoming Seattle Opera presentation of Verdi’s Attila.

5. Coates Design Architects presents The EDGE Improv

When: Saturday, January 7, 7:30 p.m.
Where: BPA, 200 Madison Ave. North
Why: After expelling anger with pruning shears (see above) and Attila, laugh it all off with The EDGE.
Tickets, $16 for adults, and $12 for seniors, students, youth, military, and teachers, may be purchased online at www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org, by phone at 206.842.8569 or in person at BPA.

Mochi Tsuki cooking6. Mochi Tsuki

When: Sunday, January 8, 11-3 p.m.
Where: IslandWood, 4450 Blakely Ave.

  • Bask in good health and prosperity wishes for 2012 at this long-running (23 years) Bainbridge Island tradition of a really long-running Japanese New Year’s tradition (thousand of years).
  • Pound rice into mochi cakes.
  • Watch and listen to the Seattle taiko drum group Kokon Taiko.

Over 1,000 people will attend: Parking will be limited.

TangleTown Trio7. First Sundays at the Commons: TangleTown Trio
When: Sunday, January 8, 7 -9 p.m.
Where: Bainbridge Commons, 402 Brien Drive

Mezzo-soprano and composer Sarah Mattox, violinist Jo Nardolillo, and pianist Judith Cohen bring music written by living composers to the people.

Photos courtesy of Harry Longstreet, Steve Wilson, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community, and TangleTown Trio.


Posted in Features, Weekend on the RockComments (0)

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