I'd Love to be a Lentil

Two of our favorite entrepreneurs, Kate and Julianna, happen to live in Lents. They invited us into their Living Rooms to talk about the neighborhood. They are founding partners of Bologna Sandwich, a graphic design business which produces engaging contemporary design for all kinds of people and projects. They also teach at PSU. Their homes are about 4 blocks apart.

What’s so great about Lent’s? I know you don’t drive, but lots of Portland neighborhoods offer good public transit.

Kate: Lents is affordable. I love that the area feels a bit removed from the "urban-ness" of close-in neighborhoods. In a way, the I-205 freeway acts as a barricade to downtown. That seems undesirable, but it makes our little neighborhood very cozy and quiet. I've lived in all four Portland quadrants and so far Lents has been the best in terms of community—I have some pretty great neighbors who I actually know and talk to! There are parks and trees here and the lot to house ratio allows for people to have yards.

When you first walked into your house, the day the realtor showed it to you, what did you experience?

Kate: I smelled maple syrup. The next thing I saw was carpet. 

You self-reported that you often don’t finish personal projects that you start. Why is that?

Kate: It's hard for me to decide to prioritize personal projects. I tend to get stuck on the idea that if projects aren't relevant to/requested by someone other than myself, or if it's not some grand venture then it isn't worth doing. It's definitely something that I would love to get better at, but at the same time, it may be ok to embrace half-done things as process. Maybe I get too hung up on the idea that projects (specifically personal design/illustration projects) need to have a defined end state to be valuable. My unfinished floor project needs to be finished though. 

If you could add one new business or service to Lents, anything you wanted, what would you like to see?

Kate: Community services, transitional housing, de-paving the weird industrial lot that is contributing to the 100 year floodplain issue, general advocacy and raised awareness that portions of Lents are in the floodplain. More affordable small family owned businesses like Tony's Garden Shop or El Pato Feliz. 

That’s more than one, but we’ll take it.

Why is your headquarters at Julianna’s house instead of your place?

Kate: Julianna's house has space in it that is perfect for our studio and allows Swan Johnson, the greyhound, to be part of the team. I also find that I tend to be more productive when I leave home and go to a place designated for working.

Julianna, how did you know your house was right for you?

Julianna: I had a transaction on a different house fall through and I needed a place to live. I was at a point where I might have taken something that was less than what I was hoping for when this came along. It had much more space than I would have expected for my budget, it was in good shape, updates had been tastefully done, and Kate was right down the road. It was a pretty lucky find.

Why did you paint the walls green? It’s a very trendy color right now. Did that have something to do with it?

Julianna: I'm most content when my living space feels bright, happy and natural. I also love the outdoors… painting the room green was one way to bring the outdoors in. Throughout the years, I've experimented with the full spectrum of colors on my walls, and I finally found something that feels perfectly "me."

Lents is going to change. The proposed development at Foster and 92nd is just one example. How does that make you feel?

Julianna: I'm excited for a more walkable Lents, but I'm also concerned about housing affordability in Portland in general. Due to its affordability and proximity to public transit, Lents was one of two neighborhoods I considered when looking for a home. It's hard not to imagine that ultimately, Lents will no longer be affordable for people with modest incomes. I think that is something that we need to be engaging with more directly as a community. 

Is it true your neighbors have a turkey? Does it have name? What does it sound like?

Julianna: Yes, my neighbor has a turkey and several chickens, and I love it! The Turkey's name is Tom. We hear him gobbling all day while we work. It's a delight.

If you could add or change one thing about your house, what would it be?

Kate:I would bolt it to the foundation.

D. Larson, editor