30 Strangers, PDX. 3, 4 + 5.

A few month’s ago I participated in this awesome event by ASMP Oregon, called PDX Squared. They had a map of Portland and marked off 72 squares all across the city. As a participant, you get one square randomly assigned to you.  I decided to use this map to determine where I would go to meet a great variety of people for this project. Yesterday, I enlisted my 15 year-old niece and she blindly chose 2 different squares to set up and find a few people for the project.

First up was Beech and 12th St. My niece, an avid reader, spotted one of those cute sidewalk “little free libraries” and it felt like a perfect spot. Setting sun, charming neighborhood. We met Casey and when he told us his profession, the spot felt meant-to-be.

3. Casey in Alameda

Where are we: Alameda (NE Beech St and 12th St)
Name: Casey
Profession: Pre-School Teacher (for about 10 years) Is also in some bands.
Age: 35
Nationality / Origin: Grew up in Portland. Dad from Portland. Grandpa from Iowa. Some cousins in Vancouver, BC.

Favorite spot in Portland:
I love driving across the Freemont Bridge because it’s really high up and has a nice view of Portland. I’m in some bands and have to go over it a lot to our practice space. That’s a common one that I do weekly and every time it’s like wow, it’s always so beautiful.

The Willamette River is always really fun. It’s really powerful.  I feel like I always get a sense of history and it almost forces me to see into the past. It’s hard to avoid the deep connection with place along the river.

Least favorite thing about Portland:
Feeling pushed out of the city because of the affordability. Every year it’s a struggle to keep living here. Harder…It’s hard because it is an issue of desirability.  It’s a beautiful place and has a lot going for it. But there is an influx of people and the housing market is out of control. At least for me. Like I said, I’m a pre-school teacher. We don’t make a lot of money.

What does success look like? Being Happy and feeling it.

Did you have a different sense of success growing up? Yeah I thought it had more to do with status and money, the common views of success.

©Katarina Kojic_MG_9185

Best piece of advice? Use one side of the towel for your head and the other side for your butt.


What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
First thing that comes up is this funny time when I was probably in 6th grade. I was using the shower in my mom’s master bedroom for whatever reason. And she noticed I was only using one towel. And she was like, “You’re only using one towel? That’s gross! I use one for my head and one for my body. That’s crazy.” But since then, I’ve always used one side of the towel for my head and the other side for my butt.

Next stop

4 (&5). Rex and Angus in Arbor Lodge

As we turned onto Greenwich looking for a good shot or backdrop, we saw Rex and little Angus out on their lawn. There was a sweetness to the moment, I parked the car and introduced myself and the project. They were instantly game and while setting up, we met several neighbors, his wife, one of their twin new borns, and two dogs. There was a genuine neighborly vibe of friendship on this street, it was nice to be around it.

We interviewed Rex first and then took some photos. Two and a half year old son, Angus, also answered some of our questions.

Where are we: Greenwich Street in the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood
Name: Rex and son Angus
Res: Real Estate Agent
Angus: Play (his words)
Age: 48 / 2 and a half
Nationality / Origin: Scottish, Irish

What does success look like to you?
Rex: Being able to take good care of your family so you have some control of your time and you know your needs are going to be met. Financial freedom, but control over your time because of it.
Angus: Play with my toys, put them away and go to bed.


©Katarina Kojic_MG_9200-2

Favorite thing about Portland / favorite place to go in Portland
 I got a tooth for daddy / I go somewhere

©Katarina Kojic_MG_9236

Best piece of advice? Buy real estate, it will make you rich.

Did you have a different sense of success since growing up?
Well, you know, I graduated in the 80s and sometimes people at that time would talk about the “me” generation. And you don’t hear that so much anymore. But I also think the economy has changed too. And the projections that I had at that time- were things were going to be like this, (gestures with his hand held high.) And things turn out differently than you expect them to.

What does “this” mean? What was your wildest dream?
Well I was an architect before I got into real estate. And you have certain expectations of greatness.
Me: like greatness meaning being on the cover of Architectural Digest?
Rex: yeah. And to be honest, I’m very happy with the success that I enjoy. You know, I can provide well for my family, I’ve actually owned a real estate branch office in the building, we have a beach house, you know, we do okay. Laughs. But, the flip side of this, and this is something I’m working on actually, I’ve closed down my business. And focussing working with buyers and sellers because I want to have more control over my time. And I’ve actually started working with a new company and there is a team lead coach who is is going to help whip me into shape. So I can focus and manage my time better and spend more time with the three littles in the family. (In addition to 2 and a half year old Angus, they just had twins)

©Katarina Kojic_MG_9263

Angus: Play,  Rex: Real Estate Agent

Favorite thing about Portland and favorite place to go in Portland:
Rex: The People / Anywhere outside
Angus: I got a tooth for daddy / I go somewhere

Least favorite thing about Portland:
Not enough lakes. Traffic.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Buy real estate, it will make you rich. I truly believe that. You know having a job will earn you a living, but buying real estate will earn you wealth. I tell every young person I meet, well I tell my clients of course, but I tell every young person, even when they panic, oh I can’t afford it… it’s okay, when you can, start setting aside some money. Rent is more expensive than buying a house with a mortgage these days. Which is crazy. So, it may sound a little cliché, especially because I’m a realtor, but I totally believe it and it makes me, really excited to work with people to help them that with that. I just gave someone keys to their first home today. They are two young doctors and I told them the same thing. They both have great incomes, I said, your incomes will earn you a great living, but you know your home will earn you wealth. Give it 10 years and it will double in value.

Angus: Cut a tree. (to be fair, he was stuck on a story about a branch that got cut down that he was heavily involved in. I don’t think he’s suggesting to cut down all the trees.)

Check out Rex’s site PortlandRealtyTeam.com

See more of my work at katarinakojic.com



Day out in Dumbo

Spent a fun afternoon earlier this fall with Julie Lazarus, of Elezar handbags and accessories and Katerina Melnikova to show off a few beauties from Elezar’s line.

©KatarinaKojic Elezar handbags





On the set of The Bookclub Unbound photoshoot

Day 21 of Love- Love of coincidence

I met up with Leslie and Rikki in Bryant Park. In two days they would be boarding the Queen Mary II on their way to London and a few weeks later flying to Istanbul. A few things will get checked off their bucket list, they said.

Leslie and Rikki stop in NYC before boarding the Queen Mary 2 to London and then on to Istanbul.

Leslie and Rikki in Bryant Park, a huge square dancing party is taking place behind them, they weren’t really into it.

Name: Leslie / Rikki
Age: 67 / 54

Profession: Retired Educator / Retired Customer Service Director for Air Canada, now a part-time care aid in a hospital dementia facility.

Nationality / Origin: Canadian from the northern Climes, Eastern/Western Viking, aka Scandinavian, some Eastern Russian / Born in Germany.

What is your Relationship to each other: Good friends

How did you meet each other:
Rikki: “Boy that’s a story. In a little aerobics studio in Sechelt, British Columbia when I was moving there to finish building a house and went to a little aerobics class and I signed my name in… and Leslie can take the story over from here, because she is the one who read my name.”

Leslie: “I had just lost my best friend, whose name was Rikki, that week– within 3 days.
I thought I’d never have a Rikki in my life again, and in the door she came. I was taking the attendance and her name was Rikki. And she came from exactly the same place in BC that my friend had been living. And my best friend’s brother’s name was Harold and this lady’s last name was Harold. And it became a crazy coincidence that we really don’t yet get. That was 1992.

What is your favorite thing about Leslie: “Oh, she is so… generous spirit, generosity, non-judgmental and totally accepting of people and also a very interesting person to talk to, very interesting. Always stimulating and always ready to get going and do things. I mean this big trip we’ve got planned there aren’t a lot of people who can enjoy or want to go away that long and don’t feel that they have to be attached to their families but can really, you know have that adventurous streak. And STILL be very nurturing and family oriented at the same time.”

What is your favorite thing about Rikki: “Oh well… Rikki is an extremely hard-working woman, it so impresses me. She never ever takes the easy way out. Most generous, most tolerant. Tolerant in a good way not meaning “I’m putting up with you” but really tolerant in her assessment of people and always looks for the good side. And there’s many, many more things, but I don’t want to upstage this girl.”

I really love it when Rikki… “I really love it when she’s at aerobics and I can get to talk to her, because she takes too much time off sometimes, because she’s working. I just want her there every day… but she’s not, she’s still working and I’m not.”

I really love it when Leslie… “Can come for a coffee, we go to Starbucks, for an hour or whatever time we have in the day and we can have a really great gab, a great conversation in that time.”

Why is Rikki important to you: “She constitutes a sort of thread of continuity thru that period that I met her and I don’t have a lot of friends from that period anymore, I’ve lost quite a few of them, so it’s continuity I think, and it’s not having to explain myself. I don’t have to fill in all the background. I love to talk, I talk too much, and it’s a really good thing not to have to say everything when you’re with someone.”

Why is Leslie important to you: “Because even if I don’t see her everyday, she’s just such a solid personality and such a good friend that I know she’s there and accepts me and is a good sounding board and the confidence I’ve given her, I know only stays with her.”

What does love mean to you Leslie? Love is… “A quality of mind that indicates caring and as I’ve observed this in NY, because it does come to mind here, I’m finding that people, even if they’re rough, to have a very, very deep courtesy. Like a caring——courtesy is of the heart, and I really see it in this city, despite a lot of grittiness and other things that are a little foreign to me, and I really appreciate that. I think it’s far more important than having good manners, to have courtesy.”

What does love mean to you Rikki? “Genuine respect for all life. And it doesn’t have to be extraordinarily demonstrative, it’s just acknowledging other living beings and things and caring for them in your own certain way, in your own little realm that you can nurture one another.”

How did your trip come about?
(Rikki) “Leslie talked about her great travels, and I’ve been wanting to go to Turkey and she said, that sounds great. This was planned over a year ago. So we started with the Turkey trip and then Leslie said what about the Cunard Queen Mary from New York to London, and I said, why not… And then why not a few days in New York, one night, two nights, now three nights.” (Leslie) “Then we can stay in London, with my Daughter in South Hampton and it just kept going and going and going. It’s actually a fairly ambitious trip for one haul.”

Bon Voyage, Leslie and Rikki!


Day 20 Stranger Team

Victor Cipriano, 40- Police Officer & Emmy, 10- K-9, Lab / Red Fox Hound Mix

Emmy and Officer Cipriano in Grand Central Station. They have been together for 7 years. She was rescued from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and is named after a special friend of the department. ©Katarina Kojic

Emmy is certified in Explosive Detection. ©Katarina Kojic

MTA Police Officer Victor Cipriano. His best piece of advice: Enjoy everyday. ©Katarina Kojic

Notes from Creative Mornings with Simon Sinek

A couple fridays ago, Simon Sinek spoke at the Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo. The topic was How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action-based on his book Start With Why.

I just found the notes I jotted down from the talk and I wanted to share them. These are my paraphrased notes and what I took away from the morning. He also has a very inspiring TED Talk which you can watch when you are looking to be inspired.

My Take Away Notes:

-The feeling for fulfillment comes from doing good for others.

-The only way you will survive bootcamp (story about the marines) is to learn to ask for help from others and the only way to get help is to help others.

-You have to have self-confidence in yourself and your ability before you can help someone else and before someone else will help you.

– Do more with what you have-Celebrate what you have, Don’t criticize yourself for what you don’t have.

Regarding Management and Leadership of people who work for you.

-Make sure they understand their own strengths and talents

-Put them into situations they can fail and encourage them to do it again.

-Do little things for others

-Reward effort, not the accomplishment of the goal

-With a clear destination you can more easily overcome obstacles because you see the effort is moving you closer to your goal.

Vintage Parents

I fell in love with photography and film thru my dad and my uncle Vipsy’s photographs and 8mm films. They both loved taking photographs and filming their families. And most of the evidence is from the 60s and early 70s. My Dad’s 8mm camera was stolen when I was about 5 or 6, and as the youngest, that means there aren’t very many films with me. Perhaps that is why I feel extra nostalgic toward the look of those early films and photographs. The colors, the clothes, the lifestyle photographs of our family and friends–I love it! I have a box of 8mm film reels I brought back to NY after the sale of my mom and dad’s house. We lost my dad several years ago, so these are truly special memories for us. Big reels in blue metal cylindrical containers and little yellow Kodak boxes which were short films only several minutes in length. Films of us at Christmas, of my sister coming home from the hospital as a baby, or my first time walking… We used to watch them as adults when we were home visiting. We’d put up the d-Lite Projector screen, my dad would thread the film and my mom would make tea and serve something delicious she baked. One of the reels labled “1977 Big Garden Our House”- has a shipping label addressed to my Grandmother (Oma) in Germany. That’s how my parents shared our lives with the family abroad. They would make a film and then send it overseas.  I imagine it went down like this: The film reel arrives in the mail at Oma’s. Instantly, a tea kettle is on the stove and a cake that just happened to be baked already, gets sliced up and put on nice china with small silver dessert forks. Meanwhile, my uncle sets up the projector, feeds the film thru the spool, and the family is called in to gather in the living room. Oma brings in the coffee and cake and there in the living room in Planegg, Germany, they watch my mom and my sisters and me frolicking and picnicking in a huge weedy garden that was the plot of land my parents bought and where my dad would build our house (the one we just sold). My earliest memories begin around that time.

Another box I brought back, is filled with boxes of slides. One of the boxes is of my parents before me and my sisters came along. I never saw, or remember seeing any of these photos. There was one photograph of my parents on their wedding day that sat on the dresser in my parent’s bedroom, old and faded, for as long as I could remember. It was exciting to discover the other photos taken from that day plus a few others. Last night my husband and I devised our own method of projecting them onto the wall so we could photograph them to share. We now have on our wish list, a carousel projector, but we were pretty delighted with how they came out. Other than a slight adjustment to the darkness or lightness of the photograph, these were not retouched and we didn’t blur out anyone on purpose.

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