There’s no doubt about it – the Coates Kokes office is beautiful. We moved into the Commonwealth Building in downtown Portland in 2011 (before my time here), onto the “unlucky” 13th floor. Superstitions aside, we have whiteboard walls, a fridge stocked with sparking water, a stunning, in my opinion, a 360-degree view of Portland – stretching from OHSU to the Fremont Bridge.
Starting in April, or whenever the rainclouds leave town and the temperature breaks 60 degrees, I try to spend as much time as possible in the best area of the office, our adjoining roof deck. I like to take work outside. It’s the perfect place to edit or read, with Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens peering over my shoulder.
Even though I grew up about two miles from our office (and went to high school less than a mile away) it’s still exciting to work in the heart of downtown Portland. We can see the city’s infrastructure working from where we sit – the MAX and busses on 6th Avenue, construction cranes in all five quadrants and commuters crossing by bike and car over the many bridges (give me a call if you need a traffic report).
Where we work keeps us connected to community. We see the good, and the not so good, of our city every day. The beauty of Portland can mask the deep disparities its citizens face. Our clients, as public service agencies, can’t just focus on the good. It’s their (and by association, our) responsibility to understand the unique challenges faced by individuals, communities and cities across the state. That’s something we have to keep in mind every day.
One of the things that drew me to this agency was the client roster and a commitment to helping people “Live Better.” Even though we work across many different disciplines, our knowledge of the disparities people face is always at the forefront, and it’s impossible for it to not touch everything we create.