Edgy subjects

A preview of our November/December issue.

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A few weeks after I started working for Oregon Business in 2011, I attended my first OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards, an annual gala celebrating the state’s most promising startups.

One of the winners was Good Clean Love, a Eugene-based “sexual intimacy” company. I was struck by their mainstream approach to an industry many view as seedy, and eventually we published a feature on GCL and other likeminded enterprises such as Bunnyjuice, a Hood River-based enterprise that curates “love kits” for hotels.

In this issue we once again revisit the sex business, this time viewed through the lens of the tech industry. The seeds were planted last spring, after I read an article about Microsoft and Amazon executives who were charged with abetting prostitution in Seattle. The conversation — and media coverage — in Oregon around the lack of women in tech had also reached a kind of fever pitch, and we thought the time was ripe to push the boundaries of that discussion.

The editorial process yielded a package of stories exploring the topic from all angles.  We don’t shy away from the dark side. Reporter Don McIntosh, for example, explores how new technologies are at once empowering sex workers — while also facilitating the trafficking of women and children.

On the lighter side, we pay homage to the many software companies here that are run by couples who are partners in romance as well as business. We also include a Q & A with Switchboard CEO Mara Zepeda, a Portland leader who discusses the entrepreneurial process — and its gender discontents — in the context of procreation metaphors.

Hunting plays a special role in the Oregon mythology. It also helps sustain government agencies like the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and, proponents say, local ecosystems.

Our profile of Jim Akenson, the Oregon Hunters Association’s first conservation director, unfolds in context of hunting’s decline in an increasingly urbanized world, as well as efforts to reframe the activity as a natural extension of the locally-sourced food and conservation movements. 

Writer April Streeter does an admirable job weaving together Akenson’s backcountry lifestyle with the economic and environmental implications of his work.IMG 4588

Our third and final feature reports on the knife industry in Tigard and Tualatin and how it has helped carve out a regional identity for the south metro Portland area.

Even I am sometimes surprised how organically articles in a given issue coalesce around a theme. Yes, we make an effort to highlight different industry sectors in each issue of the magazine. But there appears to be an invisible hand guiding our production process — steering us toward paths we hadn’t necessarily planned on taking.

You probably know where this is going. Sex. Hunting. Knives. Our November/December content shines a light on disparate areas of human endeavor — and three of the world’s oldest professions.