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The Dropbox Derby Experience

On September 3rd, 2018, 27 teams of four gathered at the Eastbank Esplanade to compete in Lovett Deconstruction‘s Dropbox Derby, a building competition in the style of Iron Chef. Just 24 hours prior to the event, teams were given the theme, “A Seat at the Table,” and an inventory of salvaged materials was delivered. Actual building-time was limited to 4 hours – afterward, these finished products would be judged and then auctioned off, with the proceeds going to support Oregon Tradeswomen.

The morning kicked off with a spirited pep talk by Lovett Deconstruction’s Der Lovett, and at 10:00 a.m. sharp, the teams hurried over to the piles of materials and gathered their share of supplies. The next 4 hours was a flurry of sanding, sawing, staining, drilling, and hammering, as teams were feeling the pressure of 4 hours that felt more like 30 minutes!

Oregon Tradeswomen competed this year, too. The team of 4 was comprised of two board members, Moe Gauthier, and Meghan Moyer, and two staff members, Abby Bandurraga, and Trytten Tehrani. The team’s concept for “A Seat at the Table” was a hexagonal children’s picnic bench where everyone is the head of the table. The table top had a geometric inlay of wood of different colors representing the unity between all the different people who share the planet.


The level of artistry and craftsmanship at the Dropbox Derby was impressive. Many spectators wove through the Eastbank Esplanade observing the teams diligently working together to assemble their unique projects piece by salvaged piece. Once the building portion was complete, judges filed through to talk to each team about their finished products. The judging criteria included Aesthetics, Creative Use of Materials, Craft, and Theme.

There were many different ways in which teams interpreted “A Seat at the Table.”

With an honorable mention, Team OG crafted a tabletop with the image of a woman with outstretched arms which intended to symbolize welcoming everyone to the table.

In 3rd place, Team Feathered Caulk decided to challenge themselves and build the most complex type of table they could imagine: a fully functioning Foosball table!

In 2nd place, Team Neil Kelly, built a beautifully designed bench made up of two seats facing opposite directions, with their arm rests joined together to make a table.

In 1st place, Team Engaging Environments built a table with a seat within it. The seat represents the patriarchal oligarchy in which we live. Half of the table is not seen on the surface, but it functions by holding the rest of it up. This represents workers of all genders and ethnicities who are an essential part of our social systems, but are often unheard. This project was also honored with the People’s Choice Award.

The Dropbox Derby is an experience like no other. Vast imaginations, great skill, and fierce teamwork all came together to create stunning structures with a message. We are so  grateful to Lovett Deconstruction for organizing this stupendous event and for honoring Oregon Tradeswomen by naming our nonprofit organization as the beneficiaries of the auction proceeds.

Oregon Tradeswomen is grateful to all 27 teams for their creativity and talent, as well as all those who came out, cheered on, and bid on these handmade masterpieces. We are so lucky to have this community and we cannot wait to see what is in store for next year!


Posted on by OTI Staff in Community Partners, Events, Support OTI | Leave a comment

Your Voice Matters!

When we turn 18, we are granted the privilege of being able to vote in local, state, and national elections. We cast our votes to help shape the direction our country, to reflect our values and visions in the form of laws and elected officials. Even still, many people choose not to exercise their right to vote. Be it accessibility, apathy, not liking any of the candidates, or just not believing their vote will make a difference, there are many reasons why people don’t vote.

When people think of voting, they often think of the Presidential election that comes every 4 years, but there are many more elections that are just as, if not more important! State and local elections can happen every year with new initiatives, city counsel members, state legislators, governors, judges, and much more on the ballot. These elections are often overlooked, but they can be the most important as they affect the communities we live in! For those who are disenfranchised with the electoral college or political system as a whole, this is a surefire way to feel like your vote is making a difference. That is because it is!

Every two years, our country holds federal elections. That means that every two years, 1/3 of all US Senators and all 435 representatives in the House are up for re-election. When there is not a President up for election, we call these elections the Midterms as they happen midway through a President’s four-year term. Who we vote into Congress can be even more important than who we elect as President because it is the House of Representatives and the Senate who pass the bills that the President signs into law. Of course Presidents are important, but our representatives in Congress are who we voice our wants, needs, and concerns to with hope that they will do something about them!

This year, 2018, is a Midterm election, and an important one at that. The country is divided and so we need more people to make sure their voices are heard and participate in their civic duty! It is IMPORTANT for you to vote because it is We The People who decide how this country is run.

The first step is to get Registered to Vote!!! If you are not registered, this may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually SO easy. For example, in Oregon, whenever you update your address with the US Postal Service, they give you the option to Register to Vote!

If you still need to register, you may do so online here (some states may differ): https://vote.gov/

To vote in the Midterm elections, you must be registered by October 16th as the ballots will be mailed out on October 17th. You will have until October 29th to safely mail in your ballot, but you may drop your ballot off in one of the many Official Ballot Drop-boxes across Multnomah County until Election Day (Nov. 6th) at 8:00pm.

We sincerely hope that you feel empowered to participate in this 2018 election. We understand it may seem overwhelming, but there are many resources available to you online to help you through the process, some listed below.





Posted on by OTI Staff in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Journey of a Female Locomotive Engineer

Huffing and puffing along, a 7,000 foot freight train curves gracefully around the Columbia River Gorge. Jessica Hassler, locomotive engineer extraordinaire with BNSF Railway, looks out the side-view mirror of the cab at the 16,000 tons she has been vigilantly guiding for hundreds of miles. She feels pride welling up inside her as she safely and smoothly handles the power of this great machine.

Jessica has been a Locomotive Engineer for 7 years now and has been with the railroad as a whole for 10 years. Before her foray into the world of locomotives, Jessica was a creative ‘jack-of-all-trades’. Armed with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Illustration, she supported herself by doing freelance work. She was contracted by advertisers and restaurants to draw for them, but the work wasn’t conducive to ensuring a stable future; the market for creatives in Portland was, and continues to be, saturated. Jessica also opened up her own food truck, but after 3 years, decided that being an entrepreneur was not for her if she wanted to have job-security, health insurance, and to one day own a home.

She heard from a friend that BNSF Railway was looking for switchmen and conductors and that the work was well compensated and Union protected. In 2008, she took a chance and applied to BNSF Railway. She was hired as a switchman/conductor and worked for 6 months before getting furloughed. The furlough, while incredibly inconvenient, was a perfect segue into Oregon Tradeswomen’s Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC).

Jessica was at a loss as what to do until someone pointed her in the direction of Oregon Tradeswomen. Growing up in North Dakota, Jessica never considered the skilled trades or blue-collar work an option, as it was mostly men who filled those jobs, but going through Oregon Tradeswomen’s pre-apprenticeship training program, a whole new world opened up for her. During the summer of 2009 when Jessica was enrolled in TACC, she developed an interest in becoming a lineman with Bonneville Power Administration. One of the most valuable things she experienced during Oregon Tradeswomen’s class was the opportunity to learn math in a way that made sense to her. Jessica never saw math and numbers as things that came easily to her, but in TACC, math was broken down in a way that she could access. TACC was also a supportive environment where she felt like she could ask as many questions as she needed about anything.

Soon after graduation from TACC, BNSF ended Jessica’s furlough and she decided to go back and work as a switchman. Even though she didn’t go on to pursue the electrical trade, Jessica reflects on her time in the TACC program fondly, saying that:  “Oregon Tradeswomen picked me up when I didn’t know what to do. It helped me realize that even if the railroad didn’t work out, there were other options in store for me.”

And so, it was “Take Two” for Jessica. Hired on as a switchman, she switched cars, serviced local industries, and built trains for departure to their next destinations. Working on the railroad can be a very challenging job. While not for everyone, it is a place for someone who thrives on variety. You are on the railroad’s whim as you are on-call 24/7 and Jessica says that it is up to you to make the best of worst of it. Jessica made the best of it and after three years working on the ground, she took the promotion to become a Locomotive Engineer.

Throughout her time at BNSF Railway, the men that she worked with were nothing but welcoming and genuinely thrilled to have a woman join the crew. When she just got hired on, she was fearful of harassment or hazing, but instead she felt respected by the men who were all so generous to teach and share their tips and tricks. The men on her crew understood that she was their teammate and that if she succeeds, they succeed. Jessica calls them the family of men she never expected to have. There is irony in how Jessica found support, success, and a sense of equality at the railroad, a place people don’t expect women to work. BNSF does have a very strict harassment policy, but Jessica recounts that in her case, the culture has been so positive that it never needed to be enforced. Even ten years ago things were much harder for women on the railroad, but since then, the culture has evolved for the better.

To the women who are curious about joining BNSF, Jessica Hassler says, “Just do it! Be open and be brave. Drop the attitude and the ego and go into it knowing nothing with nothing to prove. Believe you can do it and allow yourself to learn it.”

10 years with BNSF Railway has flown by for Jessica and she has all that she once dreamed of: a rewarding job that offers great benefits, belonging to thee BLET Union, owning a home, owning a car, and she has the economic stability she always dreamed about. She even met her life partner through her job with BNSF.

So what does the future look like? Jessica can see herself sticking with it for another 20 years followed by happy retirement. As long as she can sustain the lifestyle, there is no reason not to go all the way to retirement.

Life may not always end up how you thought it would, but sometimes the reality you end up with is even better than anything you could have imagined. It is important to take things in stride and keep your options open. Who knows, you might discover something life-changing like Jessica did!

Posted on by OTI Staff in Career Path, OTI Graduates, Pre-Apprenticeship, TACC, tradeswomen | Leave a comment

3934 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. #101  |  Portland, Oregon 97212  |   phone: 503.335.8200  |  fax: 503.249.0445

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