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NW Women's Journal clearly slants towards progressive

By S.M. Berg

A new free publication is available in Portland. You may have seen one of the violet-colored boxes around town for the NW Women’s Journal, a new venture from the woman who produces the NW Women’s Directory, Michele Larsen. The NW Women’s Directory is the only local listing of woman-owned or managed businesses in the Portland-Vancouver area and now the NW Women’s Journal will further Larsen’s mission to support and promote entrepreneurial Northwest women.

“It’s something that’s sort of been in my mind to have a journal with more women’s editorial,” she explains. When the Portland Business Journal came out with trading cards of 20 local business leaders to celebrate its 20th anniversary, there was only one woman represented. Even Gert Boyle of Columbia Sportswear shared the card with her son Timothy, and his biography came before hers on the back of the card. The compilers of the list complained they couldn’t find more worthy women or minority business leaders to include, but Larsen didn’t believe it. As the many pages of the NW Women’s Directory attest, there’s no small number of successful businesswomen in Portland for anyone earnestly trying to find them.

“I carried the cards around to keep the outrage fresh,” she says.

Larsen founded Purple Turtle Press, Inc. to publish the directory, and from the beginning she had larger plans to publish other materials focusing on women. In August, the first issue of the NW Women’s Journal was released and it appeared to be a very promising start. Articles discussing women’s voices in media and medical care co-exist with columns highlighting career advice and profiling local businesswomen. Throughout the issue are several lovely photographs from Portland photographer Maggie Parker.

Just as the NW Women’s Directory provides an opportunity to showcase women-focused businesses, agencies and nonprofits, the journal offers listings for upcoming events each month. Unlike the directory, there’s plenty of humor and more personal commentary, both of which seem to avoid the treacly commentary commonly offered as women’s perspective in mainstream media. While ostensibly for women of all personal and political leanings, there’s a clear slant towards progressive ideology that presents itself in articles on reproductive choices and rights, environmental impacts on migrating birds, and remodeling homes with sustainable materials.

The most recent issue begins with a feature about how far Oregon and Washington have slipped backwards in the number of female legislators holding office. The feeling that Oregon has moved past its heyday of championing women in politics has been gnawing at me for some time but it wasn’t until reading Cielo Lutino’s article that the feelings got connected to the depressing facts. Relevant, fact-filled features like this are what make the NW Women’s Journal better than the average free paper in Portland.

Larsen says she has been getting submissions from all over the world since posting a request online for women writers, artists and poets, but she intends to keep focusing on featuring women in the Northwest as much as possible. Female writers for features and columns are not as laborious to solicit as female poets seem to be.

Explaining the challenges of editing the journal she created, Larsen remarks, “I didn’t expect it would be this much work!” But she adds that it is a labor of love and she has great visions for the free monthly paper. Considering that the October 2005 issue of the Oregon Business Magazine named Larsen one of Oregon’s 50 Great Leaders, the future of the NW Women’s Journal is looking so rosy it’s quickly becoming a pleasant shade of purple.


S.M. Berg is a Portland feminist writer.


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Last Updated: December 11, 2005