Spirit of the Salmon website launched

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission sub basin plan map

Home page for the Spirit of the Salmon Plan Volume 2: Subbasin Plans, with interactive map of the Columbia River Subbasins

In Blue Mouse Monkey’s second major project for CRITFC, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, we are proud to announce the launch of the brand new Spirit of the Salmon website. The Spirit of the Salmon Plan, also known as Wy-Kan-Ush-Mi Wa-Kish-Wit, was written in 1995 to provide a roadmap for restoring declining salmon populations in the Columbia river basin. This website presents the entire original plan documents alongside 18 years of data and restoration success stories, and helps make visible CRITFC’s position as a thought-leader in ecosystem stewardship.

The website is really three sites in one, each representing a hefty volume in the Spirit of the Salmon Plan. The top navigation strip leads to the home pages of the three sites, and the lower strip serves as navigation within each of the sites. The first site is the 2013 update to the Spirit of the Salmon Plan, the second site is the original plan from 1995, and the third site is a subbasin-by-subbasin analysis.

CRITFC’s goal was to make the Spirit of the Salmon Plan documents available online in an approachable, interactive format, to make the information relevant and accessible to the general public. As the quote below demonstrates, salmon are the icon of the Northwest as they shape many of our policies, even for those people who may not actually eat them. We are all Salmon People, or Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum, and it’s important to understand the importance of salmon in our lives.

As CRITFC says,

In Sahaptin, the word for salmon used in sacred ceremonies is “wy-kan-ush.” Also in Sahaptin, the word “pum” means “people.” The tribal cultures in the Columbia River Basin could rightly be called Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum or “Salmon People” for how completely these sacred fish shaped their culture, diets, societies, and religions…Salmon have shaped the culture of the newcomers to this region just as they shaped tribal cultures before them. Salmon are the icon of this place. They are valued as food, as a resource, and as a representation of the wildness and wilderness for which the Pacific Northwest is known. They shape our land use policies and power grid. Whether they realize it or not, every single person in the Northwest is a Wy-Kan-Ush-Pum. We are all Salmon People. Let us all work together to protect and restore salmon—this fish that unites us.

Gray Family Foundation website launched

Blue Mouse Monkey is super-proud to announce the launch of a new website for the Gray Family Foundation. Founded by Oregon philanthropists John and Betty Gray, the Gray Family Foundation’s mission is to support outdoor and environmental education for children, in order to encourage a strong local land ethic, sustainable communities and stewardship of the natural environment. The effect is to build in young citizens a sense of place and responsibility toward Oregon.

This young organization wanted a website that would raise the bar for foundation websites.

Storytelling is built in to the structure, with sidebar modules that present changing statistics about the foundation’s giving history, student narratives about their outdoor education experiences, and a home page that gives the visitor an “at-a-glance” impression of the Foundation and its impact. Additionally, a structure has been laid for future dynamic functionality, such as an interactive map demonstrating the Foundation’s impact across the state of Oregon, due to be rolled out in 2014.

The new site is built in WordPress, and is easy for Gray Foundation staff to keep updated during their grant cycles. It’s also easy for the Foundation’s board members to log in to a private Board area to review current grant applications, view board meeting schedules and minutes, and get updates from the Foundation’s director. Additionally, the responsive design allows users to access data from mobile devices.

With stunning photographs of Oregon’s landscape by World as Light Photography, the design works hand in hand with the Gray Family’s mission to foster a love of the land.

Stay tuned for Phase 2 of the Gray Family Foundation website project: an interactive map section to be launched in 2014!

Battle of the Brands

Well, I imagine there must have been a battle, because major brands don’t usually acquiesce to this kind of thing.

Leavenworth, WA, the “Bavarian” town is remarkable (if for no other reason) in that the Leavenworth brand is apparently strong enough to dominate major national brands. Corporations must forgo their brand logos and fonts for something that “blends” with the rest of the town, in this case Wells Fargo bank.

Another instance of brand subservience: Bank of America.


The Starbucks brand relinquishing its visual identity in Leavenworth, WA.


Even Subway has to use a fancy “old fashioned” font, although they are allowed to keep the two-color aspect to their name. 

Anders Bjorling website launched

02_anders_bjorlingWe’re pleased the announce the launch of the website for Minnesota photographer Anders Bjorling. Anders travels the world to take beautiful shots in his native Sweden, as well as Iceland, Africa, the Galapagos, Ecuador, and elsewhere. The site was built with scalable portfolio pages, so with the CMS (content management system) in place, there is no limit to the number of images Anders can add.

A chance to play

Last weekend I had the opportunity to play outside. I guess I don’t get to do that much anymore, because it felt like an incredible treat. At home I can be outside in the garden in two modes: gardening, or relaxing. The relaxing thing happens rarely, and only for a half hour, tops, then I’m off doing something else. The gardening thing is good, but purposeful. There isn’t much pure play involved in weeding beds and harvesting vegetables.

img_0372But last weekend I stayed in a log house in the Hood Canal (which is really a fjord) with three other women. We were there to share creative solitude during the day, and friendship over dinner in the evenings. The others worked on writing projects, and I made art. I expected to write, too, but earlier, while cleaning out our basement, I found a bunch of leftover bits and pieces from grad school. Plaster casts of hands, rolls of colored string and cellophane, paper cut-out shapes. On impulse I decided to take this flotsam and jetsam of a period of intense art-making up to the Hood Canal to play around with it and see what happened.

At my friend’s place I chose to work in a small meadow next to an old shed. It was more like a clearing in the forest, and filled with buttercups and light slanting through the trees. I didn’t have any particular plans other than I’d make site-specific sculptures and leave them there. (Or dismantle and discard them in my host didn’t like them, but it turned out she did :-)

img_0434The first piece I made was inspired by sun hitting tendrils of tall grass in front of the shed. They made bright vertical lines of light against the dark background. I created a set of horizontal lines to complement, using embroidery thread. Keeping the tension in the thread was the hard part, since I couldn’t pull too hard on the grass stalks or they would snap.

Then I hung from a tree pieces from an installation I did years ago called The Myriad Things. Now the very cool thing I discovered, which I had never seen when this work hung in a gallery, was how it moved in the wind. Each strand has three collaged paper or glass vesica piscis shapes strung together with fine monofilament. Instead of flapping around like a wind chime, the shapes acted like paddles, and they spun in place. It created a beautiful floating, flickering effect, especially, when seen across the clearing. (Please excuse the crappy iphone video.)

img_0408Other pieces I made included burying gold foil under the duff so it glinted through, making the earth look golden. That one was hard to photograph. I also wrapped a sapling trunk in bands of gold foil, and placed plaster hands among the buttercups.


img_0416The other more visible piece I did was a large “cellophane fin”, made by wrapping colored cellophane across the delta-shaped spaces made by low, nearly horizontal maple limbs. The cellophane was left over from some 4-color printing process, with alternating magenta, cyan, yellow and black frames. The effect was like stained glass, but delicate and fragile, and in a tree.

I got to make a sculpture garden! It was the most satisfying thing I have done in a long time. I need to get out and play more often.*

* Bucket list:
1. Experience the Calabi-Yau in all ten dimensions
2. Play outside regualrly

Time flies…

Makara Beach, outside of Wellington, NZ

Makara Beach, outside of Wellington, NZ

…when you’re busy, then you go on vacation. We were in Hawaii and New Zealand for a couple of weeks, visiting relatives. It was lovely. We really should get back there more often. What was also lovely was that Blue Moue Monkey carried on in my absence. Now that we have a project manager (John Redder) and a studio manager (Sheliese Gieseke), stuff gets done even when I’m not there! I am so thrilled to have them both on board. And of course Jimmy Thomas, who strictly speaking isn’t part of Blue Mouse Monkey, but he does so much work for us he may as well be. Jimmy built the new Blue Mouse Monkey website while I was away. We’re putting the finishing touches on it and hope to launch it this week!

Austin Granger website launched

austin_granger2Austin Granger is a photographer and writer who has produced three books, and wanted us to create online versions of each of them. The challenge was to reproduce the books in web form in a way that preserved as much of the flavor of “book”, with its concomitant hierarchies of information, while maintaining good digital user interface and information design. The resulting triple-website presents nearly 400 photographs, along with Austin’s 9-chapter essay on Point Reyes. Check out the three books: Elegy from the Edge of a Continent: Photographing Point Reyes, Lights and Keepsakes, and Astoria.

Solid Ground Consulting Group website launched

solid-groundDecisions Decisions, a consulting group in Portland, needed a stand-alone website for their growing environmental consulting division. Solid Ground Consulting works with non-profits, foundations, and alliances that deal with land stewardship, conservation, affordable housing, historic protection, and environmental advocacy. The site’s content management system enables Solid Ground to respond quickly to changes in their team of advisors and consultants.


Port Orford from Humbug Mountain

Port Orford from Humbug Mountain

Back from a week in SW Oregon. The first two nights were in Port Orford (eponym of the Port Orford cedar). The weather sucked, and the seascape, which looked so pretty one sunny day we passed through some time ago, was now bleak.


However, we did climb nearby Humbug mountain (1700 foot elevation gain, 5.5 mi round trip), where the flora and fauna were impressively coastal and wild.

We then moved inland, dipping briefly into California and back up along the dam-free Smith River. The weather got warmer with each mile and soon we broke out into sunshine and the Indian summer that is blessing Oregon this year.

Darlingtonia Californica

Darlingtonia Californica

New Thing Learned: Darlingtonia Californica likes nutrient-poor bogs, and is often in the same location as Port Orford cedars, which, by the way, are suffering from an attack of an incurable fungus and are on the decline. (Another factoid: the straight-grained wood is used for coffins, shrines, arrows, and aircraft.) The darlingtonia is also known as the cobra lily, and is a carnivorous pitcher plant. First time I’ve ever seen a field full of carnivorous plants. The tallest were about 18″ high, and they were beautiful greens and reds.

Cantrell Buckley

Cantrell Buckley

Then we camped at the Cantrell-Buckley Park at the start of the Applegate Valley. Beautiful. And we practically had the madrone-forest campground to ourselves. Saw deer, a very cute feral cat (kitten, really) native snails, lizards, and Tom saw a fox and a skunk, in silhouette. (Their shadows cast on our tent.) But it still counts.

I didn’t take my laptop with me, nor any other electronic device except my phone. Tom had his laptop, but I refrained from getting online when we were at coffee shops in Ashland. It’s the longest I’ve gone without an Internet connection in years. And it was great.

Our camp in the madrone forest

Our camp in the madrone forest