Artist Profile: Aaron Brethorst

This spring and early summer, we are thrilled to feature photographs from member Aaron Brethorst on our downstairs walls. Aaron has been a member at Office Nomads on-again-off-again since 2010 and this is his very first show at our space. We recently sat down with Aaron to talk about art, photography, and his projects.

There are so many ways we can express ourselves through art. What attracts you to photography as an artistic expression?

I was originally attracted to photography because it offered a way to ‘geek out’ on the more technical aspects of the craft. Although I told myself that digital photography would be a great way to spend more time outside, I still found myself in front of my computer quite a bit. Since then, my connection to the medium has become far deeper both because of the supportive community I have found at Photographic Center Northwest here in Seattle and also because of my greater awareness of the history of the medium. Also, I cannot draw to save my life.

Tell us more about “Liminal Points” – the series you’ll feature at Office Nomads. Where did the idea come from?

Liminal Points is a project that emerged from walking around Seattle while daydreaming. As I would walk past a door or entryway, I would try to imagine all of the possibilities contained behind it. Some of the images in this series are straightforward: either you can see right through the door frame, or the contents are literally advertised to you. In other cases, what exists behind the door can be as mundane or exciting as your imagination can allow.

On your website you mention a project that may bring together photos of Seattle as it goes through this time of great change we’re currently in, including the gentrification of many Seattle neighborhoods. Is that something you are still working on?

Yes, I am indeed still working on this project. The subject is near and dear to my heart, especially given that I see myself as being a part of the problem. When I first moved to Capitol Hill on Halloween, October 31, 2005, I paid barely $1,000 per month for a beautiful apartment in a building practically exploding with charm. I don’t imagine that many such places still exist—at least not at such a price point—and yet I continue paying whatever absurd rent increases are asked of me, thus pricing out all of the people who formed the neighborhood milieu that originally attracted me to it.

I have a number of ideas about how to tackle this project, which range from the somewhat mundane (photographic prints hanging on a wall) to the more extravagant yet accessible (a crowdsourced, augmented reality app for your iPhone). I hope to land nearer to the ‘extravagant’ end of this project given that I feel like my skill set seems to point in this direction. More soon on this topic, I hope.

What (or who) inspires your work? What photographers do you really admire who we should know about?

There are many photographers who inspire my work. Probably the best-known influences for my upcoming work are Larry Sultan and Alec Soth, but there are dozens of other people who inspire, challenge, and provoke me on a daily basis. You can find all of these folks in the darkroom or digital labs, and taking classes at Photographic Center Northwest, or PCNW, up on 12th and Marion. I cannot recommend highly enough the value of taking just one class at this institution. You might cringe at the idea of paying $700 for an adult education photography class, but I can assure you that the positive impact to your work will be far greater than the lens or new camera you might have purchased instead.

If you’re not ready to sign up for a class, no worries, I totally understand. Swing by, check out the gallery, and maybe register for a weekend crash course in film photography instead. A capable, friendly instructor will help you walk through the process of shooting a roll of film, developing it, and even making a black-and-white gelatin silver print in the darkroom.

And now for the really tough, deep question. What is your camera of choice?

It depends! When I want to be ‘practical’ (ugh), and need to quickly turn around work, I use a Fuji X-Pro2 digital rangefinder. But I love film and have as many cameras as there are days of the week. I have tried to limit myself to one film camera per category, but this has been proving difficult as of late. Here’s my current lineup:

35mm Rangefinder: Leica M6
35mm SLR: Canon 3

Medium Format Rangefinder: Bronica RF645
Medium Format SLR: Hasselblad 501CM

Large Format Field Camera: Shen Hao HZX-45 4×5″
Large Format Technical Camera: Linhof Technika III 4×5″

What is my favorite film is possibly a more interesting question! I love shooting with different film stocks depending on the format. With 35mm, I love working with a cinema film stock called Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X, which has been used to shoot literally thousands of movies over the past fifty years. Here’s one example of a photograph that I’ve made with 5222.

When I’m shooting my Bronica, I will normally use Kodak’s Tri-X 400 black and white film, which has been a mainstay of the black and white film world for decades. Here’s an example of the pair.

With my Hasselblad, I used to shoot Fujifilm’s Acros 100 black and white film, but it was recently announced that Acros has been discontinued. Fuji seems intent on destroying their film legacy to focus on their X-series digital cameras (yay, I guess), and their InstaX instant film cameras. Acros was a beautiful film, and I will be sad to see it go. This is a scan I made of an 8×10″ wet print with Acros in the darkroom.


Our deepest thanks to Aaron for taking the time to share his photography and his thoughts with us! Come on by to check out Aaron’s work at our Spring Open House on Wednesday, May 16th from 5-8pm. Details and RSVP here.

Member Profile: Margo Reich

We are so excited to introduce you to Margo Reich! Margo has been a part of the Office Nomads family ever since we got started, and became a member a couple of years ago.

Hi Margo! What are you working on?

I finished up yet another busy tax season, and I’m taking the next steps towards retirement!

What brought you to Office Nomads?

I came to Office Nomads to transition from full-time work as a CPA to semi-retirement with fewer clients, fewer tasks and time to grow old gracefully. I moved out of my own office a few years ago and made Office Nomads my office when I need it.

What led you to become a CPA?

It’s a second career for me, actually. I was an administrator for a local university and I felt like I got painted into a corner as both a female and a non-academic. There wasn’t a clear way for me to progress in a career there. Instead of just changing jobs, I thought about what I was good at and realized I was good at understanding the story behind numbers. I took a couple of accounting classes and it all just quickly made sense to me. It fit my brain so well, and I looked no further! I decided it was time to become an accountant and start my own practice.

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I co-own a 10” Dobsonian, azimuth-mounted, Newtonian scope without a “go-to” named Big Blue with my brother. I have a fondness for tracking down global clusters.

Tell us more about how you got into astronomy.

I’ve always been interested in low-level physical sciences. Astronomy is where all the big questions are being asked about the physical world. It’s also an excuse to search for dark skies (places that don’t have any light pollution) – most of us don’t even know what those are anymore. Getting out with my scope is a great excuse to go camping for a week! I usually head to Central Oregon – remote and lots of opportunities to find those dark skies.

What do you enjoy doing other than work when you’re at Office Nomads?

I enjoy the seasonal open houses and art walks, and I’ve learned a lot from participating in Cotivation. And the Annual Christmas/Holiday/December potluck is the best daytime party ever.


We agree, Margo! We’re already looking forward to the 2017 edition. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, and thanks to Marti Rhea for snapping the great photos of Margo way back in February (when there still were Pronto bikes in Seattle)! Until next time…


Member Profile: Timothy Thomas

Today we are pleased to introduce you to Timothy Thomas, who came to us…well, you should just read the story about what brought him to Office Nomads. And one quick explanation: we snapped these photos back in February while making valentines for both our elected officials and loved ones. 🙂 Enjoy!

Tell us about what brought you to Office Nomads.

I joined because I needed to go to the bathroom while I was on the Hill. My girlfriend Susan had been part of ON for a while and kept encouraging me to join. I decided to address a pressing issue and an underlying issue at the same time. No regrets and nice bathrooms!

That’s a first for us! So, what are you working on right now?

Helping business people transform their lives and businesses. This is showing up in two ways right now – the first is through my work as a certified coach and the second is through search engine optimization and marketing.

What are you passionate about?

Language and how we use it to describe our world and in our interactions with other people. It has been a part of how I see the world since I was a young person, and in my twenties (with the help of the Internet) I got turned onto how language affects our bodies and environment. In coaching, a key area for personal growth for clients is often around how they describe themselves and their experiences.

For me, even if I am not always 100% successful at it, is that being mindful and aware of what is said, how it is said, and the context in which those words are said define our reality. If we are distinct about what we say, we can transform the world. Change our words, change our meanings, change our lives.

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

Back in 2000 I got upset about a major change in my work environment which I continually described as “breaking my heart.” One day really bad news came from work and in my ensuing panic attack my heart went into an arrhythmia that put me in the hospital. For a while it looked like there would need to be a major intervention with the electro-shock paddles, but when I let go of the idea of being in a “heart breaking situation” my heart went back into a normal pattern (to the surprise of the attending physician and my gathered family members). My unconsidered thoughts had a big impact on what was occurring in my life and I set out on a mission to learn more about that.

That is a powerful story. Speaking of getting away from work, what was the last place you went to for fun?

The last place Susan and I went was a BIG house overlooking Sebastopol, CA. It was an un-updated 90’s dream home built by a couple to throw huge family gatherings and obviously as a place to share with their grandkids. We sat by the pool and experienced the place as we tracked raptors hunting small game in the surrounding hills. It was relaxing and poignant at the same time because it represented something joyful that was fading with time.


Thanks so much to Tim for sharing some of himself with us for our latest Member Profile! And big thanks to Marti Rhea for capturing these great images of Tim. Stay tuned for more Member Profiles coming soon!


Member Profile: Cassandra Overby

It gives us great pleasure to introduce you to Cassandra Overby! Cassandra joined us in mid-2016 and jumped into the mix right away. These days you can find her hosting monthly Writers Lunch sessions at the office, and she’s currently a part of our great team of Community Cultivators. We hope you’ll enjoy reading a bit more about her!

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about hiking (I always seek out hills when I’m stressed) and country dancing (especially the two step and cowboy cha-cha) and traveling (especially in Germany and France). But I don’t like to travel just to see new things. I want travel to change me; I want it to make me a better person. And I love helping other people approach their travels the same way.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on several things! I am writing a book for Mountaineers Books called “Exploring Europe on Foot,” which is expected to hit bookstores in August 2018. I also freelance for magazines—my specialty is active travel stories. And I edit for magazines and companies as well.

What brought you to Office Nomads?

I came to Office Nomads because I was going crazy at home. There was no one to talk to and I was driven nearly crazy by loneliness. I knew I had to do something to get regular interaction. I did some research on coworking spots and ended up at Office Nomads—I knew right away that it was the right place for me. It was a gut feeling. I love how friendly everyone is and how it really is a community. I look forward to coming in and having people to talk to—people that I know.

Got a fun Office Nomads story to share with us?

Jacob came in one morning with clappers that he found outside (you know, the “clap on, clap off” lights!). He asked if anyone wanted them and I was stoked—I’d just been talking about getting a couple the week before. Talk about serendipity!

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I was named after a heroine (a CEO, of all things) in a romance novel that my mom read when she was pregnant with me.


Thanks so much for sharing some of your story with us, Cassandra! We’re so lucky to have you as a part of our coworking family. You can learn more about Cassandra’s work here on her website. Thanks again to Marti Rhea for taking these great photos. Stay tuned for more!

Member Profile: Juan Valera

Fresh off the press – we’re happy to introduce you to another member of the Office Nomads coworking community: Juan Valera!

What was your first job?

My very first job was an internship at a web design agency. I was miles outside my comfort zone, and terrified/ecstatic about everything. I’ve managed to keep that state of mind for the most part.

Is that a good thing?

Not always. Actually, I’d wager that most of the time it’s not a good thing. It gets in the way of my productivity. But the ecstatic part, that’s just who I am – I’m passionate about what I advocate for and what I know and wish for.

What are you working on right now?

I’m doing research on a client’s market to inform user testing. (If you know research or user experience testing, let’s talk!)

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I’m afraid of warewolves. Seriously.

Why are you a member of Office Nomads?

The community, hands down. There’s something about ON that makes you feel instantly at home. A combination of authentic people, all sorts of different work, awesome events, and the occasional dog petting opportunities sold me.

What events have you participated in at ON?

I joined in for a round of Cotivation, because motivation for projects isn’t always easy to come by. I quickly learned that my fellow Nomads have some great ideas! I volunteered with a bunch of other members at Northwest Harvest, a WA hunger relief organization in December. And does Thursday Snack count? I participate because snacks.


Thanks for sharing with us, Juan! We’re so glad you’re a part of our coworking community on Capitol Hill! If you want to keep tabs on what Juan is up to, be sure to follow him on Twitter. Thanks so much to Marti Rhea for snapping photos of Juan and all of our other members for these fun profiles. We’ll be back with another profile soon!

Member Profile: Kevin Owyang

Kevin Owyang has been a fixture at Office Nomads for years now and we couldn’t be happier about it. We’re so pleased to introduce you to this delightful member of our coworking community here on Capitol Hill! Without further ado, meet Kevin:

What are you passionate about?

My dog Harley, adventure, and risk. I performed under Leonard Bernstein, ran a financial trading floor with $3 Billion in revenue, heli-snowboarded the Chugach range of Alaska, graduated from MIT, performed with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was commissioned to create a documentary for a Smithsonian Affiliate.

That’s quite a spread of experiences! What brought you to Seattle?

I was coming out here for a client, an early stage manufacturing company that was eventually sold. They were making trucks more environmentally friendly. At the same time I was looking for a change – I wanted to move back into the city. One thing led to another and here I am!

What are you working on right now?

I’m directing some commercial videos for Amazon Webs Services (AWS). It’s cool because I get to help engineers break out of their mould and imagine the future of computing in ways that impact everyday people. It’s been great to see them receptive to the creative video storytelling process. I get to practice my art for a living.

How did you get into film?

About 3 or 4 years ago I wasn’t in video or film. But one day an Office Nomads member – Chris Hammersley – was making a film for SIFF. He sent out an email asking if people wanted to help and I thought it sounded like fun. And that’s how I got started in video and film! Basically, Office Nomads helped me find a new career I love, when I had no idea this is where my calling would lie.

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

My faith. That’s not to say I’m a goody-goody or that I look down on others who don’t share my faith. But it’s faith the helps me know that should I fail, if I’m destined to fail, as long as I have a relationship with God, everything’s ok. And that’s freeing for me.


You can check out Kevin’s website to keep tabs on what he’s up to, or to contact him about a project. Big thanks as always to Marti Rhea for taking photos of our members to share with you all!

Member Profile: James Gaines

Introducing James Gaines – writer, traveler, and all-around fascinating person to fall into a conversation with.


What are you passionate about?

I like stories about how people interact with the world. Did you know there are Russian mammoth pirates? I’m passionate about writing about Russian mammoth pirates.

Sorry, what?

So a while back I worked on an article with this photographer, Amos Chapple. He works out of Europe and does some amazing stuff. As I was wrapping up that first article, he mentioned that he had just finished an expedition out to northern Russia and had pictures. Turns out China’s ivory ban has created a huge market for mammoth ivory. That in and of itself isn’t too bad, but the way these tusk hunters are working is incredibly destructive and illegal. Chapple persuaded them to let him photograph their work and it’s pretty amazing. I’m fascinated by stories like that, and I get the opportunity to tell them. [Our note: you should check out the article. It’s incredible.]

So what are you working on right now?

Actually I just got back from a much-needed vacation. It was good. Relaxing. It’s a bit weird taking vacation to somewhere I used to live (London). I didn’t end up doing much tourist stuff, mostly just hung out with friends and visited old haunts. I did go to some of the big museums as well. They’re all free admission, which is nice. You can just wander in for five or ten minutes to hit up the Van Gogh’s, for example, without feeling pressure to see other stuff as well.


What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I grew up in a cabin in the woods.

I bet there were great and not-so-great parts about that.

It wasn’t always great. It was hard to see other people, which made for a very lonely childhood. On the other hand, I got to spend a lot of time out in the woods. I spent a lot of time making little clubhouses or wandering around old deer trails. And the spot that I grew up in butted up against a wild game preserve, so I got to peek across a fence and see ostrich and zebra. That was pretty cool.

Where do you get your quick wit and dry sense of humor?

Probably from being a little messed up in the head.


Being a little messed up in the head is what makes us all more interesting. Or so we think! Thanks, James, for taking the time to share a bit more about yourself with us. Head to James’ Upworthy page to find more of his articles, or head here to follow him on Twitter. Thanks as always to Marti Rhea for capturing James in the space. Stay tuned for more!

Member Profile: Elyse Gordon

We are excited to introduce you Elyse Gordon, another fantastic member of our coworking community here on Capitol Hill!


What are you passionate about?

I’m a connecter and community builder. I bring people together, and I’m passionate about engaging folks through meaningful connection, critical thinking, and food. I believe strongly that change occurs through relationships – so my work is to create the foundations and spaces for meaningful relationships to form. I’m committed to a social justice and equity lens in all that I do.

I am also passionate about grassroots philanthropy. I want everyone to feel invested in stretching themselves, and ideally, I hope they do so in a way that directs resources to communities most impacted by oppression and marginalization. It’s only one piece, but to me it is a vital component to long-term social change. (And if you’re not already following, and you’re interested in social change, please sign up for Vu’s weekly newsletter.)

What are you working on right now?

I wear a LOT of hats. I’m in the final year of my dissertation at the University of Washington in the Geography department – I study the relationship between “social justice philanthropy” and poverty. In other words, I’m curious about how an alternative form of philanthropy, one that sees itself as the most radical and progressive form out there, conceptualizes and acts upon impoverishment. I’m most intrigued by how this impacts the individuals who actually participate as donors. I *don’t* love academic writing, and so writing the dissertation is a bit like pulling teeth! Every page a victory…

I’m far more excited about my teaching role at UW Bothell. I teach a range of classes in the school of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. I *love* my students and the enthusiasm they bring to learning. My students are highly engaged, have a huge range of life experiences and backgrounds, and always push me to see things differently.

And… I’m also a day-of wedding coordinator! I love helping couples be present to the celebrations and community they’ve gathered. Effectively, I’m the “executive producer” or stage manager for the wedding. It is such fun work, and a nice complement to the academic world I occupy most of the time.


Do you have a fun story to share from your time at Office Nomads?

When I was workshopping a potential business idea a few years ago, Susan recommended I meet with her friend Lori. So, she introduced us, and Lori and I played email tag for a while. Finally, we met up in May of 2014, right before I took off to Amsterdam. Lori had loosely mentioned the house she rented out in the Central District neighborhood, and that I should check it out before I went because they hosted coworking too! Well, I was immediately besotted with the space.

When I returned from my travels, I was looking for housing. Moments before signing my lease agreement with a too-expensive-apartment, Lori emailed me to say a space was opening in her house, and did I want it? Lo and behold, in October 2014 I moved into Collective Self and ended up running the coworking community that also gathered in that space. I’ve never so immediately felt at home in a space – I’ll miss that house for a long time!

What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

I’m on the young professionals board of I believe in a well-informed public, and am eager to help diversify the audience of one of the NW’s most dynamic nonprofit journalism sources. Also, shoutout to South Seattle Emerald. If I had my way, everyone would support these two + KNKX and KEXP! Goooo public media!



Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Elyse!

You can read more about Elyse’s academic work on her website, or if you’re in the market for a day-of wedding coordinator, head here.

Thanks so much to Marti Rhea for capturing Elyse so wonderfully on camera!

Member Profile: Tyler LePard

We’re going to keep this introduction short and sweet: we’re thrilled to introduce you to Tyler LePard, creator of Wondershop Communications and all-around kick-ass individual.


What are you passionate about?

Doing good – locally, nationally, and globally – drives my work. I care about many issues related to social justice and fighting poverty, but advocating for women’s health and rights as been the main thread throughout my career. After college, I worked as a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood in Portland, then helped launch a reproductive health online publication (now called Rewire) after graduate school. I went on to do media and communications for international family planning and HIV prevention at a small nonprofit, then global health at a big foundation. I helped launch a new crowdfunding platform for girls’ and women’s equality for a couple of years before I decided to start my own independent consulting business.

I believe in the power of people working together, which is the essence of organizing, activism, social media, and coworking.

What are you working on right now?

I’m managing social media and digital ads for a new campaign from the Pride Foundation that I’m excited about. TRANSform Washington is a public education initiative celebrating the dignity, diversity, and humanity of transgender and gender nonconforming people in our state. The campaign has a lot of great stories from transgender people who are community volunteers, retirees, medical professionals, family members, and more. I’ve always felt strongly about social justice issues, so it’s fun to be able to blend my work and activism in this way.

Actually, I found this work through Office Nomads (Jacob and Katie connected me with their friend, who hired me). And another nomad (Kevin Owyang) built the website!

How did you get to where you are now?

I’ve worked some random jobs in my life (pizza delivery woman, grain elevator operator, White House intern, labor union organizer) and for a long time it didn’t seem like I was on a career path. I hate being asked where I see myself in five years because that hasn’t been how my career has evolved. (I also hate the question “What do you do?” as though my job is my life, but thankfully that doesn’t come up in Seattle as often as it did in DC.) I do like to occasionally sit down and map out dreams, big ideas, and potential directions for my life, and believe in the power of putting things out into the universe. But I also think being able to take the leap for unexpected opportunities has been what’s brought me to where I am now.

Freelancing has been great and terrible. It is stressful to not have financial stability (yet), but I do love the flexible schedule and ability to work with different people on interesting projects that I care about. And, of course, I love coworking. Thankfully, my wife has a steady job and has been incredibly supportive.


Why coworking?

I appreciate the community at Office Nomads — that’s what keeps me coming back. It’s not just a nice space to work, though I like the free coffee and wifi, access to a printer/copier, snacks, etc. I didn’t realize that I was looking for and needed this network of people that I could bounce ideas off of, ask questions about freelancing and taxes, or know who to refer a client to for help building a website. Nomads are the best resources! I’ve found clients, a financial planner, an accountant, a hiking buddy, and friends here.

I also appreciate the programming — Waffle Wednesdays, Thursday afternoon snacks, field trips to interesting places, Spanish conversation lunch, and meditation are a few of my faves (yes, I like food). Some weeks I plan which days I’m going to come in around what’s on the calendar.

It’s terrific that Office Nomads is dog-friendly, even though I don’t bring my dogs in (they aren’t well-behaved enough). It makes me feel at home that I can go cuddle a dog when I need a break from my computer.

What is one thing about you most people don’t know?

I have a green belt in kajukenbo. I have been training for more than five years at Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu, which is another wonderful community that I love. I enjoy learning new things and getting exercise that is also a ton of fun. This year I’ve been learning to teach kung fu and I’m delighted to share my love of martial arts with new students.

I think it’s important for everyone to learn self-defense and I encourage everyone I know to take at least one class.


Thank you Tyler for sharing your story with us and for being such an awesome part of our coworking community. Thanks also to Marti Rhea for sharing these beautiful member photos with us! Stay tuned for more…

Member Profile: Dana Twight

Back in 2012 Dana Twight was listening to KUOW (one of Seattle’s public radio stations) and heard Jacob being interviewed about coworking in Seattle. She had recently transitioned to being an independent financial planner and had been working from home for nearly a year. “I can’t believe I’d never heard of coworking before 2012!” she exclaimed. Shortly thereafter she came into Office Nomads and the rest is history. Anyone who has worked at Office Nomads since 2012 has likely met Dana – she’s been an enthusiastic member since day one and is always up for a chat about travel, politics, sports or finances. We are excited to introduce you to the fabulous Dana Twight!


What is one thing about you most people don’t know?

How about a few things? I climbed Little Tahoma and Mt. Baker at age 15. I’ve marched in a national marching band in the Rose Bowl parade. I’ve given a speech in the WA State Capitol Rotunda. And my first time on the radio was was on a KISW FM show called “Your Mother Won’t Like it,” where listeners brought in their own records. The guy who spun the records for me was long-time Seattle DJ Steve Slaton.

What are you passionate about?

Financial education, political and civic engagement, and reading. Oh and public speaking.


Why are you a member at Office Nomads?

I’ve stayed a member of Office Nomads for the community, the conference rooms, monthly activities, and the laughter! Some of my most successful events and best afternoons laughing have been here.

What events have you participated in at Office Nomads?

I appreciate Work Sprints for the focused quiet time. After working in Germany for 87 days in 2015, I am happy to practice my German conversation skills at German Happy Hour! And I love the Community Cultivator program as a way to contribute (among other things I’m in charge of keeping the office plants alive) and to be a coworking evangelist.


What was the last place you traveled to for fun?

I recently went to North Carolina to see my daughter in Raleigh. NC is a beautiful state with a rich progressive history, despite recent events. Go for the history and the food, stay for the friendliness.


Big thanks to Dana for sharing some of her story with us, and of course to Marti Rhea for capturing Dana in these wonderful photos! You can check out more about Dana on her website, her blog, and on Nerd Wallet. Stay tuned for more…