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OWA May 7 Visioning Retreat

Newsletter | May/Jun 2011

Volume 39:3
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In this issue:
Summary: Healthy Alternatives for Interior Finishes & Materials - Susan Ahlstrom, new OWA member and AAU student

OWA Annual Westerbeke Retreat: 16 - 18 September 2011

by Janet Crane    |    Share #577

Join us for a weekend of stimulating conversation, art, music, recreation, swimming, hot tub, good eating and laughter!

By popular request, the theme of this year's retreat will be "Sustainable Places: Less is More", highlighting current thinking on sustainable design.

Topics will include:
  • New approaches to programming and preliminary design to reduce cost and save energy
  • Evaluating the benefits of sustainable design concepts from the client's perspective
  • Exploring designs with a variety of sustainable features by OWA members and others
  • Brief comparisons of sustainable rating systems

  • Jean Hansen has offered to reprise her excellent presentation at OWA's April meeting on "Healthy Alternatives for Interior Finishes and Materials" for those who have not yet heard it. This will be an optional event that will be in addition to the main programs.

    The retreat will be held at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma County from Friday late afternoon through Sunday lunch. We will post more details and a sign up form on this web site shortly and will e-mail that information to you also. Meanwhile, please call Janet Crane at 415 398 4094 or e-mail her at to reserve a place.

    more information is here

    Nominations Open for OWA 2012 Steering Committee

    by Leslie Golden    |    Share #581

    Time to get involved! We have a great group on the Steering Committee but we need more people to help achieve our goals.

    Anyone interested in helping to shape the direction of the Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals is urged to provide one paragraph bio, photo and a short statement of why you want to be on the Steering Committee by August 30th to be included in the September Newsletter. Elections will be held at the Oct 19th General Meeting.

    Questions about committee work, time commitment, and the nomination process, contact any steering committee member or Leslie Golden.

    Website Addition - Member Portfolio List

    by Bill Hocker    |    Share #570

    Thank you all for your contributions to the OWA portfolios. We are now placing more emphasis on the member portfolios with a main menu link to a new page showing all of the members who have portfolios on the site. Now the full variety of members' work can be found in one place with a direct link to your full portfolio.

    But we would really like even more of you to add your work. Your OWA portfolio is unlikely to replace your own website - but it will provide one more means of reaching your site. An OWA portfolio does allow those members without their own websites to display their work to the public .
    The OWA website may also never replace facebook for those of you that want to bare your souls to the world (although you do have your own OWA journal available), but your OWA portfolio might be used to show to the world a small bait of that interest in design that brings you to join an organization of designers. And it does help us show the world that a very talented group of people belong to the OWA.

    Though this is an organization of design professionals, the portfolio need not just represent professional output. In fact your interest in design may have little to do with the way you spend your working day. That "extraprofessional" design interest is also most welcome.

    For those that find putting stuff up on the internet a process fraught with uncertainty (or find my method of creating the portfolio a bit too quirky), I will be happy to help. You can always email photos or text and I will assemble them into your portfolio. You can email me here.

    June 7 Live Web Presentation at 6PM: Investments with Lisa Kleissner

    by Joanne Chow Winship    |    Share #576

    Tune into your computers and join live via webcast a discussion with OWA member and architect Lisa Kleissner as she shares how she is enabling social change and leveraging the capital markets.

    Lisa is the president of the KL Felicitas Foundation, a family foundation she co-founded with her husband, Charly, in 2000.

    Aligning your retirement account or other investment portfolio with your values is quite feasible today with the availability of many impact investing retail options. What is Impact Investing, why should you be interested and how you can apply it to your finances will be the topic of discussion. Lisa Kleissner will walk us through some global examples taking the concept from the abstract to the tangible. Even if you are not an investor, impact investing is an interesting use of capital that everyone should know about! In addition, Lisa will be sharing her work in India with social entrepreneurs with a focus on women.

    There is very limited space available at the Philanthropy Workshop West conference room where the presentation will be webcast. For those of you who would like to attend in person, reservations can be made on a first come-first serve basis for the 2 available spaces left by emailing The address is 201 California Street, Suite 630, San Francisco, CA 94111. Confirmation for attending will be sent to you.

    The presentation will be webcast live via Adobe Connect at 6 PM. For the visual presentation, you will need to log on at:
    When you click the link, select the "enter as a guest" option, type in your name, and you will be able to enter the room.
    For the audio portion of the presentation, you must call in to : 712-775-7100, using Conference ID: 712151
    This is through "". Each person calling in pays a pro rata share of the call or it might be free depending on your phone plan. If they skype in, it's free, but there may be background noise. Using a land or hard line is best. This is the first time we have attempted this technological feat, so bear with us if there are connection challenges.

    For those of you around the state and country, we hope you tune in!

    From her travels, Lisa sends in this link on "24 Rooms in 344 Square Feet"

    Visioning Retreat Focuses on What Makes OWA Vital

    by Joanne Chow Winship    |    Share #580

    May 7 Visioning Retreat in Lafayette

    Rene Yung leads OWA in mindmapping

    The May 7 Visioning Retreat was blessed by glorious weather, great ideas, good food, and beautiful surroundings. Thirty women gathered in Lafayette at Leslie Golden's home to explore the question of what makes OWA vital and viable? The lively discussion was facilitated by OWA member and civic engagement artist, Rene Yung. Rene led the group through a mind mapping exercise that resulted in the creation of energy pods focusing in 7 areas to promote OWA growth and vitality: Public Service; Business Development; Education: Media; Eco Village; Book Circle; and 40th Anniversary. The general membership is encourage to participate in one of these energy pods by contacting the pod coordinator listed. A brief area description of each follows after the pod's contact information.

    1. Public Service: Cami White,, 415-526-2939 and Rachel Slonicki,,510 704 0808
    The purpose for our public service interest group is to provide tangible support to the community surrounding the OWA and to increase visibility and awareness of OWA in our community. Our interest group proposes to develop three types of potential, public service types and solicits member comment, support, and participation:
  • Take action, volunteer, and participate with community partners on a public service project.
  • Tutor in a mentorship program and provide outreach to members of the community contemplating a career in design.
  • Provide design services for a project of interest to the OWA membership.

  • Participation and Potential Projects

    The public service interest group seeks members to volunteer to participate on our interest group, a proposed project, and to provide feed back, additional resources or ideas that we might explore as a design community:

    a. Public Service Project
  • Be a Community Partner with Kaiser Permanente, NBBJ, McCarthy Building Companies at Mosswood Park in Oakland California for National Facilities Services Volunteer Day on Friday, 26 August 2011, 8 am-3pm. Our goal is to have fifteen members sign up to volunteer. The work involves park cleanup, weeding, mulching, help sorting books for a library book drive,
  • Develop a project through Rebuilding Together for April 2012.
  • Leslie Golden has designed, pro bono, a playground for Building Bridges Child Development Center in Oakland. We'd like to explore the possibility of helping fund or build the playground.

  • b. Establish or participate in a mentor program:
  • ACE Mentor Program, Career Directions for High School Students in Architecture, Construction, and Engineering
  • Volunteer to teach a design skill at Cypress Mandela Training Center

  • c. Provide design services for a project to be determined.
    This topic can be explored further.

    2. Business Development: Shannon Devine,, 533-7332 and Eliza Hart,, 415-503-7071.
    A weekly business blog is started on the OWA Forum and focus will be on compiling a list of resources that are related to business development. These could be websites or tips or references to people.

    3. Education: Karlene Gullone,, 510-845-5786
    Focus will be on scholarships, internships and formalizing mentorships.

    4. Media: Leslie Golden,, 510-465-4030
    Goal: to advance the goals and activities of OWA in the media.
  • 15 minute OWA Historical Video: To cover the founding, current events and activities and he future of the OWA, to be shown at the 40th Anniversary and posted on web site in three video sections.
  • 3 minute OWA Video Add: Upbeat video, show casing the diversity of our membership, our activities and to encourage new members.
  • Promote Facebook and Linked in Opportunities
  • Press releases for Activities and possible pro bono work
  • Strategic Partnerships with other women organizations
  • Other ideas are welcome!

  • 5. Eco Village: Spring Friedlander,, 510-652-7600
    Those of us in the design and construction fields effectively manage the development of communities. Let us support one another in applying our skills, practices and resources to transform our existing micro-environments with a goal of lessening our carbon footprint and serving the environmental needs of humans and other living organisms. See the Ecovillage Network of the Americas - for more information.

    Let us work with one another to join our neighbors in weaving eco-villages where we live. The 100 year old urbanist mini- neighborhood that Spring F. lives in, Fairview Park, has begun to evolve as an Eco-village.

    Please join in forming an OWA eco-village focus group which could partner with others to build capacity and resilience for transition to a post-carbon future by supporting Fairview Park and other evolving eco-villages.

    6. Book Circle: Wendy Bertrand,, 415-648-2713
    My objective in creating the OWA Book Circle was to increase the organizational focus of how women and the design professions are meaningfully linked. Eight of us are starting to read our third book, Women and The Modern House by Alice T. Friedman. Author and historian Friedman highlights the fact that very exciting women were the clients of some of the most famous modern houses.

    2012 may see a continuation of the OWA Book Circle (with two books) if there is interest (group size 6-8). We look for books that explore or bring new insight to the vast interface of women and the design fields; women as architects, planners, clients, authors, , historians, educators, critics, users of spaces and places and so forth. All the books we read and discuss are available for loan, before being donated to design schools, to OWA members outside the Circle. If you are interested in borrowing a book or being in the next circle please email me at

    7. 40th Anniversary: Gilda Puente-Peters,, 510-526-6226
    Contact Gilda to the volunteer for the following events being planned:
  • Dinner Gala Party: Symposium / Reception at UC Berkeley
  • OWA 40th. Anniversary Commemorative Video
  • Trip oversees or US trip depending on the members interest
  • Participation in the Bay to Breakers run
  • Digital Exhibit of member's work that can be showed at the different events during the anniversary year.

  • Summary: Healthy Alternatives for Interior Finishes & Materials

    by Susan Ahlstrom, new OWA member and AAU student    |    Share #571

    Jean Hansen and students of Suzan Swabacker's design class at AAU

    Jean Hansen's April 19th presentation on Healthy Alternatives opened our eyes to the dangers of many materials and gave us a plethora of alternative materials to use that are safe for people and the environment, and sustainable. She showed us that materials and products are available and that use of these safer alternatives will encourage other manufacturers to move in the same direction.

    Instead of vinyl, or PVC, one of the world's largest sources of dioxin a human carcinogen, use one of several alternatives: polyurethane and nylon textiles, bio-based textiles using materials such as: bamboo, wool, and agri-composite materials like Kira, a PLA (polylactic acid) made from corn. Manufacturers offering healthy vinyl and PVC alternatives include: Teknion's Contessa chair, Trevira or Avora polyester cubicle curtains, Haworth's Zody chair, Maharam's Faux Sure textiles, Architex Int'l's RX 6004 fabric, Herman Miller's Kira PLA fabric, Lutron's shadecloth, Tandus Ethos modular carpet, Nora rubber flooring, Designtex topic color shadecloth, Forbo linoleum, and Carnegie Surface IQ wallcoverings and Xorel textiles.

    VOCs (volatile organic compounds) release gases, such as formaldehyde, toluene, benzene and isocyanates, into the air, affecting air quality and having a detrimental effect on people causing respiratory illness, cancer, and smog. VOCs are often found in finishes for wood and metal, and in composite wood products. To reduce VOCs use powder coatings rather than laminates and adhesives, use newer water based coatings that meet CA 01350 specification standards, and look for wood and metal finishes that are UV cured. Formaldehyde is used as a binder in composite wood products and beginning in 2009 had strict limitations of emissions set on it by the CA Air Resources Board phasing in those limitations over a three year period. Alternative products are FSC-certified wood for veneer and hardwood frames, substrates and composite woods. FSC-certified wood improves conservation by preventing over-foresting and deforestation, and by its credible system to identify well-manages forests.

    It's time to stop using materials that poison people and the environment because alternatives are readily available. Products are on and coming to market that are free of harmful toxins and their use will ensure that other manufacturers follow suit. A look at, an independent indoor air quality environmental institute that certifies products, lists many manufacturers that meet their standards; look under architects and designers, and then select the find products tab. Jean offered the following resources in her presentation:,,,, and

    OWA Scholarship Award, ACE Mentor Program

    by T. Rachel Slonicki    |    Share #573

    OWA Scholarship awardee Laura Reyes with Rachel Slonick and Cameron White

    On 21 May 2011, Mr. Myron Humeny, URS Corporation, ACE San Francisco Scholarship Chair and Mr. William Streit, Turner Construction, ACE San Francisco Bay Treasure presented an OWA scholarship award to Ms. Laura Reyes from George Washington High School at the Student Presentations and Scholarship Awards Program at City College of San Francisco. Ms. Cameron White, Ms. T. Rachel Slonicki, and Ms. Joanne Winship from our organization were in attendance. The Ace Mentor Program provides career directions for students in architecture, construction, and engineering. Ms. Reyes plans to study architecture and interior design at City College of San Francisco in the fall. We congratulate Ms. Reyes and wish her well exploring her career path at her new college. Members who would like to participate in the ACE Mentor Program next year should contact Cammie or Rachel.

    Gilda Puente-Peters: Accessibility Seminar - June 16th

    by Gilda Puente-Peters    |    Share #574

    Accessibility Seminar 2010 CBC Amendments & Overview of the 2010 ADA Standards

    Gilda Puente Peters Architects hosted by the City of El Cerrito is offering 5-hour training in a two part seminar to get updated on the latest Federal and State Accessibility Codes.

    Training Date: June 16, 2011
    Part I: 9:30 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m.
    Part II: 1:00 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m.
    Location: El Cerrito City Hall
    10890 San Pablo Avenue
    El Cerrito, CA 94530

    Registration Fee: $60 per session, $120 two sessions. Participants can attend Part I, Part II, or both.
    Deadline: Registration deadline is June 2, 2011

    For online registration, visit
    Contact: Gilda Puente-Peters/ T: 510 526 6226

    Architecture Firm Enjoys Aspen's Designation

    by Jamie Brewster McLeod    |    Share #575

    Jamie Brewster McLeod, architect

    From the Aspen Daily News Staff Report on Monday, March 14, 2011:

    "One of the strongest tangents of the Aspen real estate market are extremely high-end homes -- upwards of $15 million and above. Aspen-based Brewster McLeod Architects, Inc. is thrilled to be part of this real estate surge. This year, a 14,000-square-foot home designed by architect Jamie L. Brewster McLeod closed in Pyramid Point Estates.

    In addition, Brewster McLeod Architects, Inc. recently released drawings for an 11,900-square-foot home in a nearby subdivision that went under contract even prior to construction. Both designs have pushed Brewster McLeod Architects to reach beyond the conventional 'mountain home-style' to create projects that inspire worldwide attention."

    Leslie Allen Painting Show Reception - July 31

     Share #582

    Copyright 2011 Leslie Allen, Limantour Estero, Pt. Reyes, No. 2 (working title, 48" x 48" oil on canvas)

    OWA member Leslie Allen will host her painting show reception (and the only public viewing) Sunday afternoon, July 31 in Pt. Reyes Natl. Seashore, in the Red Barn Gallery near the Bear Valley Visitors Center. The show features large-format, atmospheric, realistic and ecologically complete scenes of Limantour Estero on Pt. Reyes. Contact Leslie at 415/ 380-9999 for hours, which are TBD.

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