Switchboard Will See Your Adventure Through

Our users turn to Switchboard to ask their communities for help planning everything from careers to nonprofit projects. Some of our favorite successes, though, are the adventures—road trips through the desert and moves to new jobs half-way across the globe

Sylvia is one such adventurer. The Wheelwomen Switchboard led Sylvia from Memphis to United Bicycle Institue's Bike School in Ashland, Oregon to take mechanics classes. Thanks to her experience at Bike School, Sylvia landed a job as an executive director of a bike shop in Memphis when she returned

Traveling to Ashland with her family, Sylvia needed some help along the way. We asked Sylvia to tell the story of how the Wheelwomen community saw her adventure through.

When did you start using Wheelwomen Switchboard?

I found Wheelwomen last March.

You used Wheelwomen Switchboard to find help while you were traveling. Could you share your story with us?

I've found the board extremely helpful. I love the information sharing and the chance to see job postings, questions, and info about what other women are up to in the bicycle world.

My big success was after my ask about going to Bike School. A woman in Portland reached out to me with the offer to borrow a bike. This was so helpful because I was shipping my bike from Memphis to Ashland, where I was attending Bike School. But my family and I (husband and 4- and 1-year old) were flying into Portland. We were purchasing an Xtracycle Edgerunner, in Portland, for my husband and the kids to ride. And then wanted to spend a couple of days exploring the bike-friendly city of Portland, before heading south.

But I needed a bike for those days. So, Helen McConnell, a Wheelwomen member, offered to loan me a bike. She brought it to me and picked it up. And she proved infinitely helpful when we realized that we had no way to get the Xtracycle from Portland to Ashland. We were renting a minivan, and my in-laws were flying in to drive down with us. We naively, I guess, thought the bike would fit inside the minivan with all of us. Helen contacted a bunch of friends and found us a bike rack to borrow and helped us attached it to the minivan.

All of this was made possible, thanks to Wheelwomen Switchboard and an excessively nice person in Helen!

Would you recommend Wheelwomen Switchboard to your friends?

I have and will continue to! In fact, I am now the director of a community shop in Memphis, and I'm changing out our links page on the website to have Wheelwomen as a top recommendation!

Watching the Pulse of the Portland Tech Community on PDX Startups Switchboard

With over 1,500 users and 1,000 asks and offers, PDX Startups Switchboard has become a mainstay of the Portland tech scene. PDX Startups users have logged dozens of success—from giving away free legal advice to finding jobs—and many have made visiting the Switchboard part of their daily routine. Today we bring you the story of Mason, who uses PDX Startups Switchboard to find collaborators and jobs and watch the pulse of the Portland tech community.

Why do you use PDX Startups Switchboard?

I initially started visiting PDX Startups as another daily pulse-check on the Portland tech scene, in addition to Silicon Florist and Calagator. Aside from the simple enjoyment of seeing what everyone is asking and offering, I specifically keep an eye out for potential work and collaboration opportunities.

You've had success on Switchboard a few times. Could you share a story or two?

I’ve sought career advice, work, and collaboration opportunities on Switchboard. Each time, I’ve been met with encouragement and useful input, even if my intended goal wasn’t met. (Protip: I’ve found late success with an old ask, after mentioning and linking to it in a new ask.) Something beneficial has come out of each post I’ve made to PDX Startups. I’ve gone on to meet with a handful of people I initially connected with via Switchboard, some of which have turned into professional connections, and a couple that I am also now glad to call friends.

After sending a resume into a local company, I saw a post that one of their engineers made to PDX Startups. I sent him a direct message on Switchboard, regarding my interest. When they did get back to me—to schedule an interview—it was in reply to the message I had sent him!

Would you recommend PDX Startups Switchboard to friends?

Absolutely! In fact, I already have. After seeing a couple of asks regarding WordPress development, I forwarded the links to a friend and WordPress developer. I believe he found new clients in both cases, and I’ve also seen him active and making asks and offers on PDX Startups Switchboard since. I always keep in mind what I’ve seen come up on PDX Startups Switchboard, and I frequently find an opportunity to tell someone about an ask or offer that would interest them.

In general, I often recommend it as the most direct way to engage and observe Portland tech culture’s opportunities and needs.

Portland Mercado Asks—and Receives

It might seem odd that Portland, a city with 600,000 residents, ten percent of whom identify as hispanic or Latino, doesn’t have a single Latino public market to speak of. It certainly did to Hacienda Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit that serves the Latino community in Portland by providing affordable housing, home ownership support, and opportunities for education and economic advancement.

Where Hacienda CDC saw a gap, they also saw an opportunity.

They started the Portland Mercado as an incubator for local businesses and community hub. Set to open this spring, the Mercado will bring the community together around food, art, and entertainment and provide affordable retail space for businesses to launch and grow. Jamie at Hacienda CDC says the Mercado’s prospects are bright. "The process of developing a physical place where cultures can come together and transform our social and economic landscape has already been a rewarding experience, and it's exciting to imagine how we will all be influenced by embracing and leveraging diversity to promote equity."

The Mercado needed to find a business that would sell locally and sustainably raised meat at the market, so Jamie posted an offer for the opportunity on the Portland Meat Collectives Switchboard. "We received a couple of good inquiries and got in touch with the founder, Camas Davis, who was open to sharing her extensive knowledge,” Jamie says. Thanks to the Meat Collectives Switchboard and the help of its founder, Camas, the Portland Mercado is one step closer to offering local meat.

Finding a variety of businesses to fill the space and participate in the incubator program has been a challenge, Jamie says. "Eventually, we have been able to find a combination of what we were looking for, but it definitely took awhile. Thankfully, the Switchboard helped us with the process.”

Switchboard works because, like the Mercado, it brings communities together to solve problems on their own terms. Our communities won't run out of obstacles anytime soon, but, with Switchboard, they rest safe knowing they can ask for help. "A development like this is new territory for Hacienda CDC, and we always have our challenges, but nothing that doesn't pass without a creative solution," Jamie says.