LeAnn Locher is a force for good in this world. She’s a blogger, foodie, master gardener, gardening columnist and podcaster. And yet as fabulous as she is at doing all of that, it’s her client work that truly makes her shine. LeAnn is passionate about her work. Her communication and design firm, LeAnn Locher & Associates, works with clients who make a difference, including nonprofit organizations, public agencies and socially responsible businesses. LeAnn resides in Portland, Oregon with her partner, Adela, and their adorable dog, Wink. She’s a smart and interesting woman and I know you’re going to enjoy hearing what she has to say.
1. One of my favorite lines on the “About us” page on your website is, “I’m a storyteller at heart and I believe that a well-crafted story can make a difference in the world.” What was your first awakening to the notion of storytelling as change agent?
Early on in the cause marketing movement I met a marketing executive whose card read “storyteller” as her job title. And it dawned on me that the simplicity, at its core, of what we do in social cause work is the secret. When we simply tell our story, in all of its honesty, there need be no spin. Telling your story opens up others to see themselves in your story alongside you, to volunteer, to give, to participate, to help, and all of my clients strive to do that with their audiences. Storytelling is a vehicle to share personal emotions and impacts, and when crafted and told well, is like magic. It’s because of this my clients tell me “you really get it.” I simply help them tell their story.
2. Recently you helped launch a fantastic new website, National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. The project was funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What kinds of resources will the site offer?
We’re still in the development stage for many of the tools, but one of the first areas of focus will be providing support for caregivers. Many members of the LGBT aging community are cared for by friends, family members, etc. who may not have support themselves. Best practices for caregiving, how to find caregiver support in your area, and resources on topics ranging from cultural competency to mental health to spirituality will be available via the new website. In addition, information and resources for financial assistance, housing, and living with HIV will play a large role in the many publications and multimedia that will be available. The Resource Center will also offer training and technical assistance to providers of aging services and LGBT organizations to ensure that they have the tools and knowledge to meet the most pressing needs of LGBT older adults.
3. Your blog, Lelo in Nopo, is one of my happy places online. It’s filled with beautiful photographs and stories about your gardening and food adventures. I love to read about your food preserving and crafting projects. Can you suggest a simple food crafting project for people like me who aren’t very skilled in the kitchen? (Note to readers: Check LeAnn’s blog sidebar for links to great recipes!)
Thank you for your kind words! I have two for you….
If you love a good salad, try crafting your own flavored vinegars. Steeped in fruit and herbs, the vinegar is perfect for mixing with a little olive oil for flavorful homemade dressings that aren’t chock full of preservatives like so many store-bought salad dressings are. My favorite is blueberry basil, and strawberry vinegar is tasty, too. Here are the directions and inspiration to get you going:
If you can peel lemons and pour booze you can make limoncello! Such a fun project to do this time of year when citrus is in massive abundance from my home state of California: the scent emersion it provides for us in the Northern areas of the country is a nice jolt out of our winter blahs, and because it has to age, while you make it you can dream of the warm summertime parties where you’ll be sipping this with friends.
4. In 2010 you began a weekly podcast, Lelo Homemade. What have you enjoyed most about podcasting?
I just have a love of learning new tricks, and audio has been a lot of fun, and challenging. I love interviewing people, so to record our conversations and have an excuse to talk to smart and wonderful people is a bonus! It’s the same kind of content I write or blog about, but rendered in a different way. I find it fascinating.
5. You write a gardening column, Sassy Gardener, for Oregon’s statewide LGBT print magazine, Just Out, and you’re an OSU Extension Master Gardener. What are some of the particular challenges that Pacific Northwest gardeners face?
Slugs and soggy bottoms. Which do you want to hear about first? Okay, so slugs are notorious here, and come with the territory of wet cool weather. If you have them bad, they’ll take out an entire plant overnight. I’ve known gardeners to hunt for them at night with a miner’s lamp on their head. I just throw them in the street if I find them. I mean, I’ve heard you can throw them in the street if you find them. J As for soggy bottoms, that’s in reference to boggy areas that aren’t well drained. We actually have Mediterranean-like summers here, and many of the same plants that grow in the Mediterranean grow well here, except you have to make sure their roots don’t sit in water and are situated in well-drained areas. Root rot will kill plants just as much as a cold snap. Just say no to soggy bottoms.
6. I know you’ve been watching IFC’s new series, Portlandia, which delightfully skewers 1990’s Portland. Can you share one of your own favorite only-in-Portland moments?
There’s a woman who walks her goats in my urban North Portland neighborhood, does that count? Also, the feminist bookstore they parody? It’s also in my neighborhood and it’s not that far off of a parody. Sometimes I question myself for not having any tattoos. Seriously. I think that’s got to change. I love that show: it hits really, really close to home!
7. As a self-employed business owner, what are some things you do to experience balance in your day-to-day life?
I’ve been keeping a daily list of to-dos that are all grounded in a daily intention, and my list of to-dos include tasks I’m doing for my clients, my health, my partner, the garden, fun, etc. It’s easy to get lost in busy work time. The focus this list brings to my whole life is really helpful. The daily intention helps me come back to my core and connect to my bigger purpose and meaning for that day. Another thing I do is have a wonderful support system of other like-minded friends and business leaders who I can share ideas with: whether it’s a skype chat or a breakfast meeting, these moments with other amazingly inspiring women are like gold. The issue of balance is something I’m really working on!
8. Tell us about Wink. I’ve been reading about her for awhile, but I’d like the readers here to get to know her. What has Wink been teaching you lately?
Wink is our 5-year-old maltese poodle, also known as a maltipoo, and also known as The Cutest Dog In The World TM. If you think she’s a high strung yipper, you’re wrong. She’s super sweet, loyal, and easy going, and such a happy dog. Last summer she was struck with SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome) which left her completely blind, and a few months later, was diagnosed with megaesophagus. This week, it appears as if she’s gone partially deaf in response to an ear medication. Her immune system is compromised, and yet she is still so happy and loving, and finding joy in simple things like a heating vent on high on a cold winter day, a visiting baby who she stands guard over, or a lap to curl up on and cuddle with. With each setback we face, she clearly responds with a love of life. How can we not be learning from that? She’s part of the reason why I’m so intent to stay focused on my intentions every day, and to be grateful for the day before me. We never know what’s to come.
9. Let’s end where we started, with storytelling. What’s the story you’d like to tell in 2011?
Of the girl who took control of her life: I’m going through a transformation of self that I’m not currently documenting on my blog or even talking about with very many people, and I’m still grappling with the elements of this story. Key themes include boundaries, happiness, intention, physical fitness, body image, shame, joy, vulnerability, less time online, wild success, creativity, love and stepping into the uncomfortable. Somewhere in there are the bones to a really incredible story, and a story I’m living in 2011. Beyond that? Any of the stories for my incredible clients on issues of LGBT rights, women’s and reproductive rights, health, and children and families. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to work with the clients I do and help them tell these stories.
Website: LeAnn Locher & Associates
Blog: Lelo in Nopo
Podcast: Lelo Homemade
Facebook: LeAnn Locher