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Portland Mini Maker Faire Part 1

Because of the craziness of my schedule of coming back from Portland and having to make sure everything is ready for the World Maker Faire, on top of my regular 9-5 job and my coaching requirements for my local Roller Derby League I am going to do recaps of this event in a few parts. Have to type all of my notes!!


Friday afternoon, dappled sun sitting on a tarmac in Anacortes. A small yellow plane comes bopping in from the south, making a short turn on approach. It pulls up into 'parking' and out steps Mark Reed of Prism Kites. Mark and I have been friends for some time, and this year he has opted to join me at one of the Mini Maker Faires. He is a perfect add to the maker scene, having been a maker before the official 'maker movement'. In fact he made the plane that came bouncing down the runway and is about to carry us to Portland.

Mark is an interesting person, and anyone that has ever met him, either on or off the kite field, would tell you that developing a friendship with him is like peeling an onion. There are so many layers to him. (pardon the horrible overused cliche) Once you think you 'know him' you spend another 40 minutes talking about the weather patterns and favorite books, and you discover a whole new side of him. He has an incredibly keen mind for business, and a passion for kites; and perhaps it is because of those two 'facets' of him, that he has been able to make a sustainable and profitable business out of designing and selling kites.

You can find out more about Prism by going to PRISM

If you use instagram, I HIGHLY suggest you go find him at 'alaskafromabove' and hit the follow button. His photography skills are exceptional, and the images he captures while flying his plane over the Alaskan Tundra are something out of every adventurers dream.

A few hours later we arrive at a small airstrip just outside of Portland, and drive over to OMSI, the soon to be home of the Portland Mini Maker Faire. There we meet up with Lindsey Johnson of Phantom Star Kites This weekend, Phantom Star kites provided the kits that we built over the weekend. Two kites were available, the squiggly sled, and the 'Ty Glider'.

The first is a traditional sled that most avid kite fliers would recognize. Instead of spars to provide support it uses double sided tape and a pressed fold of the tyvek to create two rigid spar like spines that give structure to the kite.

The other kite, the Ty Glider is similar to a Rogallo Glider, a somewhat overlooked design in the development aviation history. Admittidely, the 'avid kite flier' in me, sees this paper airplane like kite on a wand and thinks 'really? are the kids and adults coming to build kites really going to see this as a kite and want to build it?'

I am happy to admit I have been proven wrong, and will say now, I know I should have more faith in folks like Lindsey. :) Lindsey sold me on the idea of having these available for the event, and while I was skeptical, I agreed. He has done more in the kids kite building workshop space then I have, and for a lot longer time than I have. In fact, that is how we met, him and his wife Ronda Brewer were hosting a kids kite making workshop at an event I happened to be attending on Antelope Island, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Ty Glider was definitely the most popular of the two options.

The real shining stars of the whole event for me, were the Nguyen Family. Mom - PV, Dad - Kahn, and the kids Dylan and Cardin. This family forms a kite flying powerhouse that has jumped in with both feet into all things kite related. They fly as a pair as 'Team Flying Dragon', and travel around flying kites, making kite 'stuff', and helping out at every event they go to. Within literally, no joke, literally ten seconds of arriving at the booth, Dylan and Cardin got to work. One started pulling out a kite to go fly and the other hopped right over to the table and started showing folks how to build kites. They had built these kites before at another event, so the format was very easy for them to simply show up and get to work. Over the two days of the Maker Faire, they worked non-stop, and were so proficient at it that the adults were often seen walking around and chatting with other maker leaders. Deep in conversation, not worried that Dylan and Cardin couldn't handle themselves. They built, taught, brainstormed ideas on how to make it better and troubleshoot problems, flew their kites, and shared their love with everyone that came by.

In a conversation with PV I found out that as of a few years ago, they were shy. She included herself in saying that. It was completely unheard of that they would put themselves in the limelight, or speak to people, let alone openly share a very special part of themselves with complete strangers. Kahn's (dad) life long love kites became a fun activity for the family only a few years ago, and now the whole family is fun, outgoing, and a tremendous asset to have around. They embody not only the maker movement, but the reason behind why I am doing this whole venture.

Kites are but a tool for life. They help us Connect, they help us Discover, they help us Explore. THAT... is what lies behind everything we do, how to do it better for ourselves, and how to help others do the same.

Stay tuned for more!!!

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