When you get a couple hundred soapmakers from all over the country together in a room, there’s a lot of energy.

We were 95% women, but certainly not all the same. There were exuberant Texans with lots of jewelry and sass, greying mid-westerners who raised goats, and black-clad urban gen-xers (or are they Ys or Zs? I’ve lost track) who’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Still, being soapers, we were kind of a tribe.

For four days we networked and partied and attended workshops on a lot of topics, ranging from technical how-tos to legal, financial, and marketing advice

On the last night, I went through all my notes to pull together a list of highlights and action items.  I’m trying to avoid the tendency to immediately get caught up in life-as-usual – in short, to fergettaboutit – till I run across my handouts during an office purge a year from now.

Anyway, I’m back now with fresh inspiration and new things to try, plus some nice memories of Portland.

Five things about Portland:

People are friendly, helpful, and seem genuinely happy to be there. Even the security people at the airport have an attitude that seems to say, Hey! Cool! I live in Portland!

There’s an air of civilized calm on the streets downtown compared to our frantic east-coast cities. Crosswalks are respected. Traffic is law-abiding.  Life seems less stressful.

As expected, the city is crawling with youthful types who look like they’ve just biked to work. Some of them, and I don’t mean hippies or the homeless, are walking around barefoot, including at the airport. What’s up with that?

There are two rivers, clean air, lot of pine trees, and sunshine (although we were assured that sunshine isn’t the norm)

And finally there’s Mt. Hood, a classic cone-shaped, snow- covered mountain, looming over the scene giving a serene sense of proportion to the place.

Some pics from Portland: