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Audrey Eschright 8 January 2008

Audrey Eschright

Crafty geek

Audrey is a Portland native who has spent time in exile in various parts of Washington. Her interests range from textiles and fiber arts, to economics, technology, feminism, and geography. The main tools Audrey works with are the Ruby programming language, flour, yarn, and asking many questions. Her cats can tell you first hand that once she sets her mind on something there’s little that can distract her.

What are you up to?

Last fall I started working for Elevated Rails, a Chicago-based software consultancy, doing web application development. I love the flexibility of working from home (or any other space with wifi).

I’m also on the board of Legion of Tech, a new local non-profit umbrella organization for events like Ignite Portland and BarCamp.

I maintain a wiki for Portland user groups and tech meetup at http://pdxgroups.pbwiki.com, which I’m planning to expand this year into a community-wide calendar.

My main hands-on craft is knitting, working mostly from my own patterns, one of which will be appearing in a book called More Big Girl Knits this April.

On top of everything else, I started a science fiction magazine called Yog’s Notebook last spring. It’s on hiatus after only two issues, but I’m hoping to revive it as soon as I can recruit more slush pile readers and work out a better pay rate for the writers.

What are you into?

My current big obsessions are the applications of information technology in daily life (as explored in the first parts of Accelerando) and eating local. But also making things from scratch (whether food or clothing or technology), photography, design, fashion, and reading as much about everything as I possibly can.

What do you like most about Portland?

Rivers, trees, mild weather (most of the year), and our hippie geek culture.

What drew you to Ruby programming?

Like many Ruby programmers, I started working with it because of Rails. I was looking for an easy way to get web apps up and running, and at the time (about two years ago) Rails was just starting to get widespread interest for exactly that. Then I found _why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby and was hooked. When a programming language inspires people to write surreal comic books, you know there’s something interesting happening.

You inject so much energy into the Portland techno-creative scene. What motivates you?

Two years ago, I was working in a job that was somewhat technical, but mindnumbingly boring. I didn’t have any idea how to get out of there. On something of a whim, I started attending a couple of local user group meetings, and it really changed my life. I found that being able to talk to people about what they were working on and how they did it made a huge difference in my self-confidence, as well as my own store of knowledge. I started volunteering to work on events within those communities, and it’s just grown and grown from there.

I love seeing people experience the same effect for themselves. Having a community around one’s interests is hugely valuable, especially in a rapidly changing area like technology. I want to help people have the resources they need to participate and create.

(Thanks to Bill Burcham for suggesting this question.)

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