The Empowerment Project Powers Through Portland With BIG NEWS!

Empowerment Project and Teri Fahrendorf

Hey ya’ll!  Ashley from Iowa here, checking in from “The Empowerment Project” City #3.  Although as a group, we definitely left a bit of our hearts in San Francisco, we were excited to move on to our next adventure… PORTLAND!  This drive would be our first real long stretch together in the van mapping out at around ten hours.  Five girls, one van, ten hours!

After Sarah and Dana had an amazing meeting at IndieFlix to discuss and brainstorm distribution options, Vanessa caught some sites and b-roll in the city, Alana enjoyed a well-deserved rest, and I sought out some much needed hiking – we were off!  The drive started off strong with some amazing car jams and some pretty epic dance moves as we settled in for the drive ahead.  Little did we know that those first songs would be some of the only music we played during those ten hours.  Instead, we filled the car with stories, inspiring quotes, TED talks, and laughter… lots of laughter.  At this point, we are still five strangers getting to know each other.  How crazy is it that we all took this incredible leap of faith and jumped in a van for a 30 day, 5,000 miles plus trip together?

Our route was full of entertaining stops including an epic bathroom break in “flavorful” Weed, California where Mt. Shasta towered overhead, an outstanding dinner in Grants Pass, Oregon at the Twisted Cork (fun fact:  the chef, owner, and all visible workers were female) and a stop at the original Dutch Bros. Coffee where Cameron and Maddie not only greeted us with a smile… but with free beverages for the road.  The hospitality and kindness we have been shown has blown me away.  People can be so amazing.

For those that say the world is full of hate, I believe that you are blind. Open your eyes wide and pass on kindness as much as possible… it will be returned to you, sometimes tenfold.

The team rolled into Portland around 2am and our gracious hosts, Tom and Nicole (and their three pups), were awaiting our arrival.  We were all exhausted and pretty much face-planted into our pillows, anticipating an early call time with our Portland interview subject, Teri Fahrendorf.

Waking up the next morning felt like getting up from a nap… because that’s what it was… a nap.  In true soldier style though, we all put on a big smile and prepped for the day ahead.  Since we were headed to a brewery to see a new beer recipe being made, it was obviously very tough (wink, wink).

The team arrived at Heater Allen Brewing in McMinnville, Oregon the next morning bright and early.  Beer for breakfast?  Who’d of thunk it?

Heater Allen Brewery

Teri Fahrendorf was the first female brew master west of the Rockies, the first female brew master in California, and the first female brew master in Oregon.  Not only did she achieve greatness for herself, but over the course of her brewing adventures, she began compiling a list of female brew masters across the country.  This list eventually turned into the non-profit organization that Teri deemed “The Pink Boots Society.”  Anyone can be a part of this group, as long as they are actively earning income from brewing activities – from brewers and truck drivers to women who work on the bottle line or make earrings out of bottle caps.  Bonus to being a part of the group:  you get to wear pink galoshes while brewing!

As we began setting up the cameras, the ladies began filtering in and immediately you could tell that they felt at home.  The “Pink Boots Society” is a place for them to be themselves, ask questions, and get their hands dirty.  Our crew got to observe the making of a brand new beer recipe and taste different styles of beers while at Heater Allen (#roughdayatwork).  How cool is it that we had an all female film crew working with an all female brew crew?  I find myself constantly asking, “Is this real life?”

Teri Fahrendorf

After a hard morning’s work, we all headed to lunch at the community beer festival, where things got a bit competitive.  Teri, our interviewee and Portland expert, challenged our ever-curious Director of Photography, Alana to a “fried off.”  It was fried Twinkie vs. fried Oreo and somehow grilled peaches and ice cream won!  After a brewery visit and driving tour of the city, we hit up some delish (and cheap) conveyer belt sushi and called it a night as we settled into our food coma.

After an inspiring interview with Teri the next day, we met up with our lodging hosts for a dinner out on the town.  Hitting up a local Thai favorite, Pok Pok (#amazing #period) we were happy to have a moment to reflect on our time in Portland.  Afterward, they treated us to the ultimate Portland experience…  VOODOO DONUTS!  After a jelly filled, Oreo crusted, bacon topped delicacy, we all rolled into our beds full and happy.

Dana & Ashley portland         Voodoo Donuts

Dana Cook, Ashley hammen         Alana Fickes
Photos courtesy of: Alana Fickes

Our time in Portland ended the following morning with a jog in the country’s largest city park #omgdonutregrets) and a hug from our hosts, Tom and Nicole.  After all their gratitude, they surprised us yet again with a grocery store gift card. They are the sweetest!  The crew grabbed a healthy lunch at Gourmet Productions, who again offered our project a gracious discount and hit the road.

We are all excited to see what the next turn in our journey holds, but the one thing I can say about Portland is – man, those people are amazing!  From our gracious hosts to our empowering subject – I was reminded of the world’s kindness.   In the words of the ever-inspiring Teri Fahrendorf, “Success is making a difference in the world.  Pay it back and pay it forward.  That’s just the way it’s gotta be!”

ALSO!!! Exciting News. The Empowerment Project have just made a huge announcement in the development of this amazing documentary that they would like to share with everyone:


  1. You ladies bring a smile to my face every time I see a photo or update! You are all so happy! Surely there is some grumbling at some point?? Well, at least we don’t have to worry about you all starving on this journey. I’ve gained several lbs. just hearing and viewing what you have been eating. Beer in the morning is a bit over the top for me~~I’d have been out like a light after the first small glass. Congrats on your sponsor, I’m sure that will help the budget some? I’m glad to know that you are meeting such good folks. It’s true, when we give, we receive as well. Back to my mundane life now~~looking forward to the next update and pictures. Safe travels!
    Love, Gma

  2. Pingback: Girls Kicking Butt Across the WWW and Beyond | IBU*tiful

  3. Pingback: New Photography Project Shows Beer Industry Is A Woman's Place Too

  4. Pingback: New Feminist Beer Campaign 'Cerveja Feminista' Is Challenging Sexism In Advertising

  5. Pingback: #WomanCrushWednesday: Teri Fahrendorf | @ beer affair

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.