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I spy joy in Portland, Oregon

In late March of 2011 the Wall Street Journal released a study finding Portland, Oregon, to be the the 2nd most miserable city in the U.S.

I have found much evidence to the contrary. In fact, looking at photos I’ve taken in recent years for ISpyJoy.com and LicensePlateWisdom.com as well as images of the joy-spreading work of The Joy Team, it seems the Portland-Vancouver metro area is overflowing with joy, love and wisdom.

This video is a just a sampling of those images–all taken in the Portland / Vancouver metro area.

City of Roses, you are also the City of Joy, Love and Wisdom.

June 8, 2011   3 Comments

I spy joy in murals

Mural on Williams

Driving north on Williams in Northeast Portland for the first time in possibly a year, I was amazed to see this bold, albeit unfinished, mural on a residential building. An automatic “wow” escaped my lips. And then another, louder “wow” followed when I saw the other side was completely covered in art, as well.  I quickly looked for a place to pull over.

That’s when I met Kyle.

Kyle Simmons: curator, artist, student

Kyle kindly came down from his ladder, interrupting his artwork, to greet me.  I learned that the people who own the building commissioned this informal group of six artists to cover the exterior walls in beauty. Each allowed the freedom of his or her own style, you can see where one artist’s work ends and another’s begins.

Kyle has covered his section of the wall a couple times.  Just learning he’s been accepted to study art history in Italy (“wow” number 3), Kyle is adorning the building with a victory dragon.

They’re hoping to put the finishing touches on with the next dry spell (a bit hard to paint in the rain). Finished or not, it makes me smile to see life and color and art on a house.

There’s talk of formalizing the group into a non-profit with the mission of beautifying our streets with art.

Definitely something to be joyful about.

April 14, 2011   7 Comments

I spy joy in water tower graffiti

Love Water Tower in Portland

The more I read, the more I confirmation I get that love is really all there is. Everything begins and grows from love. And love, just love, is the answer for everything.

The first few times I encountered this idea, I wasn’t quite buying it. But it’s really grown on me.  When I stop and think about it, and get to what’s at the core–the very base– of everything, love seems to always be there. It’s quite a comforting thought, actually.

And a joyful thought. For what is joy if not an expression of love? Seeing even the symbols, written or drawn, of love bring me joy.

Let’s put them everywhere, shall we?

This joyful site can be spied going east on the Burnside bridge in Portland, Oregon.

October 16, 2010   No Comments

I spy joy on a trash can

Spreading love in Portland

Graffiti is a word that carries a negative connotation in our society. But sometimes graffiti can be good.

Just a couple of days ago I was walking around Portland and saw this trash can had been tagged with a heart. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “love.”

Who would have thought you could spread love through garbage? Certainly not me, but there it was. Plain, simple, clear as day. Love. Love thy brother. Love yourself. Love your life.


June 21, 2010   1 Comment

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a billboard for joy!

Portland, OR - SE Foster Rd, 150 feet west of 51st Ave

Portland, OR - SE 82nd Ave, 100 ft north of Ogden St

As you’re driving to work or a board meeting or a dentist appointment today you might see a big yellow billboard reminding you to choose joy. Or maybe one nudging you to believe in yourself. Or maybe one boldly declaring You are totally awesome!

Believe your eyes. You can choose joy, you can believe in yourself, and yes, you really are totally awesome. Totally.

There are 8 bright yellow billboards boasting positive messages going up in Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, sometime today through Friday.  They’ll be up for 4 weeks. In that time over 2 million sets of eyes will have seen them. That’s 2 million impressions for joy.

The Joy Team is spreading joy, optimism and inspiration to millions. Want to join us?

April 5, 2010   1 Comment

Introducing an ad campaign for joy!

One Billboard for The Joy Team

Many of you may remember my daughter and I hitting the streets last November with messages of joy and inspiration from The Joy Team. Now we’ve made it official.

The Joy Team is now a non-profit corporation in Vancouver, Washington with the sole mission of spreading joy, optimism and inspiration to millions. Instead of reaching 30 or 40 people at a time, we’re shooting for millions.  How are we going to do it? With the awesome power of outdoor advertising:  billboards.

And we’re planning to put the first round of inspiring billboards up in the Portland, Oregon metro area in April or May of this year.  We’ve got at least two billboards in the works. And we’d love to have more.

Want to be part of what very well may be the first ever ad campaign with the sole purpose of spreading joy? Find out how here.

Another billboard for The Joy Team

March 7, 2010   No Comments

I spy joy in groovy high-tops

Groovy Nike High-Tops

Waiting in line at Stumptown with some friends for the weekly coffee/bagel run, I noticed these shoes on a young lady at the counter.  Love them! They’re fun and funky and they make people smile. Wearing shoes like that must increase your cheerfulness a good 10 points.  Has to.

Reminds me of another young lady I saw in downtown Portland wearing some wild socks.

So much fun! And isn’t that what life is for?

February 13, 2010   No Comments

I spy joy in colorful row houses

Row houses on Glisan

One of my new year’s resolutions is to “be awake to beauty and aware of magnificence.”

On an errand for work, I happened upon on opportunity to fulfill that resolution: this fabulous set of row houses, painted in vibrant colors.  I drove around the block twice looking for a place to pull over and take a photo.

Even on a gray, rainy Portland day, these houses popped from the obvious pride and care with which they were painted. I took a few photos and just stood for several minutes soaking in the beauty.  A passer-by seeing me with camera in hand commented, “I work across the street and see people taking pictures of those houses all the time.”

It’s no wonder these houses bring joy to so many.  The collective display is truly magnificent.  Vibrant, happy colors applied in such detailed and caring fashion. It makes me smile.  And apparently many others.

January 31, 2010   1 Comment

The Joy Team hits the streets

Park Bench at 8th & Everett, Portland, OR

Park Bench at 8th & Everett, Portland, OR

The Joy Team hit the streets yesterday in what some (well, maybe just my dad) are calling an act of Guerilla Happiness.

My daughter, Taryn, and I dropped 23 Joy Notes at random locations in Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.  We started what I hope to be the first of many outings with 18 different card designs — 6 of them drawn by Taryn and 12 of them created on the computer by me.

Next to Subway on Main St., Vancouver, WA

Next to Subway on Main St., Vancouver, WA

All the cards have positive, encouraging sayings and / or images on the front, hence the name Joy Notes.  On the back is a note addressed Dear Friend, which lets the finder know the card was intended for him or her to find and keep.

Taryn and I happily dropped cards on park benches, in planters, tucked in cereal isles, propped in bathrooms, nestled in store windows… Together we had a wonderful time.

Bathroom for ICU waiting room at Emanuel Hospital, Portland, OR

Bathroom for ICU waiting room at Emanuel Hospital, Portland, OR

Driving home I was filled with joy at the thought that 23 people will stumble across these cards and their day will be brightened, even if just for a few minutes.

While Taryn and I have set out these seeds of inspiration in Portland and Vancouver, batches of Joy Notes have been sent to Seattle in Washington, Beaverton and Medford in Oregon, and Santa Fe in New Mexico.

Starbuck's on Main, Vancouver, WA

Starbuck's on Main, Vancouver, WA

To see photos of all 23 drops, visit our Facebook Fan Page.

The fronts of the first 18 Joy Notes are below.

Joy spreads!

Joy Notes 1 from ISpyJoy.com

Joy Notes 1 from ISpyJoy.com

Joy Notes 2 from ISpyJoy.com

Joy Notes 2 from ISpyJoy.com

Joy Notes drawn by Taryn, 6 years old

Joy Notes drawn by Taryn, 6 years old

November 30, 2009   4 Comments

I spy joy in The Joy Team!

Taryn on The Joy Team

Taryn on The Joy Team

Taryn and I are heading out to spread joy today in Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.

We’ve started The Joy Team, t-shirts and all, and are on our way to put our first game plan into action.

More to come…

November 29, 2009   2 Comments