Fearless Voices: Olivia Guethling & Adriana Escobedo-Land - Columbia Land Trust
Women supporting women at the Samara Group.

This month, we were lucky enough to chat with two female, fearless voices at Portland-based environmental consulting firm, Samara Group. Adriana Escobedo-Land is a project associate and Olivia Guethling is an art director. Together, they work with a brilliant women-led team that focuses on bringing science, strategy, and design together for environmentally-driven groups.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Olivia: I live in North Portland, at that perfect middle ground between easy access to the city that has everything I need—a thriving, creative and inspiring economy and great minds— and easy access to various escapes, from hopping to the coast for a good hike or a quick surf, to driving towards Central Oregon to enjoy some high desert vastness and dry air.

Adriana: I’ve lived in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range and grew up treasuring the bountiful and distinct Pacific Northwest seasons, for many years, from the passenger seat of my mom’s pickup truck along a school commute to Yamhill, OR. I’m grateful to now live in the Sunnyside neighborhood in SE, central to bus lines, the best food carts, and large forested parks. It’s a great way to live the small-city life.

How would you describe your relationship with Pacific Northwest nature and the outdoors?

Olivia: The diversity of the natural environment of the Pacific Northwest is insanely compelling. It feels like there is no way to ever see everything that is worth seeing here. Oregon is a true wonderland that ranges from lush rainforest to dried out salt lakes. It’s comforting that so many Oregonians truly care about the conservation of this unique environment. I love to go on super-challenging, strenuous hikes and test my limits that way—I find a lot of value in reminding myself how small humans are compared to nature. I also love backpacking and exploring remote areas of the state.

Adriana: When I hike somewhere in the Pacific Northwest I consistently see something I’ve never seen: a new species of tree, a new flavor of a berry, breathtaking scenery, and it never ceases to amaze me. I like sharing these moments of discovery with others. I’ve developed a lot of wonderful friendships by sharing time together out in nature.

What issues of Northwest conservation do you care about most?

Adriana: Every time I see a few dead trees or an unusually low lake I have to wonder if I’m seeing a direct result of our changing, warming climate. Seeing our Portland climate movement make visible transitions to prioritize frontline communities as leaders in the movement, as was the case in the Portland Clean Energy Initiative, was really inspiring to me and a great example of “Fearless Conservation.” When we can recognize that we need everyone included in this work for conservation efforts to be successful we can and will start to move in the right direction.

Tell us about your work.

Olivia: I am the art director and lead designer at Samara Group, which means I get to generate communication and educational materials to communicate issues around environmental science and conservation. I am often advocating for clear communication to really make science more accessible and comprehensive to folks with and without scientific backgrounds. I might be speaking for myself, but before getting into the field of environmental science I had little idea of how much work went into issues around habitat restoration, and it really opened my eyes to the great work that is happening. And vice versa, I have found that lots of scientists had no idea how much work goes into design, and as a result, how great their impact can be using thought through design solutions—science and design really is a perfect marriage in so many ways. I hope I get to excite more people about nature and the various ways they can support and engage with preserving our great environment.

Adriana: I am a Project Associate at Samara Group which broadly captures my role leading and supporting the development of our integrated strategy, science, and design solutions. Most of my days I’m planning and creating the tools needed to help reach our end goal such as creating a statewide readiness and response plan for urban insect pests, raising statewide awareness about Oregon’s bees, or engaging impacted communities about what would make a resource most useful for them. I aim to navigate the complexity of our work and bring forward simple solutions that make the big task of conserving our natural resources that much more doable.

Read more about Samara Group and the work they do at samarapdx.com