Monday, June 4, 2018

Albert College Alumni Profile Interview

   "My artistic sensibilities were ‘hatched’ at Albert”

Kevin Balmer ’90 is an entrepreneur and the owner of a successful video production company in Portland, Oregon called Diggable Monkey Productions. “Without the support of the Samuel McLaughlin Scholarship I would not have had the opportunity to graduate from Albert College and might not be who I am today.” Kevin took some time to talk to us about his four years at Albert College and his journey to where he is now.   
Kevin’s connection to Albert College began long before he walked through the front door in the ’80s. His father, Spencer Balmer ’53; aunt, Faith Smith ’60; uncles Neil Smith ’59 and Thomas Ballantyne ’43; and brother, Marshall Balmer, all attended Albert College before he did. Kevin’s grandmother was also connected to the College through the Albert College Ladies Guild. It was this family connection that Kevin explains “made Albert a soft landing for me. Albert College has always felt like home to me. Even before arriving, the spirits of Albert College were with me. The school holds a very special place in my memory and my life”.
Kevin fondly remembers the faculty and staff as supportive and encouraging. Kevin began playing the drums at the age of 12. When talking with his parents about the possibility of attending Albert College as a boarding student, he raised the question, “What about my drums?” Kevin’s father promptly called the College and asked the same question. Faculty member Mr. Clyde Dawson was able to see that continuing to play the drums was important to Kevin and, wanting to encourage his musical interest, had a room in the basement of the College converted to accommodate the arrival of Kevin’s drum kit. Kevin also spoke about connecting easily with both staff and students while at Albert. He has fond memories of faculty member Mr. Michael Tansley, as well. Both Mr. Dawson and Mr. Tansley had a significant impact on Kevin.  “If I were to write a book about my life, I would have to dedicate a specific chapter in my life story for these two,” Kevin says. It was not only the faculty that pushed Kevin to rise to the challenges set ahead of him but Headmaster Simon Bruce-Lockhart as well. “He was a well-respected man, who I and others looked up to. I can remember being inspired by his lectures in Chapel while at the same time finding him very easy to talk to. In my opinion he was the ultimate headmaster-type.” Kevin will be forever grateful for one specific phone call he received from Headmaster Bruce-Lockhart. During this phone call, Headmaster Bruce-Lockhart informed him that the school would like to offer Kevin a scholarship to continue attending. Without this scholarship Kevin’s family would not have been able to afford to continue sending him to Albert to complete his final two years of high school. “It was difficult to really truly appreciate at the time. Upon reflection I felt embraced, like I belonged and it was a big vote of confidence that the faculty and board at Albert College wanted me!” 
After graduating from Albert in 1990, Kevin moved to the United States in pursuit of a career as a professional musician. After eight years, he and his band moved from Georgia to Portland, Oregon. The move did not work out for the band and, after some rocky times, things started to fall apart. At this point Kevin started looking for other job opportunities and found a position at Con-way Freight.  Twelve years later, Kevin found himself still working for Con-way Freight as a Geographic Information Systems Analyst at a job that he thought would hold a temporary place in his life. Kevin enjoyed the work and steady income, but he missed being creative. While working full-time, Kevin attended classes at Portland University and received an Advanced Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. One of the projects Kevin is particularly proud of is The Diggable City: Making Urban Agriculture a Planning Priority. It was through this and other projects that Kevin was reminded of his affinity for the arts and decided to start his video production company called Diggable Monkey Productions. When asked about his production company, Kevin said “I’m small, but I carry a big stick! After seven years, my digital footprint is quite large. I’ve worked on a number of documentaries, film shorts and other projects with a lot of colourful characters. I think in the near future I’ll be able to leverage my degree and move my work into a realm that will help Portland, Oregon tell its dynamic story. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and I enjoy that my work is interesting and engaging. Not everyone loves what they do and I am fortunate to be that lucky!”  
Kevin reflects back to his time at Albert, “What I do now has a direct tie back to my time at Albert College; my artistic sensibilities were ‘hatched’ there. I learned at Albert to take risks, be confident and was inspired to be my best self. I still try to do that every day.” Kevin continued by saying, “Albert College has always excelled in providing a palpable family vibe. Even now looking at Albertalks magazines, that same family environment still lives and breathes as it did in my day. It’s something to pay attention to and it’s at the heart of what makes Albert great. It’s a really special place.”
Kevin left us with a little advice for current AC students, “Enjoy yourselves while you have the opportunity to discover who you are with support and encouragement in such a caring, wonderful and magical place. Remember: life is good. Seize the day.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

BORA Architects and Creative Capital Design @ Design Week Portland

BORA Architects and Creative Capital Design team up in Comfortable? Fabric and the Threshold of Shelter @ Design Week Portland's annual event.

Americans have steadily moved away from architecture that actively engages with regional climate conditions. Instead, we have favored a built environment that largely isolates us from the weather - places where temperature, light, and humidity are held constant. Trends in fashion have followed a similar trajectory. Increasingly, the clothes we wear no longer need to “make sense” as articles of protection, since we are able to avoid prolonged exposure to the elements.

For Design Week Portland 2018, Bora Architects connected with Creative Capital Design to invite visitors to question “comfort” by experiencing fabric as shelter that responds to the elements visibly and dynamically. As a team of local architects, makers, and fashion/apparel designers, we created a spatial structure in conjunction with wearable articles that illustrate a spectrum of protection while celebrating the sublime climate of the Pacific Northwest. By engaging with the fabric structure, wearables, and with each other, attendees came together in conversation about where we live, how we dress, and what it means to have shelter in an urbanizing, globalizing world.
This was a tremendous team effort, and reinforces our belief in the power of cross-disciplinary collaboration to make great things happen!
Special thanks to all our partners and supporters:
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Sonia Kasparian
Pacific Northwest Fibershed (Shannon Welsh)
Rainier Industries
Industrial Fabric Association International
Form Design
The Good Mod
Rev. Nat’s Hard Cider
Dayna Jacobs – Stylist / Makeup Artist

If you didn’t get a chance to see the structure and wearables during Design Week, they will be on display at PICA’s Meta Gala fundraiser on Saturday, April 28. And we hope that won’t be the last opportunity…

Camera Work by
Mina Sundell Crowder
Karim Hassanein
Kevin Balmer

Video Production by Kevin Balmer
Diggable Monkey Productions

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Kevin James Poest is a master craftsman and artist in Portland, Oregon, specializing in custom commission work and gorgeous art pieces created from hand-picked and unique wood. Known to his friends as simply Poest, he is a professional in carpentry and furniture repair, and proficient in all aspects of wood-working.

Aside from his exquisite art pieces, Poest is a trusted artisan for commission work for companies big and small. An accomplished teacher, he also improves his own skills with constant education and a relentless drive for perfection.

Contact Poest today and take advantage of this singular Portland, Oregon talent. or

Friday, January 5, 2018


With the a little help from his friends, Christian produces a Portland-based music event effectionately known as Covers and Blankets. Held each year in January, the mid-winter event is an open mic blanket drive benefitting the Janus Youth Organization of Oregon and Southwest Washington. Now in its 15 year, Covers and Blankets has become one of our community’s most beloved events raising hundreds of warm blankets and clothing for our region’s youth who have runaway or are homeless, trafficked for sex or teen parents living in low income neighborhoods.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Drawing on more than 20 years of experience as sound engineer, mixer, designer, and composer in audio-post production, Jason has established his company AUDIOWELLS as one of the most trusted audio post studios for Film, TV and Radio. Wells is a multi-instrumentalist and performing cornetist, guitarist, and singer in popular Portland groups such as MarchFourth, Trashcan Joe, The Libertine Belles, The Nowhere Band, and The Saloon Ensemble. In every performance – from a local pub to an epic multi-day festival – Wells' passion for music shines through in every performance.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


With musical roots in Portland going back to early 90’s, Manoj is one of the pioneer DJ’s of American west coast dance culture. He has produced and co-produced countless large-scale music events in the Northwest region including his popular Uplift and Curve music series, the Black Rock Boutiques’s annual fund-raiser, White Out and Howl, the annual Halloween event to benefit the City Repair Project.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Figure Plant: Paul Bunyan Statue

Here's a fun one! Though largely a community-based funding effort, the folks at Kenton's Figure Plant were the crew that actually rocked the recent Paul Bunyan restoration. Unlike some other iconic statues in Portland, you can put this guy on your magazine cover and in your TV show all day long. He belongs to no one and everyone simultaneously. Indeed, a true Portland enigma... 

See more Diggable Monkey video here:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Steve Buhaly Launches Money Tips... For A Better Life!

Diggable Monkey and Steve Buhaly have undertaken an educational, not-for-profit endeavor to raise awareness on financial literacy and empowerment for young adults.
Steve's created a YouTube channel that covers topics such as savings, debt, and investing (and we’re working on a few others that include job hunting, interviewing, negotiating, etc). These videos will be released regularly and are free for public use with no advertisements.

Attached are three videos that comprise our first release topic: Savings. We're writing to ask for your help in spreading the word by doing one or more of the following:
  1. Watch and circulate the videos
  1. Subscribe to the Youtube channel
  1. Like the Facebook page
  1. Leave a positive review (either directly on Youtube, or on Facebook...or both!)
Our primary purpose in circulating these videos is to help educate young adults on how they can secure a healthy financial future in an entertaining and engaging way. This is the official release and we want to build momentum and get these videos where they will be as helpful as possible.
If you know of any educational organizations or financial literacy programs that could benefit from these videos, please also feel free to forward them along as you see fit.
Stay tuned for our next release topic on investing basics coming out later this month!
Your help is much appreciated,

Savings Part I:

--> Youtube:

Friday, July 14, 2017


Mizu is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Water in the Desert (WITD) and The Headwaters Theatre. She is a performer, choreographer and educator whose work explores themes of identity, truth, culture, ecology and transformation. Mizu’s artistic works have been commissioned by The City of Portland and Portland Center Stage and her projects have received funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council, Portland Development Commission, Oregon Arts Commission, The Multnomah County Cultural Coalition & The Oregon Cultural Trust. As an educator, she has worked as adjunct faculty in dance at Prescott College and Portland State University. Recently she was awarded a residency at Playa Summer Lake.

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell: The Weather Makes a Difference

Mural painter Chris Wunderlich describes how painting in cool overcast weather makes for a easier day on the Fair-Haired Dumbbell.
For more info on the Fair-Haired Dumbbell, visit: Guerrilla Development

Video produced by Diggable Monkey Productions

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fair-Haired Dumbbell - The Painting Begins

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell is Guerrilla Development’s 56,000 SF speculative office building with ground-floor retail in the heart of the Burnside Bridgehead.  At the eastside intersection of Burnside Street and the Willamette River, the Bridgehead is home to some of Portland’s most exciting new architecture and development
The project consists of two canted six-story towers decked in hand-painted original artwork on all eight of its elevations.  At each level, sky bridges connect the ~4,000 SF office spaces, giving the creative companies who work there the ability to own their own floor (or two).  No two elevations are the same; Tenants and visitors alike will take in impressive views of Portland through windows of varying size.  At the ground floor, the Fair-Haired Dumbbell will compliment its neighborhood with unique retail offerings and creative landscaping.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Restoring Sovereign: Oregon Historical Society

The Oregon Historical Society and Randall Investment Group team up to renovate Portland's 1922 Sovereign Hotel, including the famous Richard Haas trompe l'oeil mural. 

Friday, April 21, 2017


Listen Here:

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Dan Cohen and Christopher Wunderlich step us through what it takes to restore a four wall trompe l'oeil mural on an old historical building in downtown Portland, Oregon.  

Produced and Directed by Kevin Balmer
Diggable Monkey Productions

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Two coots and a dedicated team of climate activists in Portland, Oregon, are converting a second old school bus for use as a warm, dry shelter for the Medics and Healers at Standing Rock. We've done this once before, putting Bunk Bus #1 (above, with coots) in service at Oceti Sakowin on November 24. Please use the links below to learn about that effort.
This time, we've had the great benefit of the hospitality, expertise, labor and tools of the good people at Manifestations, a maker space in Southeast Portland. Thank you, Manifestations!
Bus #2 is more heavily insulated than Bus #1 and will have fans to circulate warmed air throughout the interior. The electrical system will be simpler, but still set up to plug into solar panel and/or wind turbine sources.
The bus is scheduled for completion by January 6. Depending on the weather enroute, it could be in use on site by January 10.
We believe the fight at Standing Rock is everyone's fight. The weather there is extreme and life-threatening. The need for shelter is urgent . Please help us make this happen.
The Indigenous people who are holding space to protect the water deserve all the support we can come up with. Please donate to this cause.
November 7 Willamette Week article showing Indigenous artwork going on Bus #1
November 10 KGW Channel 8 News video about the build-out of Bus #1
November 21 Oregonian/Oregon Live article about Bus #1 arriving in Bozeman, enroute to Standing Rock.
Bunk Bus #2:
Purchase (actual) 3,200
Registration & Insurance 850
Mechanical Repairs 2,400
Partitions, Insulation and Panelling 4,500
Storage and Shelving 400
Heat System 1,800
Electrical System & Generator 3,000
Window Shutters 750
Interior Paint 200
Exterior Graphics and Paint 900
Outhouse Tents (two of each)
Platforms 280
Tents 1400
Heaters & Tanks 700
Lighting 240
Benches & Coat Racks 160
Delivery 2,600
Contingency 3,500
TOTAL 26,880
Cash-On-Hand 13,500
from first fund-raising campaign GoFundMe Goal 13,380
Please share this with friends.
Thank you for your support.
Help spread the word!

Please donate here:

Video by Kevin Balmer
Diggable Monkey Productions

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Standing Rock Bunk Bus 1.0

With the help of Portland community members, Mike Horner and Harlan Shober convert a school bus into a medical treatment facility for the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. A 2nd Bunk Bus is currently under construction and they could use a little help. Click the link to the Go Fund Me site below, if you want to contribute much needed dollars.