Summer Intern Missy Gerlach ’19 designs photo library for Toole Design Group in Portland, OR

Me on the streets of Portland, filming for the video projectThis summer I’m interning at Toole Design Group in Portland, Oregon. Toole Design Group is a national planning, engineering, and landscape architecture group that specializes in bicycle and pedestrian transportation. The group particularly focuses on developing transportation options that are practical, easy, and cost-effective. With numerous offices throughout the country, I am working at the Toole Design Group office located in Portland, Oregon, my hometown. The group is involved with the many different steps of the process, from initial research to designing bike and pedestrian facilities.

The Portland office is small, with only seven employees including myself. But while small, each staff member plays an important and unique part in the process of creating facilities. My role working for Toole Design Group has primarily focused on photography thus far. One project I’m working on is building a photo library for the group. This entails going to different areas in Portland that showcase biking or pedestrian facilities. Some areas I’ve photographed are Portland’s recently-built commuter bridge, Tilikum Crossing, the nearby Moody Cycle track, bike lanes in downtown Portland, and other areas that particularly emphasize pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

My deskIn conjunction with this, I’ve researched different photo sharing websites to help the group determine the best platform to use for categorization of these images. After going through all the options, my next step is to edit and upload the photographs onto the website and categorize them in albums with tags and locations. Once established, this site will be used to allow Toole Design Group staff to easily find images to supplement presentations, marketing purposes, or anything they may need. I will continue to build this photo library throughout the summer to gather the images Toole Design Group needs and that effectively display the transportation facilities of Portland.

In addition to photography, I’m currently working on a video to submit to a National Institute of Transportation video competition. My video focuses on exploring and investigating the connection between livability and transportation. The video begins by looking at my personal experiences with transportation in the city and then widens the scope to consider the experiences in the whole city and on a national scale. The video also focuses on highlighting the transportation in Portland and how it helps to shape the living experiences of its citizens.

Portland officeAltogether, my experience working for Toole Design Group has been an incredibly delightful and rewarding first venture into the working world.  Working for them, I’ve been given a unique opportunity to take what I love to do (in this case, photography and film making) and use it in a professional setting. The firm’s focus on sustainability, a topic I am passionate about, has allowed me to use my skills to benefit an issue that is important to me personally and extremely important in our modern world. This internship has given me insight into how my skills and interests can be used in the workplace to have a positive impact on issues that are important to me.

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