Hello, Portland startup community! I’m Nate Angell


Born in 1964 to a generation without a name, Nate Angell was raised in rural Colorado. First in Evergreen, then later on a 400-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere and way too close to Utah.

Nate didn’t go to school much as a kid, but when he did, it was mostly to a public, open school with a curriculum based on the Australian aboriginal walkabout. Based on his constant readiness to “go to town,” Nate went to college in New York City, first at NYU, where he didn’t learn much except how to translate Talking Heads songs into Latin, then at Columbia, where he studied Mexican and Argentinean history and culture and explained how low-riders demonstrate an intentional misrecognition of Marxist exchange values. Over-compensating for his early lack of schooling, Nate continued on to get an MA at Brown, finally going ABD for PhD in so-called American Civilization, but mostly studying and teaching in the Department of Modern Culture and Media, focused on film, television and technology studies.

At some point, Nate found time to live in Spain, Mexico and work for disparate institutions, becoming an evangelist focused on community development, digital communications, meaningful education, open technologies, and sustainable growth. He has worked across a wide variety of organizations, including open-source technology providers like Hypothesis and rSmart, Oregon startups like Lumen Learning and Little Bird, global communities like the Apereo Foundation, Mozilla Open Leaders, MYFest, and Virtually Connecting, and public/nonprofit institutions like Portland State University and the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry.

In 1995, Nate wed stunning, talented, and wickedly smart Heather Angell, then trading his maiden name for his wife’s. Call it virtue signaling, but who wouldn’t trade a long German name that means “babbling brook” for a name like “Angell”? In 1998, Nate and Heather moved from NYC to Portland, Oregon, his uxorial and maternal ancestral city. Being breeders, Nate and Heather then bred two daughters who seem to have inherited only the good traits of their parents.

What are you up to…?

Currently, I’m leading communications and community for Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/), the international nonprofit organization that stewards the open infrastructure that helps make projects like Wikipedia (https://www.wikipedia.org/), OpenStax (https://openstax.org/), and bioRxiv (https://www.biorxiv.org/) possible (look for the CC license on the bottom of every Wikipedia page). My mission at CC is to help make sure the big, messy collection of knowledge and culture we call “the internet” has as much high-quality, open content as possible and supports what at CC we call “better sharing”: sharing that is contextual, inclusive, just, equitable, reciprocal, and sustainable.

Why Portland?

Sometimes I think what it will be like when our 300-year-ish experiment with the modern nation-state comes to an end and we degenerate into various fiefdoms and global commercial entities. Maybe then Portland will be one of the great city-states where interesting things happen and cool people cross paths on neutral ground. Wait, maybe this happened already…

I really appreciate the human qualities of Portland: things like the cool side projects lots of Portlanders have, the relative priority of walking, biking and public transport over car-culture, and our experiments in urban design and representative politics. My hottest take is that the food and drink is better in Portland than in Europe. While it’s still true that specific places in Europe have that one special cheese that conveys the unique taste of local sheep fodder, that one special beer brewed by monks since medieval times, or that one special wine with a nose from vines growing in age-old terroir, but in Portland you can eat awesome versions of almost any cheese, graze on bounteous fresh produce, drink amazing beer from pilsners to stouts and everything in between, and even find good vegan and gluten-free options — much of it produced locally. The PDX foodshed rox!


Though I’ve long been an avid Twitter user @xolotl (https://twitter.com/xolotl), given the recent turmoil in social media, you might best connect with me via my blog (http://xolotl.org/), on Mastodon (https://social.coop/@xolotl), or on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nateangell/).

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  1. This is one of the most fun things I have read in a long time.
    Nice job, and a rad sounding dude!

  2. […] bit of effort, but I’m really happy to see this gaining some momentum. thanks to Zhou. Ben, Nate is we’re starting to reboot. What Raven Zachary called “slow social networking” […]

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