National Treasure 3: Rise of the Kraken

Fellowship Ceremony with Cherise Lakeside Blog  CONSTRUCT 2019

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD, October 10, 2019 – On paper, Cherise Lakeside, FCSI, CDT and I don’t seem to have much in common.  She thrives on Twitter; I despise the social media platform.  She’s extroverted and outgoing; I’m introverted and prefer to be alone.  She’s a Dallas Cowboys fan; I have a soul.  Yet despite these differences, Cherise and I have formed a certain kinship over the years.  To be sure, anyone who’s had the pleasure of knowing her no doubt feels a similar connection.  Her humor, wit, wisdom, and overall personality are infectious – simply put, it just feels good to be around her.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI,) bestowed Fellowship on Cherise at the 2019 CONSTRUCT Show – one of the top two honors given by the Institute, and awarded to only three people in the nation this year. (!!!)  From the Institute:

Cherise Lakeside, FCSI, CDT – For your passion in promoting CSI standards and principles; for your continuous efforts in encouraging CSI Certification to both members and non-members; for your dynamic leadership in engaging Young Professionals and creating the Young Professionals program at the annual convention; for your exemplary “Can do!” attitude; and for your fearless refusal to accept things simply “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it!”

I can personally vouch for all of that!!  To other Portland AEC organizations – in the words of Kanye West – Imna let you finish, but Portland CSI is the best and most supportive program in town for emerging professionals.  It just is.  And it is in large part because of Cherise.

Fellowship Ceremony with Cherise Lakeside

Story Time

A few years ago I was talking with Cherise about some dumb idea I had for an event, but didn’t know how to go about doing it.  I remember her immediately saying, “Do it through CSI.  We’ll help you.  We have the resources and the audience, and we want to help you make your idea a reality.”  When my lizard brain took over and I asked, “But what if it fails?,” Cherise responded with a whole-hearted “Who cares?”  She told the story of another CSI member who had an idea to host an event at a Timbers game – do some tailgating, watch the game, and have a good time.  They spent a bunch of money on it, reserving seats and stuff, and on the day of the event…nobody really showed up.  And nobody got upset about it.  It’s a thing they tried, it didn’t work that time, and they learned from it and moved on.  How refreshing it was to hear that story, to see that level of support and encouragement of emerging professionals, especially when I was hearing it at a time when my ideas for another organization were getting laughed at and shot down left and right.  I was all-in Team Cherise from that day forward.

The other story I should share is from CSI’s Industry Forum 2017 (an event for which Portland CSI won a national award this year – more on that in a minute.)  Our mutual friend Michael Riscica of Young Architect had recently launched his now-popular Young Architect Podcast.  Cherise had recently recorded an episode on it, and I had recently been invited to – and declined – recording an episode of my own.  Cherise and I chatted about her episode at Industry Forum, after which I confessed my declining to be interviewed for (again, lizard brain FTW!) not wanting to hear my voice and not thinking I had anything of significance to say.  She got really mad at me, scolding me and telling me that I did, too, have important things to share with the world, and that my voice was pleasant to listen to.  She challenged me to record the stinkin’ podcast.

Fast forward to September 2019, when I once again received an invitation from Michael and his team to record a podcast.  Cherise’s words had always clung to me, and event 2+ years later, they gave me the courage to accept the podcast.  And I recorded it.  And I still haven’t listened to it because I still don’t want to hear it.  I’ve been told it’s very good though.

The evening before CONSTRUCT 2019 kicked off, I was sitting in a bar in National Harbor, Maryland, watching my beloved Minnesota Twins get swept by the Yankees in the ALDS.  Out of nowhere, Cherise popped up, finding me there due to a Facebook check-in of mine earlier in the evening (stalk much, Cherise?!?)  We got to talking about the podcast, my recording of it, and the influence that her words had on me two years prior.

“John, you’ve just made my week,” she said.  “Cherise,” I replied, “you’re being awarded Fellowship in two days…obviously my story is definitely NOT the highlight of your week.”  “But it is,” she said, “an award is just an award.  It’s great, but it’s not why I do what I do.”  She went on to continue being inspiring as hell, saying that being a mentor and having an impact on me stepping outside of my comfort zone is the kind of thing that gets her out of bed every day.  Something like that.  I was already pretty deep into drowning my sorrows of the Twins impending loss, so don’t quote me.  I can say with confidence, however, that it was selfless, inspiring, indicative of why she’s Fellow-worthy, and it reaffirmed the gratitude I have for the privilege of knowing her.

Portland CSI members at CONSTRUCT 2019. October 10, 2019.

Enough Already!

Alright, Cherise, your 15 minutes of fame are up.  You’ve dedicated your life to the industry, you’re a mentor and an inspiration to a generation of people, your actions, programs, and events have changed lives, you’re one of the top spec writers in Portland, if not the country, your personal story of how you got to here is disgustingly inspiring in and of itself, and the honor of Fellowship is not only overdue, but also somehow still doesn’t seem like enough to properly recognize you for all that you’ve given to the rest of us.  Yadda, yadda, big whoop.  Other things happened at the Awards ceremony, too, you know!  It wasn’t all just about you.  It’s time to move on and see what ELSE happened in the world of Portland CSI at the CONSTRUCT 2019 Awards.

Portland CSI President Ali LaManna Accepts the Outstanding Chapter Commendation

Our (Literally!) Outstanding Chapter

So Cherise was honored with Fellowship as part of the CSI “Honors & Awards Ceremony,” and that honor was just one of several that our Portland CSI Chapter and its members received that evening.

Communications Award
The Portland CSI Chapter was honored with a Communications Award in the category of Digital Communications.  The award is presented to “a CSI Member, Chapter, Region, or Group for outstanding effort in the communication of CSI related topics and activities.”  Once again, from the Institute:

“For impressively organizing, editing, and promoting the Portland, Oregon Chapter through many forms of communications including their newsletter, The Predicator; YouTube channel; social media incorporating Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn; and the updated website, which supports and promotes the values of the Portland Chapter, Northwest Region, and the Institute.”

Outstanding Contribution Award
This award is presented to “a CSI Member, Chapter, Region, or Group that has made commendable contributions that: furthers the influence of CSI in the local construction industry; increases the visibility of CSI in the local construction industry; or provides a value-added service to the chapter, region, or Institute.”  Our Portland Chapter received this honor:

“For creating an innovative educational event [the aforementioned Industry Forum] which is highly regarded by the building and design community, both locally and regionally, and continuing to change and improve through partnerships with allied organizations such as AIA and the Building Enclosure Council.”

Yes, the chapter certainly is stellar at partnering with other organizations!  I’ve worked with them on several occasions, both through Design Pup, and during my time volunteering with AIA Portland.  In fact, Portland CSI has an upcoming Ugly Sweater Holiday Mixer event in which they’re partnering with EIGHT (!!!) other local organizations to host.

Outstanding Chapter Commendation
To be completely honest, I’ve done a lot of research trying to figure out what it takes to win this award, and I still have no idea.  It’s a seven-page application where the chapter documents everything from proof that they’ve followed the bylaws, to ensuring people are actively attending events and that they’re hosting events.  It’s a rigorous process ensuring that chapters meeting the criteria and receiving this commendation are among the most active, well-organized, and best-serving of their communities in the nation.  A designation that’s well-deserved for this rockstar chapter.

Portland CSI members at CONSTRUCT 2019. October 10, 2019.

In Closing

I always knew that Cherise was great, and that we had a CSI Chapter in Portland that was second to none, but it really took flying across the country to our Nation’s Capital and spending a few days with my fellow (er…and non-Fellow?) Portland CSI members to understand how truly special this group is.  Attending this conference propelled me forward in a lot of really big ways.  I met some new friends who I’ve really connected with and admire.  I re-connected with the friends I already had and got to know them better.  I got to re-connect with a friend and mentor from the Minneapolis-St Paul Chapter who helped get me involved in CSI in the first place almost exactly 10 years ago.

Wherever you are reading this, if you’re in the A/E/C industry and aren’t familiar with it, please take some time to look into it, and consider joining.  Especially if you’re in Portland – you just read 1,500 words showing you how special our chapter is, a result of the phenomenal people who make it happen.  Take advantage of it.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how rare and special groups like this are.  I mean, if a Cowboys fan was able to figure it out, how hard can it be?

About the CONSTRUCT 2019 Article Series

Portland Design Pup traveled to National Harbor, Maryland for CONSTRUCT 2019 this past October 9th-11th to explore the influence that Portland architects, engineers, contractors, and designers are having on the national AEC scene. We attended 7 sessions led by Portlanders, as well as the investiture ceremony for the 2019 Class of Fellows, which included Portland CSI member Cherise Lakeside. We will be sharing images and recaps of each event in a 3 part series of articles, of which this is the third.

About CONSTRUCT 2019

CONSTRUCT is an AEC educational program and exhibition that has the goal of bringing together the different disciplines within the construction industry to help improve the future of the built environment. Breaking down the barriers between the different players within the construction process allows for a more collaborative work environment. CONSTRUCT is the place to share the latest in standards and best practices, industry trends, and emerging technologies. Join Construction Architects, Designers, Specifiers, Engineers, Project Managers, Contractors, Construction Managers, Estimators, Owners, Product Representatives, and Manufacturers for cutting-edge, solutions-driven learning opportunities.

About the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI)

Founded in 1948, CSI is a national association of more than 8,000 experts in building construction and the materials used therein. We are dedicated to improving the communication of construction information through:

  • A diversified membership base of allied professionals involved in the creation and management of the built environment. Join us!
  • Continuous development and transformation of standards and formats.
  • Education and certification of professionals to improve project delivery processes.
  • Creation of practice tools to assist users throughout the facility life-cycle.
[Our mission is] to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.

Images courtesy Timothy Niou Photography unless noted otherwise. Note: This post is sponsored in part by Portland CSI, and originally posted on Portland Design Pup. It is used with permission elsewhere by Portland CSI.