Hi, I’m Benjamin Chait. After backpacking around the world, I moved to Portland, Oregon which serves as home base for exploring and adventures. Say hello @benjaminchait (or email) and let’s grab coffee?

Thirty

Today is thirty.

As I take a moment to think about where I am, and what amazing opportunities and experiences I have had thus far, I am humbled and thankful. Eager and excited. So incredibly fortunate to have an amazing partner, a loving pup and to be surrounded by incredibly people both at work and beyond. To have built a community here in Portland. 

I’m often reminded about how much I have grown, and myself changed. When I was eighteen and headed to university, I—like any recent high-school graduate—thought I knew everything: what I wanted to be when I grew up, what I was going to study and who I wanted to be. It only took a few short weeks of my freshman year before I realized how wrong I was; rather, how much I had to learn.

Fast forward to graduating college: I was fortunate to work in a job I loved, splitting time between Colorado and California. At that point, I realized how much I had changed in only a few short years, and began to recognize where I was spending my time and energy. I wasn’t working in politics; in many ways, I wasn’t as involved as I wanted to be. And then I found a great opportunity; being at the right place at the right time gave me a chance to participate, and to build a new set of friendships which I still have today. This was great, for a while, but I soon began to feel restless.

Eventually, I took a leap of faith and invested my time, money and energy in travel, and in myself. It was challenging, amazing, eye-opening. It wasn’t what I expected; then again, what transformative experience actually is? I started to pay attention to my heart.

And now comes my time in Portland. Our time in Portland. Sarah and I been here three-and-a-half years, and I love this place. The people, the coffee, the outdoors. And I begin to realize: I am who I a today, because of everyone, everything around me. And I realize, without a doubt, I am not the same person I was when I first arrived here. I’m learning empathy, and how to slow down. I’m learning the simple joy of coming home, to a pup who is adoring and excited and happy. A kitten who keeps to herself by day, but sneaks up to lie beside (or on top of) me every evening. I have a loving partner, who is incredible and drives me to be my best self.

And I think about who I want to be, should I one day grow up, and I realize: I am exactly where I want to be, and who I want to be.

Thirty on the thirtieth.

Three years west

The sun came out after a rainy morning, one last warm glow in 2016. Not quite cold, though not quite the warm California weather we were expecting. Rather, hoping. 

Looking outward, the past year has been rough. But personally, 2016 was good. Kippa joined our family, Sarah was admitted into (and accepted) a graduate program and we continued to explore and enjoy the Pacific Northwest. We’ve made new friends, and become more active in our community. 

I also accomplished two small, silly goals I set for myself one year ago: practice French and post a photo every day. (Being a leap year, I succeeded in both of these 366 times.) By no means am I fluent, nor a professional photographer; instead, I’m feeling more confident, and making practice a part of my routine. Small habits are hard to build, but I’m excited to have proven I can. 

I’m not quite sure what 2017 will look like. I’m more anxious today than I was this time last year. But I’m also fortunate to have friends and family with me in this journey. 

Stronger together

I still have hope. 

I believe that we can build a better future. That our communities can be stronger. That we can find those values which unite us, and to prove that we are better-off collaborating, building up one-another. 

During my lifetime, I believe that the United States will elect a woman to the highest office. I believe we will learn to celebrate our differences, whether in beliefs or backgrounds or experiences. I believe kindness will prevail. 

Before that, though, we have this. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I have fears about the next four years. 

But I still believe that love trumps hate. 

Summer recap

Since May: Portland; Columbus; road trip back to Portland (including stopovers in St Louis, Boulder and Boise); Salt Lake City (well, Snowbird); Portland; Boulder; Portland; Denver; and back to Portland.

Ohio lights

Grace, Sarah’s younger sister, joined us in Oregon for the summer.

Grace and Benjamin

Photo booth

Sarah and I attended a wedding, and XOXO 2016. I flew back to support TEDxBoulder 2016.

Backstage at TEDxBoulder

And in the midst of that, Kippa joined the family.

Baby Kippa

Kippa. She is a delight. Sarah flew to Colorado to pick-up our pup at eight weeks old; she weighed thirteen pounds the last few days of June. About a week ago, at five months old, our little puppy is over fifty pounds! So many stories, and many more photographs.

Young Kippa

Kippa portrait

Kippa relaxing

Finding time to write is challenging; so many competing priorities day-to-day. Trying to get back into the swing of it.

Portland Bridge Pedal sunrise

But really, spending time where it matters. Like with my parents as they visited for the weekend, and got to meet the pup for the first time!

Parents and the pup

Ignite Boulder 29

About a month ago, I was asked if I would talk at Ignite Boulder 29. Though I supported it for some seven years as an organizer, I had never once been on stage to present a five-minute “spark” (what we call a talk). So I said yes, expecting I would have plenty of time to prepare and share something interesting. Five weeks later, and I was struggling with a topic; Sunday night before the Thursday event I scrapped my previous ideas and furiously set to work creating some visuals to share a travel story and some thoughts. This was a small test of my own limits, all the meanwhile reminding myself that I could do this.

And in short, I did.

(YouTube video)

Was it my best talk ever? Probably not. And yes, I was a bit anxious about standing in front of a packed room at the Boulder Theater. But I recognize something, following that evening: folks want you to succeed. And that’s a fantastic audience to have.

Wonderland

Building community is important to me. Whether we live together in a neighborhood, the same city, within a single state, in a country or merely on this same earth — our lives are connected. We (hopefully) spend our daytime hours working alongside like-minded individuals toward a common goal.

When moving to Portland, I sought out to build a new community and group of friends. I’m fortunate to have met and been invited to help support the folks who organize TEDxPortland. Last Saturday was my third event in the Rose City, and the team’s sixth year: TEDxPortland 2016. Our hope was to inspire, and celebrate, this amazing area which we call home.

Wonderland

Today, the city and region are changing fast. Growth is exciting, and brings with it new challenges. I’m here to participate, and to build a better place.

Delayed packing

This time last week, I sat in my childhood bedroom. Clothes and other goods ready to be packed, strewn across the floor and over the bed. But instead of packing in any reasonable manner, I spent the evening reflecting.


My love for Boulder is endless, a beautiful small town along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Skiing is almost second-nature, having grown up spending weekends on the slopes only an hour or so away. Picturesque landscapes and exploration of the outdoors fill my memories. I cannot imagine growing up anyplace else. And yet, this place now feels small.

Returning allows me to see not just family, but those friends I’ve made over the years—whether from growing up here, to university, to my first few years after school. We’re all growing up, so quickly, so fast. We’ve found new adventures, new friends. But we have a common thread, those shared experiences which make us who we are today.


A lot has changed since I last called this place my home. Over the past few years, I’ve grown and learned and explored and made a new place for myself in PDX. But I always cherish those opportunities to visit Colorado. I finished packing past midnight, occasionally looking out into the moonlit landscape. Remembering, and celebrating, those moments which led me here.


Starting 2016 in Santa Barbara

With Sarah’s family in Santa Barbara for the holiday, a quick flight and ocean escape made for a fun and sunny way to bring in the new year. Days full of coffee and wine, great food, enjoying films and the beach, enjoying books, and spending time with delightful people.

Two years west

Portland has been home for two years, and in that time I’ve hardly written. So here’s a recap.

Moving to a new city is challenging. Part of it is overwhelming, the constant learning and discovery upon adventuring in a new place. Streets have silly names, I can turn at a stoplight with a red arrow (seriously, Oregon?). Another part is loneliness, not having those friends I’ve known for years. But over time, those feelings change, and the confusion is replaced with delight when encountering a new favorite coffee shop and building new friendships.

The Pacific coast is amazing for adventures. An hour west and you reach the Oregon coast, a perfect weekend getaway with friends. To the north, Seattle is a quick trip, with Vancouver only a bit farther. East of Portland lie the Gorge and Hood River, for hikes and quiet escapes. Some distance further, the town of Bend and its many breweries. And short flights south bring us to San Francisco and Los Angeles and Southern California, to visit family and find some sun in the rainy winter months.

This time last year, I had my Trek commuting bike stolen. It sucked. But it’s a good reminder that things are replaceable, and that good things take time. I have a new bike, perfect for these rainy winters. And I’m having even more fun riding around, exploring.

Excited for the next two.

One year west

A year passes faster than expected. Full of surprises and new adventures, Portland has been a chance for new beginnings. And no, I have not written nearly enough. Plenty of challenges and surprises filled the past twelve months; I’m looking forward to what comes next.