New Head PUGGER, goodbye from Douglas



After four years, this is the last time I'll get to write to you as Head PUGGER. In four years, it’s grown to about 1,000 students and 80 courses a year. This is bittersweet.

I'm pleased to announce the new owner and leader of Portland Underground Grad School: Steph Routh! She takes over December 1. Steph, a born and raised Oregonian, is a longtime activist, agitator, and organizer. A partial list of her amazing background: she's been the Executive Director of Oregon Walks and communications director of Community Cycling Center, as well as a host of the Why Isn't Anyone Talking About This and City Club podcasts. If you look at her resume, I think you'll agree that she's uniquely qualified to take over PUGS and make it better. I'm super excited to see where she takes us in the coming years.

Steph will be back to you with her own message next week! 

I'm so grateful for the chance to lead PUGS. I got to create the thing I wanted: learning and community for everyday life. A quote from Charlie Jones encapsulates it: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”  Because I've met so many new people and learned so much from so many amazing instructors and students, I'm a very different person than I was four years ago. I'm more aware, creative, flexible, fulfilled, generous, improvising, inclusive, informed, initiating, rooted, self-aware, strategic, + wild. Because of you. I'm grateful to you. 

And I hope we all continue learning and growing together in the coming years.

So what will I be doing next? 

1. I'm starting another school! It's called Mycelium and it's a five month business school for small business owners. In nature (learned in Mulysa Melco's Decoding Plants course!), the mycelium is the network of nutrients and relationships underground that lets the forest grow. My new school Mycelium is essentially that: a network of knowledge and relationships that will help small businesse owners serve the community better and become more profitable. It's the thing I wanted myself when I was running PUGS, so again I'm building the thing I wanted. If you're a small business owner and might be interested, sign up for the newsletter and get a sample of the curriculum. 

2. I'll continue teaching at PUGS! In fact, two of the three December courses are mine. I've discovered real joy in teaching Financial Freedom. The most recent cohort just finished up on Sunday and every time, I'm honored by the feedback students have at the end. The next group starts December 1 so if you're interested, sign up soon. There are about 5 spots left.

This course has been so empowering and eye-opening. I’ve been slowly getting my head out of the sand around my finances for a few years now, but this course really changed my trajectory. I used to hate talking about finances and thought that I wasn’t good at it-- but I love that I’m choosing to read more, seeking out knowledge and books on the subject-- for fun!! It’s like I’ve uncovered a whole new me!  - Student in fall FF1 cohort

I'm excited for Steph to take over PUGS. I think she what it takes to make it an institution of radical learning and self-improvement in Portland. That's the thing I loved most: PUGGERS are people who want to improve their status quo. And THE status quo. We need more people who want to learn how to make this world a better place. We need places for them to convene and to learn together. I hope PUGS does that for you in the coming years.

Stay in touch! I can be reached at

With gratitude,