When Mitch Bacon moved his counseling practice into an übercool Southeast Portland office, it looked the epitome of therapy chic, all corduroy blazers and leather couches. Something was wrong, though—his mostly male client base seemed detached. Bacon, a 32-year-old former wilderness therapy guide, felt it, too. When he’d worked in the Idaho woods, he watched the natural environment allow clients to escape distraction and respond to the moment. Indoors, that simply wasn’t happening.
His solution was to bridge the gap between the wilderness and Portland’s urban landscape with a new new office: a yurt sitting in the backyard of SE Woodstock Boulevard’s Portland Family Health and surrounded by a garden. Bacon believes this unconventional setting facilitates conversation—and observation. “It’s easy to get into airing dirty laundry,” he says of his work with couples. “Put them in a space where it becomes, ‘Here, let’s plant this,’ and you force them to expose how they interact.”
Bacon’s move certainly paved the way to new connections: he built the yurt after a crowdfunding campaign in which donors surpassed his original goal. “It’s taught me how engaged people can be when a vision involves passion and the community,” he says. “People want to do things they believe in.”