When someone in Portland needs a mermaid, Una is who they call. She leads a pack of merfolk who set up a lagoon at yoga store openings or convention halls, or at random creeks and fountains. This year, she will lead Portland's first Mermaid Parade along the waterfront—the mermaids are carried in wagons and wheelchairs, as walking is difficult with a tail. You can enlist her at unathemermaid.com—she works on the barter system, not for money.

(Christine Dong)
(Christine Dong)

The self-proclaimed guardian of the sad and protector of the Fanta Sea Cove, Una claims to have moved to town with a pirate whose ship, The Outrageous Fortune, had sunk in an epically slow battle with the Giant Sea Sloth. But in her landlubbing life, she teaches empathy and nonviolence at a prison—and is getting a doctorate in transpersonal psychology.

She says her lagoons—whether a blow-up pool or 3,000 gallon tank— especially attract women and children who've experienced some kind of trauma. "People were hungry for imagination," Una says. "Once you engage with them a little bit, they accept that there are actually mermaids in the fountain. They know we're not real, but their heart and imagination accepts it."

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