I had the opportunity this week to spend a day in the Twin Cities – a gorgeous fall day in the land of ten thousand lakes. Part of my reason for being there was to meet with our thermowood partner, Superior Thermowood. However, I was able to squeeze in several other activities while I was there.
The day started out with a meeting at Wood from the Hood, a company that will be supplying us with urban wood for our Boulevard wood products. Owner Rick and Cindy Siewart have built a vibrant urban lumber business. Ten years ago they began collecting logs from trees felled in the City of Minneapolis, and have gradually expanded to accepting logs from homeowners and tree services from the entire Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Initially they milled the urban lumber and sold it to craftsmen and builders in the area. Over time they’ve expanded to create a series of consumer products made from the locally harvested wood. They are one of the few companies across the country that have managed to create a business in urban lumber – they deserve credit as true pioneers, and we look forward to continuing to support their efforts.
Wood from the Hood will be collecting ash logs from around the Twin Cities and rough milling them for us. Unfortunately, the Emerald Ash Borer has reached the area and municipalities are proactively removing ash trees to proactively deal with the problem. Wood from the Hood has been turning down many of these trees, as they didn’t have demand for the amount of material available. We’re extremely pleased that they have additional milling capacity, and look forward to converting it to thermally-modified Boulevard products.
From there I headed over to the Recycling Assoc. of Minnesota/Solid Waste Assoc. of Nort America (SWANA – MN chapter) conference. We were on the agenda in the “Innovative Recycling and Reuse” session. I introduced the combination of thermal modification and urban wood as a way to reduce the demand for South American hardwoods, as well as upcycle trees that would otherwise be chipped or mulch. While most of the group had never heard of ipe, it wasn’t hard to convince the audience that we’re really onto something with the concept of Boulevard wood.
If you think recycling and waste removal is mundane, you should see some of the creative and forward thinking programs that were being discussed. One of the other speakers spearheaded a program at the Univ. of Minnesota that kept more than 100,000 lbs. of student end-of-the-year throwaways out of the landfill, distributing the usable material to non-profits in the Twin Cities. Another speaker discussed the educational programming they’ve created to teach recycling to the elementary- and middle-school crowd. These are topics that truly affect us all!
By the way, the topic of my presentation was “Wood, technology and doing the right thing”. If any group would like to hear the 20 minute presentation, either live or via the web, just drop me an email.