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Urban Lumber Business Strategies Theme of May 13 UWN Webinar

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) will present part three of its Future Visioning webinar series on May 13 with “Urban Lumber Business.”  UWN invites municipalities, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers, advocates and all others interested in advancing the urban wood movement to participate in this 75-minute webinar.

The Urban Lumber Business webinar will highlight proven strategies for scaling up and marketing an urban wood business. It will include how to use the new urban wood industry standard and chain-of-custody certification to simplify a business’s processes. The presentation will also walk participants through some of the bottlenecks that exist in urban lumber processes and how to overcome them.

This webinar has been approved for 1.25 CEUs through ISA: BCMA Management, Certified Arborist, and Municipal Specialist.

UWN Future Visioning Webinar Schedule
March 11: The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning
WATCH ON DEMAND

April 8: Urban Lumber Standards
AVAILABLE ON DEMAND SOON

May 13: Urban Lumber Business

June 10: What to Do with the Rest of the Tree(s)

July 8: Forming a State Organization: Nebraska Urban Wood
REGISTER NOW FOR ANY OR ALL WEBINARS



At-risk Youth Learn About Urban Wood

Editor’s note: The following article was written by Lekas & Levine Public Relations.

That buzzing sound recently heard throughout Allendale’s Lake Villa campus was the sound of transformation at work.

Literally, it was a large hydraulic sawmill cutting fallen trees into slabs, the first step to turning those dying white oaks into timeless handcrafted furniture.

In a deeper sense, it echoed Allendale Association’s mission of helping youth who have experienced various forms of trauma and adversity find their strength and capacity, transforming over time into healthy, independent adults.

The new, repurposed wood program is a collaboration between Allendale — a not-for-profit facility for kids with serious emotional, mental and behavioral challenges — and Jeff Clark, owner of Old School Timber Works Company in Libertyville. Clark is passionate about repurposing Illinois’ urban hardwood, as well as teaching life skills to at-risk youth.

Woodworking has long been a part of Allendale’s Career and Technical Education Program, which helps students develop vocational skills. Its wood shop instructor, Rob Serdar, a third-generation carpenter, was seeking ways to develop the program when the opportunity arose.

“Our hope is to expand our students’ imaginations and capabilities,” Serdar said, “while providing locally-sourced, high-quality wood pieces that will bring exposure to Allendale and give students a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

In addition, Clark — whose company provides on-site milling services, sells repurposed lumber and creates custom wood pieces — believes students will benefit from a better understanding of responsibly sourcing their lumber.

The process is known as Tree to Table; i.e., repurposing fallen lumber into furniture and goods rather than dumping and chipping it.

“Over a billion board feet of quality urban hardwood is wasted every year in the U.S.,” Clark said.

“These kids were part of a sustainable process in which they created beautiful, white oak lumber, saving and repurposing a worthy asset. Maybe that’s a life lesson that goes beyond milling lumber.”

One day in December, Clark brought his sawmill to Allendale’s 120-acre, wooded campus. He cut several downed white oaks into slabs, while the wood shop students cleaned, transported and stacked the slabs in preparation for the next step: curing them in Allendale’s new kiln.

The kiln, a large space filled with fans and dehumidifiers that dry out the wood, was funded through a grant provided by the Grace Bersted Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The grant also provided for initial supplies needed to get the program running.

Days after the event, students were still talking about it and itching to get their hands on the wood. Since then, they’ve used it to make several pieces of furniture and decorative home signs. Clark is slated to share tips and techniques in upcoming classes.

As the students’ skills advance, Serdar said, they’ll start building more elaborate tables, shelving and benches, as well as cutting boards, Charcuturie platters and decorative wood signs.

Some of the benches will be placed around campus and donated to the village of Lake Villa. In addition, creations will be sold at Allendale’s community craft and floral sales, perhaps as early as spring.

The proceeds will not only fund the purchase of ongoing supplies, but benefit the students’ vocational stipends. Meanwhile, as salvaged wood products become increasingly popular, the kids are gaining the skills to secure a place in this growing field, along with an appreciation for the environment and a lifelong passion that will serve them well.



Slideshow: Nebraska’s Ash Wood Showcase

 
The creative output of more than 20 woodworkers and artists was featured in the Ash Wood Showcase held last month at Turbine Flats in Lincoln, NE.
 
The event, part of Lincoln’s First Friday Artwalk, was facilitated by the Nebraska Forest Service. More than 200 people viewed the furniture and crafts, a sampling of which is displayed in the accompanying slideshow.
 
“The response was incredibly positive,” said Heather Norbert, forest products marketing coordinator for the Nebraska Forest Service. “During the event we also had our forest health staff there to answer questions about the emerald ash borer. They said they talked to more folks at this event than they typically do at agricultural events. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department was there as were representatives from a few local wood products businesses. All in all the event was quite successful.”

The ash wood used in the showcase was donated by the city of Lincoln, milled by the forest service and dried at Big Red Sawmill in Palmyra, NE.

The emerald ash borer’s migration to Lincoln threatens more than 50,000 private and public ash trees. 



Oh No! Coronavirus!

The unsettling uncertainty gripping the world, alternatively known as the coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 crisis, has paused life as we know it.

On a personal level, my wife and I have – sadly – gotten use to taking “no” for an answer, as plans we eagerly looked forward to have been cancelled or at the very least postponed indefinitely. Just a short list:

  • No commencement for our daughter finishing her senior year at the University of Illinois.
  • No annual progressive dinner party with neighbors.
  • No birthday celebrations with family, In fact, no family get-togethers at all as we collectively practice social distancing to stall the spread of COVID-19.
  • Rescheduling of our oldest daughter’s wedding from June 27 of this year to July 10 of next.
One “no” that we were happy to accept was when our middle daughter tested negative for COVID-19.

I know that each of you reading this post can rattle off a personal list of inconveniences created by the crisis, including possibly graver life and death matters. (I hope not.)

Just as major sporting events like March Madness and Major League Baseball have been cancelled or delayed, so have events tied to urban forestry, including, for example, Wisconsin Urban Wood’s March 25 membership meeting, the April 4 volunteer tree planting in Atlanta and April 30 Vermont Arbor Day Conference. 

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I don’t know when, but I know we will get through this and be stronger for it. The optimist in me says I will keep my date to walk my daughter down the aisle. It’s with that same resolve of moving forward that I am working with the Urban Wood Network to organize the third urban wood seminar on August 26 at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. 

As I hunker down with my family to ride out the COVID-19 chaos, I see that the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Better days lie ahead.

Stay safe! Stay strong!
Rich Christianson

 



UWN Presents Urban Lumber Standards in April 8 Webinar

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) continues its 2020 webinar series on April 8 with Urban Lumber Standards. UWN invites municipalities, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers, advocates and all others interested in advancing the urban wood movement to participate in one or all of these 75-minute webinars.

Each of the webinars is scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. Mountain, 12 p.m. Central, and 1 p.m. Eastern. In addition, the recorded webinars will be archived on UWN’s website.

Webinar #2: Urban Lumber Standards – April 8, 2020
One of the things that keeps coming to light in order to take our industry to the next level and rescue more trees is to get urban woods specified by more architects and designers, and therefore sell more product, is the need for industry Standards and Chain-of-Custody. These standards and chain-of-custody certification will build confidence in architects and designers to spec locally grown urban wood products. After a peer review process and input from urban wood stakeholders from various backgrounds and experiences located coast to coast and Canada we now have Urban Wood Industry Standards and chain of custody certification. This webinar will highlight the new pathways for urban woods to be certified.

Join Webinar

UWN’s 2020 Future Visioning Webinar Series schedule:

  • The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning – March 11, 2020
    Watch on demand.
  • Urban Lumber Standards – April 8, 2020
  • Urban Lumber Business – May 13, 2020
  • What to do with the rest of the Tree(s) – June 10, 2020


Award-Winning Book Celebrates Chicago Tree Project

Chicago-area Sculptor Margot McMahon, whose works with urban wood were featured here in a January post, is also the author of “The Fifth Season: The Chicago Tree Project.” The book won first place in the annual state-wide Mate E. Palmer Professional Communications Contest. McMahon’s salute to public tree art qualifies for judging in the NFPW national contest.

The book showcases 50 dead trees sculpted by 30 renown artists – including the author – gracing dozens of Chicago Park District parks.

From McMahon’s website: “The first section of the book is an explanation of the importance of keeping condemned trees in urban nature. The second section is poetry of the vital life within a dying tree including feeding birds, creating burrows for animals and interactions with the grove of like trees. The third section is a service workshop to care for the park and parkway saplings.”

The book, published by Lambert Academic Publishing, is available on Amazon

McMahon was recognized by the Illinois Woman’s Press Association with the 2019 Mate E. Palmer First Place Public Service Award for her contributions to the Chicago Tree Project. Learn more at thechicagotreeproject.org.



Grinnell College’s felled walnut trees graduate into benches

  • Small walnut bench displayed during 2019 alumni weekend at Grinnell College.
(Note: Slide captions at end of post.)
 
By Kevin Field
 
A while back, I received a very intriguing email. Grinnell College of Grinnell, IA, – my alma mater – was planning a major expansion of one of its oldest instructional buildings, and several very large, black walnut trees stood within the new-construction footprint.
 
Chris Bair, the college’s environmental and safety coordinator, contacted me and several other alum woodworkers to solicit proposals for using the urban (campus) harvest to create commissioned benches for the new and newly renovated buildings. A full circle. How cool was that?!
 
Luckily, I was able to meet with Chris onsite – before the trees were felled – to advise on sectioning, milling and air drying.
 
Howard McDonough and Mick Goebel slabbed the 70- to 80-year-old trees. Two years later, I transported a number of air-dried, 2” x 24” x 8’ black walnut slabs from Iowa to my shop in Westmont, IL. I air-dried them to 7% moisture content (MC) in my dining room over the winter. (I had to kick the wife out first – proceed with caution.) In the spring, I constructed two commissioned benches I designed for the college to display within the new building.
 
The ball-shaped defect in the close-up photo of the back rail of the longer of the two benches is a lead bullet! I found a number of bullets embedded in the tree, and was able to incorporate a visible example into the bench design under a clear epoxy filler. The presence of the bullets is an intriguing mystery as the walnut trees were located right in the middle of campus – not a location where guns would be expected to be fired.
 
Having strolled in the shade of those very walnut trees on my way to many a lecture class over the four years I attended Grinnell, it gives me great pleasure to know that the legacy of those majestic trees has been conserved and transformed into heirloom pieces of beautiful furniture that Grinnell students can continue to use and admire into the future. 
 
Kevin Field is owner of Field Joinery & Design Studio of Westmont, IL. Learn more at customwoodwerker.com.
 
Slide Captions
Slide 1: Shorter walnut bench on display in campus gallery during Grinnell College’s 2019 Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Slide 2: Wind motif flows into the natural grain pattern in back-rest panels.

Slide 3: One of the Grinnell College walnut logs is milled into lumber.

Slide 4: Walnut trees 1, 3, & 4 in the plan view were the source of the lumber used for the benches.

Slide 5: Some of Grinnell College’s walnut trees prior to removal.

Slide 6: Lead bullets shown in the position they were found encased in the walnut lumber, including two wedged against each other. They were incorporated into bench back-rail – visible under clear epoxy.

Slide 7: Carving book-matched back-rest panels achieved using rotary tool with burrs and reciprocating chisel handset.
 
Editor’s Note: We’re always on the prowl for interesting tales of urban wood use. Learn how to get your business featured.
 


UWN Slates ‘Future Visioning’ Webinar Series

The Urban Wood Network (UWN) kicks off its 2020 webinar series on March 11 with “The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning.”  UWN invites municipalities, arborists, sawyers, woodworkers, advocates and all others interested in advancing the urban wood movement to participate in one or all of these 75-minute webinars.

Each of the webinars is scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. Pacific, 11 a.m. Mountain, 12 p.m. Central, and 1 p.m. Eastern.

Webinar #1: The Urban Wood Network: Future Visioning – March 11
The Urban Wood Network will present its vision to bring together urban wood industry members to inform, collaborate and connect to build community, business, and consumer confidence in the industry. 

  • Don Peterson, executive director of UWN, will share recently established local, regional and national partnerships, membership benefits, and upcoming educational opportunities for both members and non-members.
  •  Jennifer Alger will provide a brief update on the new partnership between the Urban Wood Network and Urban Salvaged and Reclaimed Woods.
  •  Paul Morrison of Wisconsin Urban Wood will share how the urban wood industry has evolved over the past 20 years; staring with the slow growth of scattered individuals to the current and rapidly growing trajectory that we are now witnessing. Morrison believes that these individual businesses must each define what makes them unique while also recognizing that the partnerships and potential of networking within an organization of like-minded businesses benefits each individual business and further insures our collective future.

Upcoming UWN Future Visioning Webinars
April 8: Urban Lumber Standards
May 13: Urban Lumber Business
June 10: What to Do with the Rest of the Tree(s)

Learn More | Register


Study compares EAB’s Impact: Vienna vs. Minneapolis

“Do differences in visual landscape preferences for EAB-impacted forest scenarios exist between forest visitors asked in EAB-impacted and EAB non-impacted cities?”

This is one of the essential survey questions posed to visitors of urban forests in Minneapolis, MN, and Vienna, Austria, where ash trees have been a significant part of the landscape. The big difference, however, is that Minneapolis has lost a large chunk of its ash population, while Vienna has not been impacted by EAB yet, but is expected to be threatened in the years to come.

The results of the survey are reported in a newly released study by Oxford Academic, “Differences in urban forest visitor preferences for emerald ash borer-impacted areas.” 

In the words of the The study’s authors: “As of 2019, there has been little research on the social impacts of tree health, although there seems to be societal concern about the impacts of tree pests like EAB. However, reported awareness about the presence of specific tree pests and forest management options is generally low (Marzano et al., 2017). Particularly in Europe, little is known about how EAB impacts might influence forest visitors’ site preferences, whether preferences differ among visitors, and whether visitor socio-demographic, recreational activities or their relationship with nature can explain this potential heterogeneity. As EAB infestation is already significant in many parts of both the United States and Russia, and imminent in Europe, knowledge about visitor preference heterogeneity is necessary for proactive and effective forest management. This need is particularly important for urban forest managers and planners as ash is a central component of European urban green infrastructure. If respondents’ preferences are homogeneous, it is easier to obtain agreement on forest management, but if there are segments with conflicting preferences, management becomes more challenging and requires additional efforts toward agreement and information about choices. Thus, the question arises as to how visitor preferences differ regarding changes in the forest landscape associated with EAB impacts and concomitant forest management, if and how visitor segments differ n their support for forest management actions, and what trade-offs among several factors (social, visual, managerial) exist.” 

A sampling of results:

  • The majority of respondents in Vienna had never heard about EAB (85.1%). About 13% of respondents had heard about EAB but had no knowledge about it while 2.4% said they had some knowledge of EAB and none of the respondents indicated they knew a lot about it.
  • Vienna respondents preferred a non-impacted mature ash forest, advanced stages of natural regeneration, dense trailside shrub vegetation and low trail user numbers. Relatedly, respondents disliked removal of most ash trees, viewscapes showing city buildings close to the trail, unleashed dogs and a visitor composition consisting of walkers only.
  • The higher relative importance of the EAB impacts and management attribute for Minneapolis respondents may be related to their higher awareness of the existing EAB risk for the ash trees. Seven years before this study, EAB was detected in the City of Minneapolis and in 2014, active EAB management was in full force with tree marking and removal.

Read the Study

 

 



NC Program Protects Most-Valued Ash Trees from EAB

The North Carolina Forest Service said its Ash Protection Program funded or partially funded the protection of more than 620 of the state’s most cherished ash trees in 15 North Carolina communities, municipalities and parks in 2018 and 2019.

The program was refunded for 2020, with applications being taken through Feb. 21.

The Ash Protection Program was created through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service. It provides financial assistance to urban forest managers, primarily NC municipalities, to protect ash trees using a pesticide treatment. The pesticide, which is injected directly into the tree trunk, reportedly protects the tree from emerald ash borer infestation for two to three years. Trees can receive a second injection to prolong protection.

Program funding prioritizes the preservation of trees with historical or recreational value, as well as those in high-visibility urban areas.

Learn more at the Ash Protection Program website.