GWTP Celebrates 25 Years Training Low-Income Chicagoans for Woodworking Careers

Since being established 25 years ago, the Greater West Town Training Partnership (GWTP) has trained and placed some 900 low-income adults with jobs in Chicago-area woodworking firms.

Doug Rappe, GWTP program coordinator and a member of the Illinois Urban Wood Utilization Team, has been involved with GWTP since its inception in 1993. The Woodworking Machinery Industry Association honored Rappe for his long-standing commitment to workforce development with its prestigious Educator of the Year Award in 2014.

GWTP is part of the Greater West Town Community Development Project, a not-for-profit entity that gets its funding from a variety of public agencies and charitable foundations. In addition to woodworking, GWTP offers a hands-on shipping and receiving training program. The two training programs each occupy space in a 55,000-square-foot facility that formerly housed an envelope manufacturer located at 500 N. Sacramento Blvd.

Read more about this award-winning program.

Learn more about the Greater West Town Partnership Project.

International Woodworking Fair Supports Urban Wood Conference

IWF2014 LogoThe International Woodworking Fair (IWF), North America’s largest woodworking event, is lending its support to the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference, Friday, March 18 at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, IL.

IWF has signed on as a partner sponsor of the unique event being organized by the Illinois Wood Utilization Team.

The Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference will bring together public and private land managers, arborists, architects and designers, sawyers, woodworkers and other entrepreneurs to share and learn next-step actions to participate in a market-driven source local, buy local urban wood economy. The unique conference will focus on industry best practices for everything from urban tree removal and milling through wood manufacturing and marketing the distinct local appeal of urban wood products.

“The utilization of urban wood for wood manufacturing is an important new market for the industry,” said Tom Onsrud, IWF 2016 Chairman and President of C.R. Onsrud of Troutman, NC. “We support efforts to salvage the highest valued use from urban trees.”

“We thank the organizers of IWF for their cooperation with our program,” said Rich Christianson, conference director for the Illinois Wood Utilization Team. “They understand that there is an opportunity for many public and private community trees that are felled because of insect infestation, storm damage or other reasons to be converted into lumber and ultimately used for making custom furniture, cabinets and other wood products.

“The urban wood movement is not just a Midwest phenomenon,” Christianson added. “The emerald ash borer has killed more than 250 million ash trees in more than 20 states and several Canadian provinces. Its deadly rampage has given cause for federal, state, county and local governments to think beyond simply chipping and mulching ash and other landscape trees in the urban forest. This growing awareness has led to the creation and rapid growth of a cottage industry that encompasses tree care companies, sawyers, woodworkers and even hardwood retailers across the country.”

The Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference will include a dozen informative presentations, a live portable sawmilling demonstration, tabletop displays and a networking reception. In addition, furniture and other functional and artistic objects crafted by woodworking professionals and students will be displayed in the Urban Wood Products Showcase.

The full-day program will be preceded by a Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop presented by Prof. Dan Cassens of Purdue University Thursday, March 17 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, IL.

Learn More and Register
To learn more about attending the conference or sponsorship and display opportunities, visit illinoisurbanwood.org.

Questions about the conference should be directed to Rich Christianson, conference director, at 773-822-6750 or richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com.

About the International Woodworking Fair
The International Woodworking Fair, owned by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America, is North America’s largest woodworking event. IWF 2016 is scheduled for August 24-27, 2016 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. It is the “must attend” show for supplies, manufacturing and processing of materials for the furniture, cabinetry, flooring, door and window, plastics, solid surfacing and machine tooling industries. IWF 2014 attracted more than 23,000 woodworking professionals and industry suppliers from the U.S., Canada and beyond. Learn more at iwfatlanta.com.

About the Illinois Wood Utilization Team Founded in 2009, the Illinois Wood Utilization Team is a network of land managers, professionals in the wood products industry, natural resource and green building experts and artisans dedicated to promoting and developing a sustainable market place for achieving the best possible use of trees felled in the urban forest. The Illinois WUT is part of a four-state grant project funded through the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area. Other grant partners include the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council and Recycle Ann Arbor; the Missouri Department of Conservation; and the Sustainable Resources Institute Inc. and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.