Not in Kansas Anymore
Back in August, it was as normal as any other August in Arlington, until the amazing gusts of the Derecho Storm whipped their way through the cherry-tree lined avenues. We had a native cherry tree in our back yard that was teetering on the edge of the fence line, and I watched it out the window that was getting sucked in and out, as the locomotive sound of the winds swooshed and churned through the neighborhood. Please don’t come through the window, I thought. Don’t land on a neighbor. Wicked Witch of the West music played in my mind…
It uprooted, but thankfully didn’t fly across the neighborhood, like so many other trees and their weak limbs did. Ultimately, we ended up paying a pretty penny to have the gnarly, wild cherry tree, which was sick, cut out and stump ground out to prevent termites, but jeez! Who knew the business of tree-work was the song and dance that it was?! I started to wonder what else could be done with so many of these trees that had also come down in the wake of the impending storms of the year.
You wouldn’t believe how many solicitors come to our new house about tree work. They show up like right before meals- like they have this sixth sense for people’s rears about to hit seats for dinner. Imagine a lovely steaming dinner that has just been plated. The family is about to be gathered together to sit and relax together for the first time all day… DOOR BELL. DOG BARK. TREE PERSON TRUCK. No thanks. Thank goodness it wasn’t a woman with a picnic basket on a bicycle.
Century old oaks, maples, poplars and cedars plummeted to their demise, uprooted by those gale-force winds, taking out power lines, cars and many homes in their timber paths. What now? What do you do with these once magnificent trees that are no longer going to be providing their shade and privacy? Glorified fire wood? No, there is another answer.
Yes, there is some clean up involved, but the trees didn’t just have to be hacked to pieces. In many instances, these trees played a vital roll in a life story; a family history or heritage. Sigh- nostalgia is about to happen: A child was reared under those branches, lovers carved their initials and impending promise to each other under a knot, a stubborn kitty climbed to the tippy-top and stayed there mewing for hours. Many of these trees tell our story, and when they topple down, they don’t have to go away, taking that story with them.
Revealing the True Story
Local artist, Marcus Sims of Treincarnation has taken his keen sense of sustainability, along with integrity for the product itself, the wood, and creates amazing, useful and soulful pieces of art and furniture from fallen trees.
Of course, over the last few months, with the sheer amount of tree damage the Washington, DC area has been the brunt of, he has seen an increase in business; however, Sims has been creating with “nature in mind” for over twenty years. When I asked him if he had noticed an increase in people seeking him out in the last few years, he said “yes, people want to have a piece of their beloved tree…to have it milled into lumber and made into something,” something tangible, and something that they can take with them if they happen to move.
His clients want anything from huge logs of oak honed into bookcases and trellises; his own headboard is a Houzz.com-worthy massive slab of maple. Sims’ designs work in conjunction with the client and the wood itself to “reveal and set off the beauty of the wood.” It makes me think that he is allowing the wood to tell that story of each moment that it towered over before it came down.
The Man Behind the Curtain
Maybe he is sort of like the Great and Powerful Oz. Sims doesn’t really know what he is going to get to make magic out of until he gets his whole tree to play with! For instance, he was commissioned to make square benches for the Janney school out of the Janney Oak when they were going to do their major expansion in DC.
“Only when the logs were brought to me, and I could see the wind-shake on the inside (the separation on the tube of the tree) could I see that I would have to do something different. My colleague, Cecil Smith, suggested that we separate the inner column from the outer wood, and use the ‘halftubes’ to create the benches.” These pieces of Janney history now sit on the Janney School’s elementary playground and continue to be a part of the school’s rich history, but in a much more elegant way than being hacked into firewood.
Yes, trees can be milled to lumber for floors and siding and actual lumber for construction, but there are some trees that people may want to make into something a bit more special like their “beloved [enter tree name here].” As we are catching full stride into the new year, we can only hope that no more insane storms bring their wrath; but if there is anything we have learned, it is that there are options to do things more sustainably and people like our artist friends who think with nature in mind.
This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution
(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.
The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.
Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.
There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.
Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.
Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.
Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.
“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”
For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.
Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees
(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?
The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.
As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.
And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.
Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.
How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.
“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”
Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.
Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.
Unify your remote team with these important conversations
(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.
Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.
According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.
Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.
Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.
With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.
The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.
Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.
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