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Treincarnation: destroyed trees not always destined to be firewood

When massive amounts of trees come down in a storm, there are more sustainable options besides beloved trees on our properties becoming tons of firewood, just ask Treincarnation.

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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.

Wicked Forest

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.

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

Business News

Will House Democrats pass the new Senate stimulus package?

(BUSINESS NEWS) A new stimulus package for the COVID-19 pandemic has come from the senate, the question now is will the House Democrats accept and pass it?

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Congress can’t seem to agree about COVID-19 relief. Yesterday, the Senate and the White House came to an agreement on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. The Democrats are now the hold-up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly stated that the House will be reviewing the bill, but there is no commitment as to whether the bill will pass or not. The Hill reported that some House Democrats are concerned that they have not provided any input.

What’s in the measure?

According to CBS News, the actual text of the measure hasn’t been released, but they did get information from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about some of the contents:

• Expanded unemployment benefits to boost the maximum benefit and to give laid-off workers full pay for four months
• Direct payments to individuals making less than $99,000
• $130 billion for hospitals
• $367 billion in loans for small business
• $150 billion for state and local governments
• $500 billion for large businesses
• Creates an oversight board to govern large loans
• Prohibitions to prevent President Trump and family from getting federal relief

Will the measure pass?

Pelosi has said that this measure is a big improvement over the Republican’s first proposal. It seems as if she is working hard to move the measure through the House, but given the current state of politics, it’s hard to believe that anything will be done without some debate. Many Democrats have pushed for a food stamp increase, which is not in the current measure. However, the Democrats did win on the oversight board that protects the employees of the companies who are getting loans. Money for states was another Democrat victory in the current measure.

If the bill can pass the House unanimously, lawmakers won’t have to vote on the floor. If the House can’t agree, the House will need to reconvene and amend the Senate measure or pass their own measure. Under the COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine issues, it might be difficult to get anything done quickly. The urgency is real, but so is the responsibility. The Democrats want the money to do what Congress intends, not for CEO compensation or stock buyouts.

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Business News

MLMs under investigation for claiming they have a COVID-19 miracle cure

(BUSINESS NEWS) Guys, there is currently no cure for COVID-19 and it’s definitely not being sold by your friend in an MLM or whatever their company calls themselves.

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It should go without saying that essential oils are NOT a cure for COVID-19, but unfortunately, the MLMs are at it again. Yes, that’s right, there are people trying to market their oils, pills…etc. as a way to stave off the pandemic that is currently upon us. So before we go any further, may I remind y’all that there is no miracle cure to treat or prevent the virus.

Do not use MLM products as a replacement for the actions laid out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), like social distancing and vigorous hand washing.

Don’t get me wrong, if you or your friends or relatives want to use MLM products on top of the advice given by doctors and scientists, go ahead. But advertising that these products can cure a disease that’s currently spreading across the world isn’t just irresponsible, it’s dangerous. Even if you don’t catch it, you’re still at risk of spreading the virus.

As of right now, the FTC is investigating seven companies over COVID-19 related claims, but you should be suspicious of anyone claiming they have something that will help. Do your homework. Sources like the CDC and WHO (World Health Organization) are great places to start if you’re unsure about information that you see on social media or hear from a friend. Disinformation is everywhere, so it’s vital to keep track of sources.

If you do stumble across a friend or family member trying to slip in MLM sales during this global crisis, be civil in your rebuttals. Many people join MLMs because they’ve been struggling to make money elsewhere. MLMs are notorious for targeting immigrants and stay-at-home moms. With COVID-19 bringing a slew of job loss, financial circumstances for many are more precarious than ever, which could very well put pressure on people in MLMs.

In short: MLM corporations that advertise a miracle cure? I didn’t think these companies could be more evil, but I was wrong. Your friend on Facebook touting their essential oil as a miracle cure? Definitely not great, but there might be more going on than meets the eye, so be honest with them, but also be kind.

It’s no magic cure, but a drop of kindness could go a long way right now.

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Business News

COVID-19: Should I even bother applying for jobs right now?

(BUSINESS NEWS) COVID-19 has sent shockwaves through the business world, and many are asking if they should even TRY to get a job right now. It’s… it’s complicated.

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In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are either working from home, or nervously in an office setting right now, or are already unemployed, and there is a collective anxiety that rolled in like a fog overnight. Many are wondering if they’ll have a job tomorrow, and worse, folks already unemployed are wondering if there is any hope in sight.

I won’t sugar coat this – it sucks.

This whole thing sucks. For some sectors, despite the government working toward relief efforts, this is devastating. Truly. For other sectors particularly those in tech or corporate life (which is where our focus is for this story), there is a recovery in the future.

It’s universally awful, but it’s not an impossible situation.

In fact, this could turn out to be a major advantage for you if approached properly.

Before I tell you the bad news, then the good news, and then offer advice, let me first assert that employment is a topic close to our hearts here at AG. Although you’re reading this on the pages of an entrepreneur news site, you may also know that for nearly a decade, we’ve operated the Austin Digital Jobs group on Facebook (and hosted quarterly recruiting mixers that average 450 attendees (which are obviously on pause right now)), but you might not know that we also launched the Remote Digital Jobs group on Facebook.

We’re in the trenches with job seekers, employers, career coaches and the like. Every day. Which means we’re having hundreds of conversations about how COVID-19 is impacting employers and job seekers.

So… let’s start with the bad news first.

It’s no secret that there is an air of uncertainty right now. We’re collectively holding our breath, prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. The universal virus we’re all infected with right now is anxiety – employer and employee alike.

Some employers are moving forward as normal because their industry is thriving in this time, others are hard hit and looking at their reserves and hitting pause on hiring.

Many companies have a hiring freeze in place right now, but they’re not public about that in any way, so as a job seeker, you’ll never know which are in this situation.

Others are following bad advice from venture capitalists and are considering blindly axing people. Some already have.

Layoffs are here. Not en masse yet, but if a company has no money, it can’t pay employees, and smaller companies are currently facing that reality.

But here is the good news. For YOU, anyways.

In this time where an entire workforce has been sent home to work, some folks are going to shine as they are reliable, communicative, and think creatively. Unfortunately, others are going to struggle and sink.

Sinkers open up critical spots on the team that need to be filled to keep operations moving. That could be a spot free up for you!

Further, employers are reconsidering their roster right now. They may be trimming some figurative fat.

For example, one small software development company in Austin told us they would make it through the storm if they made the hard decision to let go of two senior developers they had hired who had negotiated extremely high salaries. With those two salaries cut, two people have lost their jobs, but the company will now hire one senior developer and pay them an Austin salary, not a California salary they had originally paid to attract that tippity top talent.

That could be good news for you. And there are plenty of companies doing just this.

Additionally, companies are looking at their future hiring needs for “when this all ends,” and we’re being told that many companies are currently hiring for the summer, which sounds far away, but is about as long as the hiring process often takes anyhow.

While not a total win, we’re hearing news that implies companies don’t expect COVID-19 to wipe out their business, or hold them back indefinitely.

So should you even bother applying for jobs right now?

The answer is: Yes, absolutely, but you’re going to have to change your approach.

Job interviews are going virtual, so get ready. You’re going to have to test out all of your video platforms with Zoom being the most common, followed by Skype – don’t wait until you’ve landed an interview to test your tech. You’ll have to test your lighting and sound (and probably wear in-ear headphones with a standard mic). Do that today if you can, even if it’s just a friend you’re video chatting with as a test. Here are some quick tips.

You’re going to be tempted to apply to as many jobs as possible and play the numbers game.

That feels good because you’re seeking to control something in this time of uncertainty, but you’re working against yourself and missing opportunities. Plus, it’s lazy. Sorry, it’s true.

Take the time to groom your resume and cover letter. Send it to everyone you know and ask if they’ll pretend to be an employer and opine when they have time, that you’re looking for criticism, not praise.

If you have savings and can afford a professional resume writing service to help you, make that investment right now. If you have comfortable savings, hire a reputable career coach to speed up the process and work with you on your strengths and weaknesses.

Every application you submit should be refined for that specific employer. Before applying, read the job posting three times in a row. Then, read the company’s Career page, their About page, and see what they tweet. This will all tell you what’s important to them (plus, the keywords you’ll need to use to get past the applicant tracking system robots and into the hands of a humans are IN THE JOB LISTING, so use them). This will help you to tell your story in a way that answers their needs.

Take the time to get to know each company before introducing yourself, it’ll make an immediate difference. This is why you can’t really apply to 100 places in one day, it’s unrealistic and puts you at a disadvantage.

Aside from transitioning to video interviews and customizing every application for quality, these times call for some things I’m scared to ask you for, but this pandemic demands grit and patience.

And that’s so much easier said than done.

You’ll have to keep pressing forward, even when you don’t feel like it, and even when it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. And you’ll have to really wrap your mind around the fact that employers aren’t moving as quickly as they were just a month ago. Response times are slower, so landing an interview takes more time, and post-interview decisions will take even longer.

And that doesn’t sound appealing when you’re worried about paying rent in a few days. It’s not appealing, and we are by no means minimizing that fact or your feelings about it. These are the cold realities of these COVID-19 times.

In these desperate times, your only choice is to take a deep breath and approach job hunting the right way, knowing that companies are shuffling the deck right now. It won’t be in fast motion, but there’s a chair for you about to open up, and you should be pushing your hardest to be the one to fill it.

From the depths of our hearts – know that we’re pulling for you.

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