Alabama Sawyer’s Not So Secret Diary
Please note that “Famous in AL” is a series of blog posts on famous historical Alabama sites for the purpose of celebrating the culture and history found in our own state.
Let’s go back to 2008. Picture fifth grade me lying in bed with the chicken pox, instead of sitting on a school bus headed to Sloss Furnace for a field trip. So after courageously lying in bed for a week, I recovered and reluctantly went back to school. I distinctly remember the small iron square my teacher handed me, evidently my classmates teamed up to make a piece with my initials. Confused? Part of the guided tour at Sloss involves students making their own cast iron art.
Now 23 year old me has an excuse to actually go on a self guided tour through Sloss, which means no cast iron art unfortunately. What’s the excuse? Alabama Sawyer table bases are poured at Sloss Furnace. That’s the perfect excuse! But before that, here is a short blurb on the history of Sloss Furnaces:
"Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham, helping to promote railroad development in Jones Valley, Alabama and participating in the Pratt Coke and Coal Company, one of the new city's first manufacturers. In 1881 he formed his own company, the Sloss Furnace Company, and began construction of Birmingham's first blast furnace on 50 acres (202,000 m²) of land donated by the Elyton Land Company for industrial development. The engineer in charge of construction was Harry Hargreaves, a former student of English inventor Thomas Whitwell. The two Whitwell-type furnaces were 60 feet (18 m) tall and 18 feet (5.4 m) in diameter. The first blast was initiated in April 1882. The facility produced 24,000 tons of high quality iron during its first year of operation. Sloss iron won a bronze medal at the Southern Exposition held in 1883 at Loiusville, Kentucky.
In 1886 Sloss retired and sold the company to a group of investors who reorganized it in 1899 as the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company. The group regularly utilized forced mainly African-American convict-laborers that were purchased in collusion with local sheriffs in a system called peonage. Sheriffs would arrest mainly African-American men under often bogus charges of “vagrancy” and the Sloss company would purchase these men and work them as slaves. This allowed slavery to continue after the Civil War and amassed great wealth for Sloss.
New blowers were installed in 1902, new boilers in 1906 and 1914 and the furnaces completely rebuilt with modern equipment between 1927 and 1929. In 1909 James Pickering Dovel had become the superintendent of construction. For the next 21 years, Sloss was Dovel's workshop for invention. He developed gas cleaning equipment, modified the design of the furnaces, and improved the linings of the furnaces. In all, some 17 patents are credited to Dovel. Sloss's No. 2 Furnace, rebuilt in 1927, included many of these inventions, earning Dovel and Sloss a national reputation for innovation. Through this aggressive campaign of modernization and expansion, including furnace and mining and quarrying operations all around Jefferson County, Sloss-Sheffield became the second largest seller of pig-iron in the district and among the largest in the world. During this period the company built 48 small cottages for black workers near the downtown furnace — a community that became known as "Sloss Quarters" or just "the quarters".
In 1952, the Sloss Furnaces were acquired by the U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, and sold nearly two decades later in 1969 to the Jim Walter Corp. The Birmingham area had been suffering from a serious air pollution problem during the 1950s and 1960s due to the iron and steel industry there, and Federal legislation such as the U.S. Clean Air Act encouraged the closure of older and out-of-date smelting works. Also, by the early 1960s, higher-yielding brown ores from other regions were feeding the blast furnaces.
The Jim Walter company closed the furnaces two years later, and then donated the property to the Alabama State Fair Authority for possible development as a museum of industry. The authority determined that redevelopment was not feasible and made plans to demolish the furnaces. Local preservationists formed the Sloss Furnace Association to lobby for preservation of this site, which is of central importance to the history of Birmingham. In 1976, the site was documented for the Historic American Engineering Record and its historic significance was detailed in a study commissioned by the city. Birmingham voters approved a $3.3 million bond issue in 1977 to preserve the site. This money went towards stabilization of the main structures and the construction of a visitors' center and the establishment of a metal arts program. The Sloss Furnaces site became a National Historic Landmark in 1981, and opened to the public as the nation's first and only 20th century blast furnace site preserved as a museum on Labor Day weekend, 1983.
In February 2009 Sloss became the new home of the SLSF 4018 steam locomotive, which was relocated from Birmingham's Fair Park." (Source: Sloss Furnaces Wikipedia)
Self Guided Tour
Now that you know all of that history, I bet you're interested in actually going there. So without further ado, here are some of the pictures I took during my self guided tour at Sloss. Construction prevented me from taking the normal tour path, so I got to see some pretty interesting stuff.
Be sure to follow @sloss_furnaces and @slossmetalarts on Instagram!
What is carbon sequestration?
"the long-term storage of carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. Carbon sequestration occurs both naturally and as a result of anthropogenic activities and typically refers to the storage of carbon that has the immediate potential to become carbon dioxide gas. In response to growing concerns about climate change resulting from increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, considerable interest has been drawn to the possibility of increasing the rate of carbon sequestration through changes in land use and forestry and also through geoengineering techniques such as carbon capture and storage." (Source: Carbon Sequestration | Encyclopedia Britannica)
Solid wood furniture, and trees in general tend to store carbon very well in. In fact, "An important function of trees and forests both within and outside of urban areas is carbon sequestration. Nowak and Crane (2002) have estimated that urban trees in the U.S. hold about 774 million tons of carbon ... the importance of tree biomass carbon in urban areas is expected to increase over the coming decades, because the urbanized area is expected to increase notably in the U.S. (Nowak and Walton 2005)." (Source: Carbon Sequestration In Solid Wood Products From Urban Forests | Dovetail Partners Inc.)
As you may very well know, Alabama Sawyer gets a large percent of wood from the urban forests of Alabama. The exciting part of this is that use of urban wood helps diminish the harmful effect of the buildup of greenhouse gases through long term carbon sequestration.
But why is using urban wood so important in all of this? Well, when urban trees come down, they typically become a waste removal problem. In the forest, a tree coming down isn't much a problem since released carbon just goes back into the carbon cycle. In an urban setting, however, released carbon from a downed tree doesn't really go back into the carbon cycle in the same way. This is especially true if the tree goes to rot in a landfill. Thus, making solid wood furniture from urban wood is a great way to ensure that the wood continues to store that carbon in the long term.
Selin, Noelle Eckley. “Carbon Sequestration.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/technology/carbon-sequestration.
Bratkovich, Steve, and Sam Sherrill. “Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests.” Dovetail Report: Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests, Dovetail Partners Inc., 19 July 2011, www.dovetailinc.org/reports/Carbon+Sequestration+in+Wood+Products%2C+Urban+Forests_n258?prefix=%2Freports.
“The Carbon Cycle.” The Carbon Cycle | UCAR Center for Science Education, 2007, scied.ucar.edu/carbon-cycle.
Hardin, LeJean, and Jaime Payne. “Schematic Showing Both Terrestrial and Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from a Biomass or Fossil Fuel Power Station.” Wikipedia Commons, 10 July 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_sequestration-2009-10-07.svg.
There are standard table top heights, then there are custom table heights. The height of a custom table will vary depending on table function, user height, chair height, and several other factors. This blog post aims to explore how you might pick a custom table height - and then give a list of standard table heights.
How Do I Measure Table Height?
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's discuss how to measure table height in the first place. According to a Parotas blog post, "Standard table height measurements are taken from the floor to the top of the table or counter. This means you need to consider a lower chair height if you have a thick table top or overhanging counter." (Source: Parotas, "A Guide To Standard Table & Chair Heights")
Speaking of chairs, we'd advise a table height that allows for adequate leg room and space to slide the chair underneath the table. Generally, chair heights range from 17-19 inches. We recommend at least 10 inches between chair seat and table top. These discussions should beg the question, 'how do I measure the height of a chair?'
According to the Parotas blog post, "Standard chair heights are measured from the chair legs to the top of the seat surface. You do not include the height of the chair back or armrests in your measurements, unless you plan to slide chairs fully under the table or counter. If you are choosing chairs with armrests, allow around 7 inches (18cm) between the armrest and the underside of your table" (Source: Parotas, "A Guide To Standard Table & Chair Heights")
Elbow space is another important consideration that's very similar to the need for adequate leg room. No one likes using a table that's too tall to rest your elbows on. On the other hand, no one likes jamming their legs under a table because it's way too small.
This is a pretty big consideration honestly. How tall or short are the users? If the users are really tall, consider a taller than average table top. The same goes for shorter users, who may require a shorter than average table height. These questions should definitely factor into the process of picking a table height.
Basically, planning is your best friend when it comes to choosing a custom table height.
Standard Table Top Heights
That said, here are the standard heights of dining tables, counters, coffee tables, and bar tables. Big thanks to Leigh for making the graphics! (Please note: each of the pieces you see below is an Alabama Sawyer table. Find one on our website.)
Remodelista recently published a blog titled, "Remodeling 101: All About Butcher Block Countertops."
If you're out of the know, butcher blocks are made from straight pieces of wood glued together. They tend to be much sturdier than regular cutting boards or counter tops of other materials/ makes. Read more about butcher blocks on Remodelista's blog post! Image courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons.
Hall, Janet. “Remodeling 101: All About Butcher Block Countertops.” Remodelista, Remodelista, 15 Mar. 2019, www.remodelista.com/posts/remodeling-101-butcher-block-kitchen-countertops/?utm_source=Weekly%2BKitchen%2B&%2BBath%2BPosts%2Bfrom%2BRemodelista%2B-%2B03%2F18%2F2019&utm_campaign=3b359d750e&utm_medium=email.
Crider, Anthony. “Butcher's Block.” Wikipedia Commons, 23 Aug. 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Butcher%27s_block.jpg.
Why is it so difficult to find places in Alabama that will recycle glass? I’m definitely not the first person to ask. On the r/Birmingham subreddit, one user asks, “Every recycling plant in Birmingham that I've heard of doesn't seem to accept glass for some reason. I think it's simply because they don't have enough room for it?” A few comments pointed out the high expense associated with glass recycling, all for a non existent market. Similarly, The Alabama Environmental Council writes, “Glass is very difficult to recycle in Alabama due to a lack of end-users and processors.“
That raises the question, where can I recycle glass in Alabama? Thankfully, The Alabama Environmental Council has the answers you need. Well, maybe not all the answers. None of this really addresses why Alabama lacks a good glass recycling program, and why some cities like Santa Monica have excellent glass recycling programs. Speaking of Santa Monica’s glass recycling program, it’s awesome. Seriously. Read more about SM’s recycling collection program, and consider how you could start your own glass recycling business.
As you may or may not know, today (April 22nd) is Earth Day! If you've been living under a rock, Earth Day is easily the most well known environmental holiday in the world. The leaders of Earth Day aim to resolve problems related to climate change, end plastic pollution, and protect endangered species (Source: Earth Day Website)
Earth Day Flags
Earth Day was created in 1970 by John McConnell, who also made some of the more famous flag designs for the holiday. The image on the top was the first proposed Earth Day flag design, while the image on the bottom is the latest proposed flag design.
first Earth Day flag
most recent Earth Day flag
History of Earth Day
During the 70's, very few corporations or individuals cared about their carbon output. Then, in 1962 the book Silent Spring was published. Thankfully, that was the beginning of more environmental awareness and concern. For the most part, Earth Day helped achieve bipartisan consensus in a way few issues had. But today, there is a strong sense of urgency when it comes to damage done by climate change. The deadline - 2035 - is fast approaching. What will you do to help?
SOURCES & FURTHER READING
Due to US copyright laws, NASA photographs actually belong in the public domain. Who knew? I figured I’d take advantage of that to discuss some of the most amazing photos NASA has ever taken of our planet. A quick note about the series of bolded numbers and letters following the title of each photo in this post: that is the official NASA designation for that image.
1. The Blue Marble (AS17-148-22727)
This is easily the most famous photo NASA has ever taken, and it’s probably the most widely reproduced and distributed. It was taken December 7, 1972 by someone on the Apollo 17 flight, although evidence suggests that Jack Schmitt was the photographer. Interestingly enough, it was an unscheduled & unplanned photo, which makes the image something of a ‘stolen moment’. If you think The Blue Marble is beautiful, you might be interested in the subsequent Blue Marble images. (Source: Wikipedia, "The Blue Marble)
2. Earthrise (AS08-14-2383)
This spectacular image has been described as, "the most influential environmental photograph ever taken." It was taken December 24, 1968 by William Anders on the Apollo 8 mission. Like The Blue Marble, Earthrise was actually unplanned according to a transcript from the conversation that occurred when the photo was taken:
"Anders: Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! There's the Earth coming up. Wow, that's pretty.
Borman: Hey, don't take that, it's not scheduled. (joking)
Anders: (laughs) You got a color film, Jim? Hand me that roll of color quick, would you...
Lovell: Oh man, that's great!" (Source: Wikipedia, "Earthrise")
3. Pale Blue Dot
What makes Pale Blue Dot special is the almost barely perceivable Earth sitting in the middle of a sun beam. Earth is so small that it takes up less than a pixel in the entire image. Talk about putting things in perspective. It was taken February 14, 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe at the request of astronomer Carl Sagan. (Source: Wikipedia, "Pale Blue Dot")
Usually the big misconception about going eco friendly is it requires gratuitous time and money to accomplish. Let’s put that misconception to rest, and talk about all of the easy ways to make your existence on this planet more cost effective and eco friendly.
Carpool: This is a good way to cut down on gas expenses and reduce your carbon footprint. Better yet, start biking everywhere. It’s obviously not an optimal solution for everyone - some places just don’t have the infrastructure to implement or maintain safe + usable bike paths.
No Disposable Kitchenware: Consider purchasing cloth napkins, reusable dishes + silverware, metal straws, ect… All of the disposable products that you have to keep buying week after week add up to a lot AND will eventually go to a landfill.
Cook For You: No dining out or buying those premade meals. Making the food yourself is a great way to save money without supporting restaurants whose practices are less than ideal for the environment. And what better way to cook for you than by maintaining your own garden? I understand that not everyone has the time to care for a garden, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even growing your own basil can cut down on shopping expenses.
Compost: Why not? Especially if you’re caring for a garden. Composting is a great way to reduce your production of food waste while simultaneously reducing your need to purchase fertilizer. While you’re at it, take a look at our beautiful Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin.
Go Vegetarian: Going vegetarian pairs nicely with the gardening and composting tips mentioned above. You probably already know this, but the meat industry produces huge amounts of pollution. Moreover, by cutting meat out of your diet, you can greatly reduce the amount of money spent on food.
Sources & Further Reading
My boss recently visited the The Red Cat Coffee House, and was so impressed by their clever use of uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers, she requested I write a blog post pertaining to different eco-friendly hints for coffee shops. Here are some of the tips I came across:
Uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers: Well, what were you expecting? Of course I'm going to include the example that prompted this blog post to be written. And c'mon. If you haven't been to The Red Cat, go ahead. Treat yourself. Another option if you don't want to use uncooked spaghetti is reusable metal spoons.
Go Green: This might seem obvious, but you can boost sales by "going green" since there is a large consumer base that loves that type of thing. Ensure your coffee is organic, fair trade, and shade grown. What does shade grown have to do with it? Shade grown coffee just means that the coffee was grown in the shade of nearby plants and trees. This method of raising coffee promotes a healthy ecosystem.
Offer discounts: Give customers that bring in their own mugs a discount so you don't use as many disposable cups that will eventually be sent to a landfill. Or don't use disposable cups at all, just have reusable cups and mugs.
There are plenty of other eco- friendly tips and tricks you can use to make your coffee shop sustainable. Read about them here.
I am heading through the Smokey Mountains from Asheville, NC with my daughter, Velma, who is in the back seat. Pink’s cover of “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman pipes through the speakers, interspersed with Siri chiming out directions. “Continue on I-40 West towards Canton.”
We gain elevation. Static takes over the airwaves, so I turn off the music. The expertise of a previous chapter of my life, five years of driving mountain roads in Colorado, kicks in. The continuous line of freight trucks is prohibited from using the left lane, so it leaves me a private highway, but there is no shoulder. Each completed rolling turn reveals another.
I recall the past few days of our Mother Daughter Spring Break. We toured the opulence of the Biltmore Estate, a 250-room home built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. The diverse craft employed to build the 52 fireplaces alone are impressive. The Downton Abbey servant quarters deserve an Instagram takeover of @thingsorganizedneatly. The gardens are firmly in the realm of @accidentallywesanderson. We ate well and enjoyed our hotel stay, complete with in-lobby dog adoptions and West Coast Swing lessons.
Highlights in Asheville included visiting Lexington Glassworks right off the main drag. The space could be our template for an artisan manufacturing space and gallery in Birmingham, complete with craft demonstrations. I met Connie from East Fork Pottery, the up and coming Heath of the East. The brief visit gave me a chance to connect for a moment with another female business owner. She also works with her husband. She is also an Angeleno living in the South. The business is growing, producing high quality craft in the US. Their new 70,000 SF space and they are already too small.
At the exact same time, in the very same region, Cliff and our son, Scout, are embarking on a four day trek on a section of the Appalachian Trail. Every year, 4500 “through hikers” leave their conventional lives behind and spend the better half of a year hiking 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. I fantasize what it would be like to check out for six months and only think about one foot in front of the other and preparing my next meal. Going to bed at sunset.
As I drive, my mind ruminates between two choices. Lean in. Ask for what we need to grow Alabama Sawyer. Or Pack up and Check out.
The road straightens out. Farms appear with tall red barns and grass fed live stock from Central Casting. We pass Bush’s Beans plant on the right. Who knew? We enter Pigeon Forge and meet up with our friends at Dolly Parton’s Dream More resort and ride the tram to the park. Yes, it’s called the “Dream More.”
Perhaps you have heard the metaphor that starting a business is like building a plane, while it is taking off. Our first ride is Wild Eagle, a “wing coaster”. Riders sit on either side of the track with nothing above or below, while it climbs, inverts and swoops.
We loaded in. I tested Velma’s and my protection at least three times. Then, I prepared for the climb, kept my eyes open and got ready to soar like an eagle.
“They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy
They can say, they can say I've lost my mind
I don't care, I don't care, so call me crazy
We can live in a world that we design”
April is 'Keep America Beautiful' month! One excellent way to celebrate would be to participate in the trash tag challenge (which seems to be declining in popularity and relevance unfortunately.) What's the trash tag challenge you ask? On Reddit and Twitter, users have been taking 'before' pictures of areas filled with litter; and 'after' pictures of all the litter collected into trash bags. I love the trash tag challenge because it's a viral trend that benefits the environment.
Another way to participate would be to get your workplace involved in 'Recycling at Work'. This voluntary national effort is dedicated to increasing recycling in the workplace. That's a pretty noble cause, isn't it?
Of course the trash tag challenge and the 'Recycling at Work' effort aren't the only ways to participate in 'Keep America Beautiful' month. Planting and maintaining a garden is another great way to celebrate.
A woman enjoying gardening outdoors - Free Stock Photo
Since we're on the topic of gardening, composting for your garden is incredibly resourceful and will greatly help in your gardening adventures. If you need tips getting started, read our blog post on building a pallet backyard compost bin. What's more, this FineGardening article will give you all the information you need to start composting. Keep in mind that you'll need to store the compost somewhere before moving it to your backyard pile, so feel free to check out our beautiful Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin. These expertly crafted bins come in magnolia, walnut, and sapwood made using timber sourced almost entirely from the urban forests of Alabama.
Sources & Further Reading
Olive, Jim. “STUDENTS PICK UP TRASH ALONG ROADSIDE.” Wikipedia Commons, Source U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 9 Oct. 2011, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:STUDENTS_PICK_UP_TRASH_ALONG_ROADSIDE_-_NARA_-_543927.jpg.
Asarch, Steven. “Viral #TrashTag Movement Wants to Make the World a Cleaner Place.” Newsweek, 11 Mar. 2019, www.newsweek.com/trashtag-trash-tag-challenge-twitter-reddit-1359221.
“Keep America Beautiful.” Keep America Beautiful, 6 Feb. 2019, www.kab.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwm-fkBRBBEiwA966fZBtWrzdMQqR5QoLIeuoiKKZsJAIaZEVuJxcy9PgYPZgVFWqIDLBUshoCiLYQAvD_BwE.
“Get Started in Composting.” FineGardening, 25 Apr. 2014, www.finegardening.com/article/get-started-in-composting.
“Take the Pledge Andearn Recognition For.” RecyclingWork RSS, recyclingatwork.org/.
“A Woman Enjoying Gardening Outdoors.” Freestockphotos.biz, www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16337.
The dark brown wood is strong with a handsome grain and polishes easily. Rich, flavorful nuts taste delicious fresh and retain their flavor and texture during cooking. They belong to the same family as hickories and pecans.
Walnut trees are monoecious, meaning they can self-pollinate. However, walnut groves are best for nut production. It's no wonder that walnut is one of our most in demand species of wood, just look at some of the walnut products we offer:
Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, the magnolia tree belongs to the Magnoliaceae family. This type of tree isn't just old, it's ancient. It appeared before bees did and many Magnolia trees are known to survive for 100+ years.
Mississippi and Louisiana share the Magnolia as the official state flower. Speaking of which, Magnolia flowers can be pink, green, white, purple, or yellow. Here are a couple Magnolia products we offer:
Also known by its Latin name Quercus alba, some white oak trees have lived up to 450 years. Despite the name 'white oak', these trees usually don't have white bark since they are instead named for the color of the finished wood. White oaks have certain characteristics that make it resistant to water and rot. These characteristics make it ideal to be used to make wine and whiskey barrels that resist leakage.
It is used in construction, shipbuilding, architecture, and more. White Oak has also been used extensively to build Japanese martial arts weaponry due to its density and strength. It's no wonder that White Oak is such a popular species of wood. Here are some of our White Oak products:
The name “Pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack. It is a species of Hickory, native to Mexico and the Southern United States. Pecans are not actually considered a nut, but instead are a fruit surrounded by a husk with a stone pit in the center, which is the part you eat. The state tree of Texas, it can live to be anywhere between 300 - 1000 years old. See some of our Pecan pieces below:
Also known as Spanish Oak, its name comes from the red hairs on its twigs. Southern Red Oak is a durable shade tree which reaches 60 to 80 feet high. See some of our gorgeous Red Oak products below:
Most people reading this will know about and love Earth Day, so you’re probably aware that it’s celebrated around the globe every April 22nd. What you might not know is that peace activist John McConnell created Earth Day and its unofficial flag (see the featured image above.)
But Earth Day isn’t the only environmentally oriented holiday, meaning April 22nd isn’t the only time to celebrate our planet. In fact, ‘celebrate’ might not even be the best word here since you can celebrate the Earth all you want, but at the end of the day the Earth should benefit from those celebrations. Instead, I think that ‘honor’ is better suited for our purposes. Read on to learn about 5 non Earth Day environmental holidays to honor our planet:
Fossil Fools Day: This holiday gets extra points for cleverly referencing April Fools Day by taking place on April 1st while the name is a play on the words ‘fossil fuels’ + ‘April Fools Day’.
Clever name aside, Fossil Fools Day (FFD) began in 2004 across the US and Canada as an environmental demonstration day. Now FFD is celebrated in many different cities all over the world with events intended to promote education regarding alternative energy sources, environmental justice, effective legislation, and corporate responsibility to the environment (Source: Wikipedia).
Earth Overshoot Day: You better get your passport ready, ‘cause you’re about to go on a guilt trip with this one. Nah, just kidding. Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) will, however, stir your inner eco-activist when you learn what it’s about. The EOD’s website put it best, “Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. In 2018, it fell on August 1. We are using 1.7 Earths. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb” (Source: Overshootday.org).
That’s upsetting. So what does Earth Overshoot Day do to ameliorate that? More importantly, how can I help? The website then goes on to explain (with some excellent resources), that it is possible to improve sustainability in the areas of, “food, cities, population, and energy to #MoveTheDate” (Source: Overshootday.org). There it is, the ultimate goal of EOD is to #MoveTheDate, and the website gives a number of ways to achieve that.
International Day For Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict: In 2001, the UN declared that November 6th would be the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which I'm going to be referring to using the acronym IDPEEWAC.
The UN created IDPEEWAC to acknowledge the great damage that tends to come to the environment during wartime, and seeks to minimize it by implementing its own list of Sustainable Development Goals, which you can read more about by following the link to the UN's web page about the holiday (Source: UN.org).
National Recycling Day: You can probably guess just from its name what this holiday revolves around. National Recycling Day (NRD) falls on November 15th, and aims to persuade people into buying recycled goods and encourages people to recycle as much as possible.
However, it's not just about buying recycled products or using your recycling bin (although both of those things are important.) If you want to really dig your heels into it, then consider participating at a local event aimed at promoting the NRD and its goals (Source: NationalToday.com)
National Endangered Species Day: The holiday is held on the third day in May every year. I know what you're thinking, "Well, I'm not actively setting polar bears on fire OR stomping bees. How could I even help?" One way would be to donate money or participate in events for the National Wildlife Federation.
You also have the option to discuss the National Endangered Species day on social media with the '#ESDay', or even sign a petition. Oh, and if you come across an endangered specie? Try not to wreck its habitat (Source: NWF.org).
African Wild Dog (Source: Pixabay.com).
SOURCES:UN.org: "International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of
As an Alabama business, we love promoting and discussing some of the best Alabama has to offer. In fact, the Old 280 Boogie is one of those businesses that we love promoting.
What is The Boogie?
The Old 280 Boogie is a concert and multicultural event that takes place annually along, you guessed it, highway 280. According to the Old 280 Boogie event website,
“The annual Spring ‘Old 280’ Boogie started 18 years ago on the one year anniversary of state Highway 280 opening-up and routing around our little town. This one-day spring gathering is set on the creative grounds of Standard Deluxe Inc. renowned for its cool and hospitable Southern ambiance.”
The boogie will be held Saturday April 19th, and honestly, the lineup looks awesome featuring Cedric Burnside, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Ben Sollee & Friends, Liz Brasher, The Pine Hill Haints, and Young Valley. Bands from previous years include Alabama Shakes, Jason Isbell, Lonnie Holley Band, Heath Green & the Makeshifters, and so many more!
But it’s not just Alabama Sawyer that thinks the Old 280 Boogie is great, Garden & Gun had great things to say about it too, “Part music festival, part yard-party, this BYOB event draws fans twice a year to tiny Waverly. Also called the Waverly Boogie, its spring installment has been going strong for seventeen years, and organizer Scott Peek added the Fall Boogie in 2012. Music runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., with as many as six bands.”
So what are you waiting for? Go to their website and buy a ticket!
SOURCES & FURTHER READING
1) If you've never listened to 90.3 WBHM, then you're really missing out. They deliver high quality news broadcasting on topics ranging from the arts to science & technology. We love supporting them, even if that support goes out in the form of simply tuning in and paying attention. But we also like to give them money, and you should too.
2) According to its description on Google, Red Mountain Park is a "1,500-acre park with 15 miles of scenic trails, historic mines, zip lines, tree house & a dog park." Speaking of hiking, there's nothing better than hiking a Red Mountain trail with loved ones. For me "loved ones" refers to my framed picture of Frances McDormand bench pressing a grizzly bear.
3) The first time I visited the Birmingham Zoo, I got to bottle feed a koala. Then I got pooped on by some birds at the Aviary. Needless to say it was the best day of my life. On a completely different note, Alabama Sawyer has made a bunch of different stools for the Birmingham Zoo, so be sure to check them out the next time you visit!
4) The Birmingham Museum of Art is a great place to visit if you get the chance. I know I know. You might hate museums because you think they're boring. That was my position on museums before I ever visited one, the BMA being the first. Honestly, they've had some pretty great exhibits and pieces on display over the years. And I'm not just saying that because they've exhibited some of our furniture before. No, I've liked visiting the BMA long before I started working here.
5) Here is a description of Workshops, Inc. taken directly from their website, "Workshops, Inc. provides outsourcing solutions for local businesses. All outsourced handwork is completed by people with disabilities and other barriers to employment who are striving for their highest vocational potential." We've worked with Workshops, Inc. in the past, and would love to work with them again.
Michael Corkery of the New York Times recently published an article on the growing number of cities around the U.S. that are halting their recycling programs. According to the article, China (a big buyer of U.S. recyclable material) reduced spending after it was determined that far too much trash was getting mixed in with the recyclables. This has prompted an increase in the cost it takes to recycle, and the subsequent closing of many recycling centers around the U.S.
Something really cool about this piece is that the online version links to an article which lists six items that are commonly put into recycling bins by mistake. If your city still has an affordable recycling program, that's great! Just make sure you're not recycling non recyclable materials.
That said, one thing about the article is certain, there's a need for more innovative and lasting recycling solutions.
“Plastic Bottles Bottles Recycling.” PICRYL- The World's Largest Public Domain Source, 19 Mar. 2019, picryl.com/media/plastic-bottles-bottles-recycling-736da0.
Corkery, Michael. “As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/03/16/business/local-recycling-costs.html.
According to a recent AL.com article, Alabama will be introducing a 10 cent per gallon gas tax in order to pay for roads. The plan is to phase the gas tax in over the next three years, which would accrue around $380 million annually.
How long have you been working at MAKEbhm?
I’ve been here a little over two years.
What’s your favorite thing about working with MAKEbhm?
I love being at Make (MAKEbhm) because working alone can be really isolating. So working in a space like this I feel like I have coworkers. And I feel like your work ethic plays off of other people.
How did you get into jewelry making?
In college I decided that I wanted to learn how to make jewelry because I’ve always been interested in it. So I talked to the dean of my school and there was a girl who attended my school and she was a goldsmith out in New Mexico, and I emailed her. She invited me to come out and do an apprenticeship, so I did that for a few weeks out in New Mexico just to see if I liked it. After I graduated college I went to Revere Academy in San Francisco for jewelry making.
On your website it says, “A.K. is inspired by the imperfections of this life, but how the imperfect can still be used to display undeniable beauty. She hopes to achieve this idea in her designs.” Can you tell me about some pieces you’ve made that reflect this idea of capturing imperfect beauty?
A lot of my pieces start out with me just looking at a stone, and then creating it from that. So a lot of the stones that I pick out aren’t perfect. I’m drawn to those stones. The metal isn’t necessarily going to be perfect when setting a stone like that- I like that you can see the imperfections. Imperfections aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But that’s the thing about custom orders, people really want a piece that feels like them.
Could you name some artists whose work inspires your own OR artists whose work you admire?
The jewelry artist who inspires me the most is Marco Bicego, he’s actually why I started getting into jewelry making. A lot of it is cast but still has these little imperfections that I love. I also tend to pay attention to the cycles that fashion is going through, but I’ll find a specific piece that I like that inspires me to make something.
Composting is a great way to generate fertilizer for your garden. That said - ensure you’re not composting materials that shouldn’t be composted.
Vegetarian animal poop = perfect to compost; feel free to use rabbit, chicken, horse, and cow poop. The rule of thumb is that manure from vegetarian animals is acceptable while manure from carnivorous animals is not. Meaning no contributions from Mr. Whiskers.
A Hungry Bunch taken from the Library of Congress.
Inorganic Materials + Diseased Plants + Cooking Oil
This should be obvious, but anything that’s glass, metal, or plastic isn’t going to break down in a compost pile. Additionally, treated lumber or sawdust from treated lumber shouldn’t be composted. As far as diseased plants go, think about it. Do you really want to raise plants using compost from a diseased plant? Probably not. And cooking oil? It’s hard to break down cooking oil and will eventually attract pests. Cooking oil actually slows down the decomposition process, so you’re better off disposing of it some other way.
Meat + Dairy Products
Technically you can compost meats, but doing so will give your compost pile seriously bad odor. Additionally, don’t be surprised when your pile becomes the most popular eatery for our friend the squirrel, or his friend the raccoon. You should avoid composting dairy products for the same reasons you avoid composting meat. Smelliness + uninvited critters.
This includes magazines, business cards with a shiny finish, catalogs, wrapping paper, etc… Usually this type of paper has been chemically treated. Interestingly enough the Alabama Sawyer business card would be fine to compost since it doesn't have that shiny finish.
Since we're on the topic of compost, feel free to check out our Petite Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin.
https://www.loc.gov/item/thc1995003748/PP/ (glass bottle image taken from the library of congress)
Alabama Sawyer is doing a sweepstakes with Dering Hall. You could win a free Miyake Bench! Just enter your name and email address and you're all set. Be sure to enter by March 13th in order to be eligible. If you'd rather purchase our Miyake Bench, or if the sweepstakes is over, you can find it on our website.
How long have you been working at MAKEbhm?
I think we started in October of 2016, so, how ever many years it’s been since then. A little over two years.
What's your favorite thing about working at MAKEbhm?
So we started in office from the west coast. In a sense I was this random satellite office on my own. But I had just come from working with 35 people everyday. And I realized very quickly that working from my kitchen was very lonely. But from day one at MAKE, it’s like I had a built in office. I actually had office-mates. I would say it’s really the community and camaraderie.
On your website it says you are working to, “bring social awareness to issues of housing and density within the urban setting.” Could you list some of the issues associated with housing and density in the urban setting?
In San Francisco that work looks different than it does here. The big problem there is that there’s a lot of jobs, and a lot people want to live there. But there’s not a lot of land. So there are affordability issues because construction is so expensive. So we work to find innovative ways to make construction more affordable and less expensive. That could be affordability by design by making smaller units. Just innovative housing models that still provides a high quality building for a lower cost. We know that a lot of people in the country are housing burdened, meaning they spend more than a third of their income on housing.
That’s not good, it’s hard to thrive when you’re paying that much for housing. Even a place like Birmingham where people think it’s a cheap place to live, the data still shows us that people are still housing burdened. In Birmingham one of the issues has just been to raise the conversation because the conversation is not being had. In San Francisco, random people on the bus talk about these issues. But here, it’s not really the topic. But still some of our cities are experiencing an economic boom, so prices are pretty high in Birmingham and Chattanooga right now. So we realized that we can use a lot of strategies that we cooked up in San Francisco in the South East as well.
What type of work do you do for the neighborhood-serving community center in Hunter’s View?
That’s a master planned community that used to be a post WWII government developed housing project that was in disrepair and not designed well. So we had done three blocks in that neighborhood, and now we’re doing a fourth. The community center is the crown jewel of that plan, it sits right in the center and is underneath affordable family housing.
We designed that whole building all the way from looking at how it fit into the zoning of that area, we configured the building. There’s a daycare center there and a food bank as well. There’s community events and exercise spaces. We designed all of that in a pretty cost effective environment. So we had to really sharpen our pencils to get that project to work.
What is your favorite project you've ever worked on?
Hmm, that’s tough. You know, I like most everything I work on. One of my favorite things is Potrero 1010 because I worked on it from the first year I was in office from 2006 and it just finished last year. It’s also a great example of a public private partnership since there’s a public park that a private developer maintains. It’s also a mixed income building so you have people making like, 30% of what the average San Franciscan makes living in that building.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Well, it never gets old to see something that I’ve drawn, and designed, and dreamed come to reality. I cry at probably every project grand opening just because of the stories of people that were living in their car. It gets me every single time. Even if it’s like, a coffee shop. That feeling never gets old.
I interviewed candle maker Elizabeth Cameron of ECam and Co. in her workshop where I was greeted by a strong wave of various candle scents. Glass vessels of multiple shapes and sizes lined the shelves, some with her brand specific label and some without. I began with a question about her length of time at MAKEbhm...
How long have you been working at MAKEbhm?
I have been here since September. So just a couple of months, but it feels like forever.
What's your favorite thing about working at MAKEbhm?
I love that I get to share this space with so many creative people, but that I’m not in anybody’s way over here in my little corner room. But like I said, I also love the group aspect of it. I can talk to anybody who’s in here and everyone is friendly. You meet new people everyday, and I think that’s really fun.
How do you hope your business will grow and evolve in the coming years?
This year starting in January, this became my full time job. I had a day job for a while, and so there are a lot of things that are changing daily. I've grown so much in the past two months. One is example is that I got my candles into a couple more stores. I hope I continue to get into more stores and that I continue to get my name out there so that people recognize me when they see my products. But I am still taking it day by day. I'm not really looking to become this multi million dollar company though.
What first inspired you to start making candles?
So all of my candles are made out of wine and liquor bottles. I love wine and liquor bottles, but hated throwing them away. I hated the fact that it isn't good for the environment. So I instead of buying all of these toxin filled candles I decided I would try to make my own. It's also very unique, there aren't a lot of people out there who do the same concept. I have find ways to make mine unique and different with my own branding.
What are some of your favorite scents?
Currently my favorite scents are midnight bourbon, lush linen, grapefruit mint. One I just recently got is called cashmere cedar, it's very clean and sweet which I like.
What is the hardest part of the candle making process?
There are a lot of difficult thing in my day to day tasks. Cutting the bottles tends to be very hard. It can be dangerous but it takes a lot of practice. There are a lot of technical things that go along with it, there is science behind it. It's not just pouring and drying. Communicating with other businesses is also kind of difficult, I've grown a lot and learned a lot talking to other people. One of the main difficulties is me not having any employees. I'm doing everything on the business side to actually making candles, which I chose. It's a little scary some days because the business side is the most important side of it. It's the boring side, but you have to learn. I've learned by designing a website to taxes. Like I said, it's not just pouring candles. There's a lot that goes with it.
You do custom orders, right? Like, someone will bring you a bottle and then specify what type of scent they want?
Yeah! I do custom orders all the time. I have a lot of people that bring me specific bottles from a wedding anniversary, or maybe they just like that bottle. I don't do custom scents though. If someone is like, "can you mix X and Y?" I don't do that. I offer what's available. But the custom orders are always really fun. Some people will bring me containers in funky shapes, which makes it fun not to do the same thing over and over.
It starts next Tuesday (March 5th) and is here at Make (MAKEbhm). It's going to consist of a maximum of 10 people per class. The first one is going to be kind of a trial run. You'll be able to pick from pre-cut bottles that are going to be available for each week of the class. And you can pick one vessel to fill around 12 ounces of wax in a variety of scents. I'll be teaching the basics, and the class will be an hour and a half on Tuesday nights. Hopefully it will be once a month or every 6 weeks.
Well, that's it. Thank you for letting me interview you!
I recently got the opportunity to sit down and chat with some of the creative folks at MAKEbhm, which is a group of businesses that include Alabama Sawyer, ECam and Co., Amanda Loper, and more.
Did you know that spending time around wooden furniture can benefit your health? Here are some of the ways:
- It improves your emotional state
- It increases your cognitive ability
- It reduces your stress levels
- It improves air quality through humidity moderation
- It stores carbon long term - thus fighting climate change
You might be wondering how wooden furniture can benefit a person’s health. Research does tell us that being around wood furniture produces similar health effects to spending time in nature. Moreover wood tends to elicit feelings of warmth, comfort, and relaxation. Regardless of its effects, wood has a pleasing look that helps you feel more connected to nature, and at the end of the day, who doesn't love that?
At Alabama Sawyer, we want you to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Here are some tips on how to be more eco friendly in the kitchen and around the house:
Featured image of the woman in the green jumpsuit taken from the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/
Link to BD Food Safety Infographic: https://www.slideshare.net/bdsafety18/kitchen-cleaning-tips%20