Today we have the bittersweet task of saying goodbye to Shannon. She's been answering your phone calls and emails, working with our craftspeople to ensure your furniture is built to spec, arranging the shipping and delivery of your furniture and generally jumping through whatever hoops are necessary to make things go smoothly for you.
But now Shannon is off to another adventure and will be bringing her talents to the Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition, working with teens and adults to prevent substance abuse.
We're sorry to see her go, but wish Shannon all the best in her new job.
Just so you don't worry about your orders that may be in crafting or shipping, I will let you know that Shannon's done an excellent job of training Heather G who will step into her job here at Vermont Woods Studios. Heather is backed up by Douglas, Kendall and myself so hopefully, between the four of us we'll make this transition seamlessly for you.
Once again, we'd like to thank Shannon for all her hard work and fine contributions to our company. Come back and join us for Taco Wednesdays, Shannon!
If you call or stop by Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture today looking for Shannon, you will unfortunately have to chat with Douglas or me instead.
Shannon is celebrating a special occasion today.
We wish her a relaxing Spring day, which in our world of rural Vermont typically means one of raking leaves and hiking with the dogs. Enjoy!
But don't forget to come back tomorrow.
Guest Blogger: Shannon Albritton
WARNING: No hazmat suits, protective eyewear or gloves required to read this message
My very first thought when we launched our Green-Up Your Workplace Challenge here at Vermont Woods Studios was “I can’t wait to get those toxic cleaning products out of our bathroom!” There’s nothing worse than walking into a ‘freshly cleaned bathroom’ and needing to open the window to dissipate the smell of bleach and chemicals. I was quick to volunteer for the task of purchasing a new assortment of green cleaning products. Permission granted!
My personal aversion to the odor of chemical-based products aside, there are a variety of factors to consider when selecting cleaning products:
Important reasons to consider when going green with your clean:
- When toxic chemicals are sprayed, dumped, rinsed or washed the hazardous environmental effects are outstanding
- 6 billion pounds of chemicals are dumed into the environment each year
- Cancer, autism, birth defects, skin & respiratory sensitivies and asthma are on the rise without adequate explanation why
Possible environmental consequences of using chemical cleaning products:
- Air pollution
- Bioaccumulation of toxic substances in plants and animals
- Endocrine disruption in wildlife, which affects reproductive ability
- Ozone depletion
- Water pollution
And, if the above isn’t enough to convince you, consider the following warning label comparison:
Warning Label Clorox Clean-Up reads: Eye & Skin Irritant: Causes substantial but temporary eye injury. Do not get in eyes or on clothing. Wear protect eyewear (really?) Harmful if swallowed. For sensitive skin or prolonged use wear gloves. Avoid prolonged breathing of vapors and use in well ventilated areas. (Yeesh! – did they forget the hazmat suit?)
Warning Label Biokleen Bac-Out Bathroom Cleaner: Caution: In case of eye contact, flush eyes with cool water for 15 minutes. In case of ingestion, do not induce vomitting; drink plenty of water to dilute. (That was easy)
Have I convinced you yet? Here comes the reinforcement…
- Animal Testing – I’ll leave the gory details to your imagination but let’s face it, choosing products which use No Animal Testing and No Animal Ingredients should be a no-brainer in 2012. Store shelves provide a variety options and alternatives for friendlier choices that don’t include a science lab full of beagles testing your bathroom cleaner for skin allergies…
Products from earth-friendly companies like Biokleen (my personal favorite), Ecover, Seventh Generation offer a safe and comprehensive product line for cleaning your office and home. Many products are available in concentrated form which also helps keep our planet green. Less waste in plastic bottles and containers has a direct impact on our energy consumption and pollution from manufacturing. In many cases these concentrated products are very cost effective because you’re not paying for the bottle over and over again. I’ve been using Biokleen for years and strongly recommend them. Not only are their products safe and green they actually work and smell wonderful!
So, let’s recap: Choosing to green-up your workplace by replacing toxic cleaning products laden with harsh chemicals with green cleaning alternatives is my # 1 choice because it:
- Removes harsh chemicals from the air
- Keeps chemicals from leeching into our water systems and plants
- Prevents negative effects on the reproduction of our wildlife
- Keeps the air quality safe for myself, my coworkers & our customers
- No hazmat suit, protective eyewear or gloves required
- No Animal Testing or Animal Products
- Concentrated formulas save on waste and pollution
- Smells great – no artificial fragrances, colors or preservatives
Now head on over to the Vermont Woods Studios Virtual Green-Up Your Workplace Challenge and show your love for my #1 green-up tip. Be sure to share your green cleaning tips with the rest of us and tell us how you’re greening up your workplace too!
Warning: No animals, vegetables or minerals have been harmed in the making of this message
Guest Blogger: Shannon Albritton
Customer Champion at Vermont Woods Studios
It’s certainly not a news flash that Vermont has received below average snowfall this winter. Who am I kidding? We’ve probably had less snow than Georgia (please don’t fact check this). On the heels of 2011’s over-the-top weather including abominable winter snow storms and hurricane-force floods it seems Mother Nature may be taking a time-out for bad behavior… or maybe she thinks we deserve a break?
So while ‘Mother’ is kicking back in her flip-flops [I picture her sipping a blood orange, ginger mimosa from a treehouse in Costa Rica] University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center is receiving calls from concerned maple syrup lovers with fears that this year’s easy-breezy winter could take the sweetness out of maple syrup production? We just want to know; will there be syrup for our honey-buckwheat blueberry pancakes?
Many Vermont maple syrup producers, known as sugarmakers, are beginning the season 2-3 weeks earlier this year and some long-time producers report this to be their earliest start ever. Sugarmakers are reaching out to one another seeking asking questions such as “When are you starting?” and “It is time?” One producer has decided not to tap his trees at all this year because he’s already seen signs of leaf buds. Once maple trees have begun to bud an off flower flavor occurs in the sap and brings a halt to the season.
What’s the general word from Vermont’s sugarmakers to all of us who love that sticky-sweet maple syrup, candy, taffy and it’s amber brown goodness? It looks like we’re all going to be OK. Turns out the weather while the sap is flowing is more critical than the weather leading up to the big event. Vermont sugarmakers are hoping for just the right balance of freezing and thawing temperatures during the six-week sap flow season to maintain just the right flow. For the moment they’re looking good though too many warm days and not enough freezing nights could still cause an impact. Overall sugarmakers seem encouraged that all is well in maple sugar land and our pancakes will surely be graced, once again, by our much loved liquid gold.
Although the fate of this year’s maple sugaring season may lie in the hands of a flip-flop wearing, mimosa sipping woman chilling on an exotic island, I have faith – faith that Vermont will do what Vermont always does – figure it out and make do with whatever Mother Nature blows our way.
A friend told me his young daughter has learned to read the maple trees and they tell her when the time is right to begin tapping. She hasn’t been wrong yet. I’m going to contact him and see what she’s predicting for the season. I’m guessing she’s got a hotline straight to our ‘Mother’. One thing’s for sure – Vermont’s sugarmakers aren’t ready to back down from this tap dance just yet — show us your moves Mother Nature.
Watch this delightful video of Henry Emmons, 67, of Red Rock Maple Farm in Starksboro VT and see the maple sugar flow as he started making maple syrup this week as day-time temperatures soar. (Produced my Emily McManamy, Burlington Free Press)
Shannon is always whipping us into shape here at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. In the few months she's been here, she's made several suggestions to help us get greener. For example… do you use paper towels or hand dryers in your restroom? Neither is all that green…so Shannon got Ken to go out and purchase cotton hand towels for each person in the office (color coded, of course). She even has Douglas buying organic half and half for his coffee… who knew?
And now we have organic, shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee in our break room. I had written in January about the importance of buying shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee (we learned this from our friend Roz Renfrew over at the Vermont Center for EcoStudies). Unfortunately we've gotten spolied with our K-cup coffee brewer though and I was feeling bad that I couldn't find K-cups with bird friendly coffee. But Shannon came through as usual and found a company called San Francisco Bay Coffee, whose:
100% Arabica coffee is shade-grown on high altitude farms over 3000 feet elevation. These farms employ a bio-diverse natural cover of shade trees to develop the beans slowly – and give them more character and depth compared to full-sun, "monoculture" coffee farms. This shade grown farming also provides habitat to animals and birds and helps restore the ecosystems including local water supplies. We are committed to organic farming as well, and we’ve perfected innovative techniques to turn coffee pulp waste into organic fertilizer using vermiculture (worm composting)! We’re spreading that technology to organic farms (and even non-organic ones) throughout the world.
I'm happy to report that the coffee tastes great! I did take a picture of Shannon drinking a cup but she deleted it and sent this one over instead. Everyone around here is so camera shy.
We've only got Kendall for a few more days before he ditches us at Vermont Woods Studios and goes back to college after a nice long winter break. That's pretty sad because he's been cranking out the website work these last few weeks– stuff that none of the rest of us (except Manjula, of course) know how to do.
Anyway, Kendall's becoming a Facebook genie and he's set up a "Staff Picks" tab. This week he's featuring Shannon's favorite furniture, the Modern American Dining Set. It's a beautiful solid cherry table and benches– very simple but very elegant too.
Here it is all dressed up by our favorite set designer, Erica Ell. If you love it as much as Shannon does, fan us on Facebook and get an extra 5% off.
We are delighted to introduce you to Shannon Albritton, our newest Green Team member here at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture. Shannon's official title is: Sales Ace and Customer Champion. She'll be here along with Rebecca to answer your phone calls, place/track orders and arrange shipping.
Shannon's from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Her background includes extensive experience in sales and marketing positions and she loves helping customers figure out how to get exactly what they're looking for. Shannon's husband is a talented woodworker so she brings a detailed knowledge of woodworking, furniture styles, joinery and finish options with her.
She's also a passionate environmentalist who walks the talk in every aspect of her life. She's been inspiring us to keep improving our sustainable practices at work and at home too. Today she got Manjula and me up from our computers in the middle of the afternoon to go outside for a "7th inning stretch". It felt so good that now we're trying to get her to lead an after hours yoga class
We are very lucky to have Shannon on board! When you're talking to her about your furniture order, maybe ask her about her hiking career (she hiked a portion of the Na Pali Coast in Kauai barefoot). I think that's probably only one of many good stories she has to tell.
By Shannon Albritton
This is the second installment from our newest Vermont Woods Studios staff member, Shannon Albritton. She recently moved to Marlboro, Vermont from New Hope, PA and is sharing her adventures as she lives through the after-effects of Hurricane Irene.
On Thursday evening I attended my first Vermont town meeting. We arrived early and helped set up folding chairs in a semi-circle, “So we can all see each other”, suggested a volunteer.
More than 200 Marlboro residents filled the school gymnasium. We looked tired but seemed in generally positive spirits. We greeted each other and exchanged our tales of woes and Vermont-made miracles. We listened intently to our town leaders and emergency management officials as they laid out the next steps and protocols for moving forward in our little town, where 80% of our roads had been destroyed. A local farm brought pizza for all to share. The rate at which we devoured every last piece of this delicious, hot, homemade treat told me I wasn’t the only one who had forgotten to eat that day.
Following the meeting, I met Josh Stilts, reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer. He expressed his concern for the people still stranded down off Auger Hole Rd. I confirmed his concerns and told him my husband and I had hiked in earlier that day to check on friends. I offered to escort Josh down the mountain the next day via a logging road behind my home. Josh eagerly accepted my invitation and we parted ways.
Friday morning I waited on the grounds of Marlboro College to hear Governor Peter Shumlin speak about his plans to put us back together. As I walked into the auditorium I stopped, turned and there was the Governor right in front of me! We had just about run into each other. A bit star-struck and caught of guard I shook his hand and thanked him for doing a great job. “It’s the people of Vermont who are doing a great job” he said, as he squeezed my hand and moved forward toward the stage.
His speech told of the heroic acts of Vermonters and our resilience and tenacity. He shared that a reporter, who had covered Katrina and Joplin Missouri, had commented that he was inspired but the general positive attitude and community of the people of Vermont in the wake of that wicked-woman Irene.
Following the speech, I met Josh outside and we headed to the logging trail. I filled my backpack with frozen water bottles, granola bars and my solar shower for my friends “in the hole” and we set off to down the mountain. I’m not sure the actual distance, it feels like a one-mile on the way down and six on the way back up.
At the bottom I introduced Josh and passed my tour guide torch off to my friend Kim who led us further down into the Auger Hole. Kim informed Josh on how they were surviving and getting supplies. One man, thought to be in cardiac distress, had been carried out by several others the previous night and rushed to the hospital. They were not sure if he had survived but I was able to inform her he was in fact, OK and just severely dehydrated. “We couldn’t call for help so they carried him out”, she said. “We feel deserted down here, you’re the first people to come to check on us”. We continued our hike down the road turned riverbed once known as Auger Hole Rd. The very same road I drove every day to work when I first moved to Vermont. What now lies in its place is indescribable and pictures can barely do it justice. Picture an empty riverbed approximately 25’ deep and 30’ wide as a long as the eye can see.
A local man had grown tired of waiting for township approval and brought his equipment into the hole to construct a temporary road to free those trapped on the other side. His equipment appears like a tinker toy at the bottom of the pit. Josh snapped photos and took video interviews. “It would be pretty awesome if it wasn’t so tragic…” I said, as we stood staring awestruck down into the hole. We all nodded quietly and walked on.
Moments later Emergency Management arrived on the scene with cases of water and MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat). Will & Rory, stranded residents of the Auger Hole, loaded them on borrowed ATVs and stuffed them into backpacks. These guys were referred to, in Josh’s article the following morning, as the dynamic-duo as they buzzed over the rocky terrain to deliver supplies to the stranded homes.
Feeling better knowing that the people of Auger Hole were stocked with food, clean water and on the road to safety, Josh and I packed up and headed back up the mountain towards home. It was a long climb back up that logging trail and we had plenty of time and content for good conversation. I asked him if he had enough content for his article and he replied, “plenty!” We then walked silently for a while, reflecting on they day and absorbing it into our minds and our hearts. I disrupted our silence, “So what’s your angle going to be?” and he paused and then replied, “there are so many, but I think I will go with the survival angle, being isolated down there and how they’ve all been working together with the resources they have to help each other.” I nodded in confirmation and flashed back to Governor Shumlin’s opening comment during his speech earlier that morning, “First I just want to say, I’ve seen more acts of generosity, bravery and courage in the last four days than I’ve seen in my entire life”. Yep, I’d have to agree.
I read a quote recently from a Vermonter whose barn and porch were swept away by mean ol’ Irene, “That’s Mother Nature” he said, “And this is Vermont. We just roll with it.”
I may be a Flatlander, but if this is what Vermonters are made of, I am incredibly proud to be a Vermonter-in-Training
Josh Stilts’s article “Down in an Auger Hole” can be read online at The Brattleboro Reformer.