Benedictine Brewery On Tap in Mt. Angel, Oregon

The Benedictine Brewery in Mt. Angel, Oregon. Photo by Loren Nelson

In November of 2018 we had a community raising for the Mount Angel Abbey’s Benedictine Brewery. One hundred volunteers gathered early, listened thoughtfully to a strategy introduction and a safety meeting, and got it done.

Of the people who showed up to help, about 50 or so were from Mount Angel Abbey, the monastery at the top of the hill where we were working. We had our team and timber framers from companies who are part of the Timber Framers Guild from all around come to help. (You can read about that amazing day in a previous blog post, and we’ve included the raising video at the end of this post.)

This season, the Brewery has been up and running with plenty On Tap. We’re excited to be working with them again, this time extending their covered outdoor space to accommodate and shelter more folks:

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Putting Children First: RCN Timber Pavilion Classroom

As we’re looking forward to more of the holiday season, we wanted to share on a local community project we are thankful to have been part of: the Rochester Childfirst Network (RCN) Capital Campaign.

We practice the Triple Bottom Line business model of People, Planet, and Profit, putting equal importance on each with the belief that the mission of a for-profit business shouldn’t solely focus on profit. If sustainability is about benefitting people and planet in the long-term, community engagement is a vital component. We’re stronger when we work together. The RCN Capitol Campaign has rallied many companies and with good reason as this organization has been supporting the education and welfare of children in urban Rochester, NY since 1857.

The effort to revitalize and create “Natural Play” for the children of RCN an outdoor pavilion/classroom was conceptualized and developed collaboratively with support by local partners including Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care, IDEX Health & Science, and Barton & Loguidice. The outdoor pavilion/classroom will act as the centerpiece of RCN’s backyard play environment, a new initiative to incorporate more natural, accessible play opportunities.

Marsha Dumka, RCN’s interim Executive Director said, “This new pavilion will provide endless possibilities for true outdoor learning for our children. During the raising the children talked about all the ways they could use the pavilion in the spring – talent show, play, art studio, classroom for messy STEM experiments, picnics. We can’t wait!”

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Found-forms and Timber Shelters

School has started again and it has us thinking about recess (who doesn’t love recess?) and thereby the playscapes kids enjoy. We began asking what role wood has in these spaces which brought to the discussion a recent project at the Lilac Adventure Zone Playground. A “natural playground” in Highland Park in Rochester, NY by Barton & Loguidice, the space highlights found forms for play and modern pavilions for shelter.

There has been a surge in natural playgrounds [natural playscapes] which inherently focus on wood and the natural landscape. “Biophilic design, connecting with nature, was central to this playground project,” explained Tom Robinson, senior landscape architect, and LEED AP at Barton & Loguidice.

Biophilia. It’s a term that we’re hearing with regularity these days, and that’s exciting! From Edward Wilson’s “Biophilia” meaning ‘the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms’. Research is conclusive that access to nature and nature-inspired spaces help reduce stress and illness. “We’re trying to recreate the experience of playing in the woods, in fields with rocks and sticks. The idea is to encourage exploration and free play with natural materials,” continued Tom.

Many young explorers and adventurers amidst the natural elements of Lilac Adventure Zone Playground.

The playground itself evolved as the natural materials arrived, trees, branches, rocks salvaged from other park project renovations. “The elements within the playground tend to change and morph as materials initially arrive, and as time passes and elements need to be removed/replaced.”

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Picking the Right Timber Framer

Author, Jonathan Orpin: founder and president of New Energy Works and Pioneer Millworks; board member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild, enjoys some time on the water.

From Jonathan:

For years I’ve resisted writing this post. It can come off as very self-serving. Please don’t let it. Instead, I’ll attempt to be as neutral-valued as I can, and share some of my 30-year history, and perhaps just a tad of the experiences, and sometimes frustrating stories, our clients have shared…and some that I have witnessed.

The timber frame industry has a great many good people in it, associated with it, and as I’ve often said, many of the coolest clients I can imagine. So first, think about a timber framer who is involved with the Timber Framers Guild. At our Guild conferences and our meet-ups, in the committee work we do, in the publications we create, two important things occur: we learn, and are better professionals because of it; we share, and our craft is better for it. In both cases you win.

Photo courtesy of the Timber Framers Guild.

And when you ask, “Is your company a member?” be sure to dig just bit deeper. Do you attend the conferences? Do you send your shop folk and your designers? Do you give, as well as receive?

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Unforgettable: Timber Framers Guild Western Conference

Timber frame champion and Guild member, Darren Watson, shares with us about the Timber Framers Guild Western Conference:

To say that Timberline Lodge is a good location for the Timber Framers Guild is akin to saying that the Grand Canyon is an attractive hole in the ground. Timberline Lodge, on Mount Hood, is the perfect location for this community of like-minded individuals and companies to come together and gain new knowledge from each other and from the wisdom of those that built this magnificent structure at the height of the Great Depression working for the WPA. Timberline Lodge was built scrappily using site sourced rocks and trees and reclaimed materials including telephone poles turned into carved newel posts on the stairs and fireplace andirons made from an old railroad track. As was said by The Builders of Timberline Lodge, Federal Writers’ Project, “Each workman on Timberline Lodge gained proficiency in manual arts. He was a better workman, a better citizen, progressing by infinitely slow steps to the degree above him.” So does the Guild, and these conferences, build each of us into better craftspeople.

Many of our coworkers joined the Timber Framers Guild annual Western Conference in May. From the left: Mike W, Eric, Michael H, Justin, Simon, Sean, Chuck, David, Mike R, Maxine, Jonathan O, Jonathan T, and Alexander (plus Darren (yep, that’d be me) behind the camera). Mike W, Sean, Jonathan, and I hosted different educational presentations during the conference.

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