Tuesday, July 31, 2007

teenage caveman

Man, the pace is fast, the body is tired.

This week, we've a number of notable things going on:

1. Jose Velasco came back from California, so he's back with us, part-time and temporary-like, until we grow enough to add a more regular position.

2. Starting yesterday, we're running a total of 7 crew members - a crew of 3 and a crew of 4. That's exciting because it means that more folk are working/getting paid/getting trained, and because it's a glimpse of one of our key goals: self-sufficiency...

See, if we can get to a 7 person crew, and charge $40/worker/hour for their services, the Nursery will be a self-sufficient operation. Earned income from services will pay for all of the Nursery's direct, fixed and variable costs, a great position for any business, but especially a social enterprise.

Here's one of the projects we're working on, a new housing development impacting wetlands and a creek. Local ordinance requires wetland enhancement through removal of invasive plant species (e.g., himalayan blackberry), with great care taken not to remove/cut existing native plants like snowberry, salmonberry, sword ferns, &c. Where mature natives are removed/cut, the developer has to replace each removed native with two new natives, so preservation is key and its alternative is costly.

This is hard, slow work, and requires a crew with the ability to distinguish between native plants and invasives, a skill set we've been working on since the Nursery's inception. The picture at the top, and this one below, give you an idea of what the project looks like at the start...
ok, back to the cave...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

like blue sunshine

Strange rainy Portland July weather, carrying with it many extra/1x gigs.

This week and for a few upcoming, we'll expand the crew to 6, split them up into dos quadrillas de tres. This is good thing, because it allows us to hire and train more people, more green jobs for low income people.

This is because we've got some sizable (for) us jobs, jobs in addition to our regular gigs (Hacienda CDC, Smith & Bybee Lakes, Crystal Springs/Eastmoreland, City of Portland Stormwater Management Facilities). We've got a 5day gig at Goat Island, part of our enduring partnership with SOLV's Team Up for Watershed Health program. And, we've got a couple weeks installing erosion control fencing (a new skills for us, and I got to use a trencher - and 4wheel en la camion verde!Yeah!) and some detailed invasives removal for Ortiz & Associates. Very nice.

It's good that we're growing, but that also means that we've got to deliver, which is always nerve racking (them words just don't look right).

We're also starting to cook up this funky restaurant technical assistance program, based on/a replication of the thimmakka bay area can of whoop ass...


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ain't no new news here

one of the reasons we do what we do is because we want low income people to get well paying environmental jobs. and, of course, not just the people we employ (that wouldn't be much of an impact on the grand scheme of things. the small scheme of things is important, but still..).

no, we'd like other community development groups to look at our experiences, take whatever is useful for their needs and communities, and create more of these jobs and businesses.

this is why we find ourselves running our mouths a lot, sharing information in different media sources - magazines, online interviews, local dailies, and whomever else wants to listen to our story, because we want other low-income communities to know that economic opportunities exist in environmental protection

and that they're not getting any of 'em

I hear we'll be in an upcoming Sustainable Industries Journal as part of a story on green collar jobs, and they're gonna put my mug in the chinook book, which is pretty creepy...

stay cool/go jump in a lake.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

not enough time (make time stop)

damn! it's tuesday! and I ain't blogged! damn! it's tuesday! and I ain't blogged!

It's a new fiscal year, and we should take a minute to feel good about ourselves, and to say goodbye to one of Verde's heavy lifters.

For reasons I have difficulty explaining, we have exceeded our goals for Earned Income (income from services) and for Grants, and have managed to keep our expenses mostly at or below budget projections. This is really a testament to our kickass crew, our true story, and the strength of our partners, advisers, and board of directors.

New fiscal year also means change, and we're saying adios to Heidi Soderberg, Verde's inaugural Board Chair and world-renowned zydeco dancer. Heidi serves as Executive Director for SE Works, a kickass operation in its own right, and it's really not possible to exaggerate how much she's given to Verde, especially to some punkass, wet-behind-the-ears executive director (wet-behind-the-ears enough to use the word "punkass" in the company blog) who was beyond clueless when this all began.

So, to review: good fiscal year, goodbye Heidi, E.D. still clueless but somewhat less so...

happy 4-Of-7