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Archives for December 21, 2015

Paradise Garden looking to the future with big restoration project – Rome News

SUMMERVILLE — Changes and improvements made during recent years at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden may pale in comparison to some of the work that is still on the drawing board.

“If the last time you were at Paradise Garden was maybe five years ago, you are in for a treat if you will come back,” said Eddie Elsberry, chairman of the Paradise Garden Foundation Board of Directors.

Finster, a preacher/bicycle repairman turned preacher/folk artist, created the garden over a series of years. He died in 2001. His artwork has graced the cover of REM record albums and can be seen in Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

Paradise Garden Executive Director Jordan Poole said that plans are slowly coming together for a major restoration project at the iconic Finster’s World’s Folk Art Church.

“We’ve been planning exactly how we’re going to tackle getting into a multi-use space, a learning center that people can come to be able to hear lectures, have receptions and all sorts of other things,” Poole said. “The church itself was not constructed with traditional construction (materials). It’s something you have to scratch your head at a little bit.”

Steven Vias, Cloudland, a retired nuclear engineer, is one of the people on the team of thinkers trying to develop a strategy for the restoration.

Poole said the rehabilitation and restoration could cost upwards of a million dollars and the foundation has already started searching for grants to help make the project happen. “We need to have good solid plans on a building like that first,” Poole said. “It’s definitely going to be a difficult project.”

Poole said that the work will involve stabilizing the structure, the replacement of a lot of rotten materials bit by bit, along with a near complete restoration of the exterior, which has been damaged by time and water.

Two years ago, an old barn, or shed, was converted into a clean, new gallery to show off some of Finster’s art and collectibles. The newness of the renovations is barely noticeable as visitors drive up to the gardens, 200 N. Lewis St.

“The most significant piece that we have done in the gardens in the past year is actually uncover some of the mosaic walkway that had just been covered over by silt since the 90s,” Elsberry said.

Elsberry also said crews pulled some tin off one building to reveal some hand paintings that Finster had done which no one had been aware of.

Poole said he believes Finster could envision the improvements that have been taking place the last couple of year. “I think he thought ahead,” Poole said.

Preserving the core of Finster’s collections and work has remained at the heart of each step of the restoration and renovation work that has taken place since the Paradise Garden Foundation was created in 2013.

For the past two years, visitors to Paradise Garden could actually stay in the Artist Cottage.

“We are a little judicious about the guests. We screen them a little bit,” Poole said. A night at the cottage includes a key to the garden that allows access throughout the evening.

An interior designer friend of Poole’s in Atlanta called on some of her clients to help mix and match the decorations in the cottage. The cottage includes items from the film Parental Guidance with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.

The cottage is a building that had been abandoned for many years. Half of the building was converted into office space for Poole and the foundation leaders.

Like so many landmarks, Poole is amazed at how many local people say they have never been to Paradise Garden.

The new winter hours are Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The last tours will actually begin at 4 p.m. Beginning Jan. 1, Paradise Garden will be raising its rates. “To value yourself, you have to value your admission price, plus it helps to make sure we can always pay for the meticulous landscaping we have here at Paradise Garden,” Poole said.

The admission will be $15 and $10 for seniors age 55 and older. Students will be admitted for $5. The current price is $5, $3 and $2.

Article source:

What Will a UNESCO City of Gastronomy Do for Tucson and for Other Cities?

By Gary Paul Nabhan

In December, Tucson, AZ Mayor Jonathan Rothschild announced that the city been designated the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States, becoming only the sixth metropolitan area in the country to join the United Nations’ Creative Cities Network.

The effort to achieve this designation took a dozen of us two and half years to accomplish. But non-profits, business alliances, government offices, universities, farmers, food bank managers and chefs learned to row in the same direction toward a common goal. That goal is tangibly advancing a more just, inclusive, healthful, prosperous, and sustainable food system; one that will be more resilient in the face of climate changes because it fully engages the unique cultural and natural assets of our community.

With more than 200,000 commentaries and congratulatory messages on social media, websites, and by telephone within four days, it has become clear to us that many individuals and constituencies in our community are on board with this goal. Furthermore, food justice activists in many other cities are eager to see what they can learn from Tucson’s success that can be applied to their own communities.

The irony, of course, is that Tucson’s food system is not perfect; in other words, it, like many others, in the process of being fixed. Tucson is not even a major destination for foodies and gourmets like New Orleans, Charleston, Portland, Santa Fe, Boston, or New York City. But that, in fact, is not what UNESCO is after, nor is it Tucson’s ambition to behave as a Santa Fe wanna-be. Instead, we want to demonstrate that even within a place that has suffered for decades from grinding poverty, water scarcity, and food insecurity, as well as high levels of diabetes and obesity, food systems innovations are now positively changing the health status of our citizens and the viability of our livelihoods and public institutions for the better.

Tucson prides itself on being the metropolis in North America with the oldest continuous history of agriculture within its city limits: 4,100 year old corn remains and 3,500 year old irrigation ditches can be found just a few miles from its downtown. While such an extraordinary cultural heritage of cultivating and processing native foods certainly matters to UNESCO, the City of Gastronomy honor came on the basis the city’s capacity for entrepreneurial innovations grounded in social and ecological values unique to this place.

Tucson is home to one of the oldest nonprofit community seed banks in North America—Native Seeds/SEARCH—that over a quarter century, has put tens of thousands of packets of desert-adapted seeds in the hands of Native American, Hispanic immigrant gardeners, farmers and schoolchildren in its foodshed. More recently, the Pima County Public Library has become a leader in the seed library movement, offering free seeds to home gardeners and schools through all of its seventeen branches in Tucson and its surrounding farm towns. Tucson not only hosted the first-ever convening of the nation’s heirloom seed activists at its historic Seed Banks Serving People forum in 1983; it again hosted seed activists at the first International Seed Library Forum in May of 2015. Today, nearly every farmers market in Tucson allows low-income residents to use SNAP benefits to purchase  seeds, seedlings, and fruit tree transplants from local vendors. Many in the community simply sees access to place-based seeds as a fundamental element of the human right to eat in a healthful and culturally-appropriate manner.

The same kinds of innovations have occurred in Tucson’s use of water to grow food. It was one of the first cities in the country to fully embrace low-water requiring edible landscaping and permaculture plant guilds in public spaces and private yards. When rain barrels for rooftop runoff collection became commercial available, tens of thousands of Tucson’s integrated them into their management of home orchards and vegetable gardens. Then, local water harvesting wizard Brad Lancaster convinced the city government to cut open the curbs of paved streets so that storm runoff from roads could re-green walkways and yards, thereby reducing the urban heat island effect.

When elderly urban residents who are housebound are unable to pick the citrus, pomegranates, and dates in their own yards, immigrant women affiliated with the nonprofit Iskashataa Refugee Network will come to glean them. Well over 100,000 pounds of edible fruit are annually being rescued from backyards and boulevard medians by these newcomers to Tucson, who use traditional methods from back home to process them into vinegars, syrups and healthful snacks.

When the University of Arizona anthropologists first pioneered food waste reduction in the 1980s through its internationally-famous Garbage Project, it became painfully obvious how much food American households let spoil once they bring it home from markets and stores. Today, dozens of university students who call themselves the “Compost Cats” not only collect all food waste on campus, but also do so from dozens of restaurants and cafes nearby, converting all of it into compost for gardens and farms in association with the Native American farm known as San Xavier Co-op.

Tucson area food banks are also national leaders in rescuing and redistributing produce from border brokers, in providing fresh locally-grown foods not just canned goods to low-income residents, and creating farm incubators where underemployed residents can grow food for themselves and for sale at farmers markets. Some of this food also ends up being used by Tucson’s astonishing number of food trucks, taco carts and mobile catering services. In fact, Tucson is tied with Los Angeles for having the greatest density of food trucks among major American cities.

Unlike San Francisco or Boston, most of these innovations have not been accomplished with philanthropic or government or conventional financing, but through entrepreneurial approaches that draw upon alternative financing. Arizona is top-rated among all states by the Kaufman Institute for Entrepreneurship for the number of independently-owned start-up business it has per ten thousand residents. In particular, Tucson ranks near the top of all cities surveyed in its number of restaurant and food truck start-ups, privately-funded community kitchens, community garden growers selling into farmers markets, and artisanal producers of value-added heritage foods.  

And yet, Tucson remains plagued by the presence of seven U.S. Department of Agriculture identified food deserts within ten miles of its hundred-year-old land grant university, by food insecurity being suffered by a third of its residents and by soaring rates of childhood diabetes and obesity. That’s why the Tucson Unified School District has partnered with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and the University of Arizona to bring vegetable gardens onto every school campus and locally-produced fresh foods into every school cafeteria. While such goals are not accomplished overnight, the Mayor recently appointed a Commission on Food Security, Heritage and Economy to break down the barriers to achieving such objectives.

Rather than merely using its new honor from UNESCO to attract culinary tourists, Tucson has rededicated itself to taking better care of its many residents that have formerly been marginalized by the globalized, industrialized food system. Its first public event as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy will be hosting a two day symposium called “Food Justice, Faith, and Climate Change” February 11-12th, 2016 at the new Center for Regional Food Studies on the University of Arizona campus (to pre-register and see full agenda see It will bring together advocates for farmworkers and food service workers, faith-based communities, food and climate justice activists, social scientists, and government agencies to forge broader alliances to vanish hunger and food insecurity in the face of a hotter, drier, and more water-scarce climate. For further information, contact Gary at

Gary Paul Nabhan, Ph.D., is a writer, lecturer, and world-renown conservation scientist. 

Article source:

Tough times inspire Mauricio Sosa to pursue Basalt Peace Garden

Basalt High School sophomore Mauricio Sosa is proving that bravery comes in many forms.

Sosa has a slight build, is soft-spoken and a bit shy. He said the shyness is a product of being picked on for so long. “Since I was in first grade, I’ve been made fun of or whatever,” he said.

Many victims of bullying would disengage, retreat into a shell and become a loner. Instead, Sosa is channeling his struggles into something positive, not only for himself but for every other student at Basalt High School.

He launched plans last year for a Peace Garden in a large, empty courtyard outside the school’s library. He first envisioned the garden as a place where he could go to take his mind off not fitting in. Now he sees it as a place where any student can go to relax and recharge.

“It would help me and other students to have a place,” he said.

Teachers and administrators at Basalt High School embraced the plan. Librarian Kate Bradley has been instrumental with shepherding Sosa through all the steps needed to turn it into reality. That includes enlisting support from other students, soliciting in-kind and financial support from businesses, working with the landscaping company on the physical plan and seeking grants.

The first big step came last year when Carbondale’s 5Point Film awarded Sosa with a $1,500 grant for the Peace Garden as part of its Dream Project. The Schuss Foundation matched the grant and Snowmass Chapel added $500. Sosa is seeking funds from the Aspen Thrift Shop.

The narrow, rectangular courtyard will have crushed gravel walking paths, extensive, drought-tolerant landscaping, benches and rock gardens. The centerpiece will be a mature crabapple tree surrounding by stones bearing inspirational quotes. There will be spaces where a person can hang out alone or in a small group, Sosa said.

Kalissa Stump, a senior at the school, got excited about the project and brought it to the attention of Flower Club and Key Club. The Flower Club, which undertakes beautification projects and environmental causes, will enlist scores of members next spring to plant a bunch of flowers and other vegetation after Twisted Tree Landscaping does the heavy lifting.

“I am so excited for the Peace Garden,” said Stump. “It’s going to be the coolest part of Basalt High School. I guarantee it.”

In addition to the cash grants, the project has in-kind service pledges of $28,000 for much of the work. Twisted Tree Landscaping is providing $20,000 of in-kind service. Other donors are Pitkin County Landfill, Heyl, Larson Trucking and Grand Junction Pipe. Sosa is trying to raise the final $10,000 for labor and plants. Donations can be made online at

Sosa started working on the project in March 2015. By April, it will finally start taking shape and should be completed by the end of the school year.

“I never really thought it would be this much work,” he said. It’s been rewarding, he said, because he has learned business concepts and the project has forced him to work with people.

“The project has helped me get out of my shell,” he said.

Bradley said the project will be great for Sosa and the school. “It’s just been a wonderful thing to watch him grow,” she said.

Sosa credits Basalt High School with trying to determine if kids are being bullied and offering them help. “Some schools try to cover it up,” he said.

And for those inevitable times when kids need refuge for whatever reason, they will have the Peace Garden, thanks to Sosa.

Article source:

Garden Tips: Modern holiday traditions come from ancient winter celebrations – Tri

Many Christmas holiday traditions have been adapted from ancient winter celebrations. Not long ago, I was watching a reality TV baking competition. The contestants were tasked with baking yule log cakes. It started me thinking about yule logs.

What is a yule log? For that matter, what is yule? Why is it associated with the winter holidays? Yule or “Jul” is an ancient Northern European and Scandinavian celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day (or longest night) of the year. It is the official beginning of winter for us today.

Jul or Yule celebrated the rebirth of the sun and the return of nature. Part of this winter holiday included a ceremony that involved bringing a whole tree indoors, placing its trunk in the hearth, then lighting the base on fire. As it burned over a 12-day period, the trunk continued to be fed into the hearth.

The Yule log tradition eventually became part of European Christmas traditions, but instead of an entire tree, it was a large log burned for the 12 days of Christmas that start Dec. 25 (Christmas) and end on Jan. 6, which is the Feast of Epiphany for western Christians.

Today, many households do not have large open hearths where they can burn an entire tree or even a large log. Maybe that is why the baking of a “yule log” cake has become a Christmas tradition in parts of Europe. It is made of rolled chocolate sponge cake layered with cream filling and decorated to look like a log. Yum!

As a “tree person,” I have always been intrigued with the tradition of the Christmas tree. Its origins can be traced back to the pagan winter festival of Saturnalia, honoring Saturnus, the god of agriculture. Trees were decorated as part of the festival.

In the Middle Ages, evergreen trees were decorated with apples as part of the Dec. 24 Adam and Eve Feast. In the early 1500s, undecorated evergreen trees were set up in homes in some areas of Germany to celebrate Christmas. That may be why Christmas lore credits Martin Luther as being the first to decorate a Christmas tree with candles in an attempt to recreate the shining of stars in the winter sky.

Historians dispute that Luther began the practice of decorating Christmas trees with lights and ornaments, citing that the first evidence of a decorated tree dates back to 1546, long after Luther’s death. These first decorations consisted of paper flowers, apples, nuts and candies. The Christmas tree tradition did not come to the U.S. until the early 1800s, when Germans migrated here and brought the tradition with them.

Whoever we want to credit with the origins of the decorated Christmas tree, it is amazing that this tradition still persists today. Last year, 26.3 million real Christmas trees were purchased in the U.S. along with 13.9 million artificial ones. Real or fake, trees lit with twinkling lights and decorated with pretty ornaments are certainly a great way to celebrate Christmas and the passing of the winter solstice.

Hurray, the days will be getting longer again! Next year’s gardening season is on the day.

Article source:

Northwest High students’ plan to absorb storm runoff nets state prize, $20000 … – Omaha World

Rain garden reigns in contest

Rain garden reigns in contest

Rachael Burns advanced horticulture class designed and will build an award-winning rain garden on the Northwest campus.

Posted: Monday, December 21, 2015 12:30 am

Northwest High students’ plan to absorb storm runoff nets state prize, $20,000 worth of gadgets

By Erin Duffy / World-Herald staff writer

The Omaha World-Herald

A student-designed plan to absorb storm runoff by building a rain garden on the Northwest High School campus is a winner.

The project, created by students in Rachael Burns’ advanced horticulture class, has been named the state winner in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which rewards schools that solve community problems using science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, skills.

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      Monday, December 21, 2015 12:30 am.

      Article source:

      Save Date: Botanic Garden Design Show

      GLENCOE- The 16th Antiques, Garden Design Show offers access to vendors of highly curated antiques and beautiful objects for the home and garden from around the world, as well as stunning gardens by Craig Bergmann Landscape Design.

      Held on the grounds of the Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the most visited botanic gardens in the United States, the show is the “ribbon cutting” to spring, inspiring attendees to brighten up or re-create their homes and gardens. This year’s show is Friday through Sunday, April 15 to 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

      Designers around the region prize the annual event for its knowledgeable vendors, and often bring clients searching for one-of-a-kind pieces or trying to create a space that expresses their personality, values and interests.

      Stroll and shop through the Antiques to Midcentury Tent and Hall, Garden Gallery Tent, Design Row and Market Courtyards. The show features more than 90 exhibitors of garden antiques, antiques, midcentury modern décor, art, home design, jewelry, garden wares and horticulture from around the United States and Europe.

      Be the first to experience the Antiques, Garden Design Show as well as priority shopping and elegant fare at the Preview Evening on Thursday, April 14. Hours are from 6 to 10 p.m. Preview tickets begin at $250 and are available online at or by phone at (847) 835-6958. Valet parking is complimentary for the Preview Evening only.

      Stunning Indoor Gardens

      Craig Bergmann Landscape Design has created beautiful indoor gardens in classic shades of blue and white with various accent colors. The gardens incorporate classical and modern design elements from Bergmann’s private collection, as well as items discovered in storage at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

      Guests entering the Antiques to Midcentury Tent on the Esplanade will be wowed by a fanciful front porch garden with a lattice wall of living ivy, 9-foot marbleized columns sprouting yellow forsythia branches, an Asian ceramic pot collection and a midcentury white iron bench—accented by yellow cytisus in flaking painted urns, and beds of blue and white nemesia. The tent’s middle garden features a boat filled with coral diascia, a blue pansy ‘lake’ and a “shore” planted with aquatic flowering and grassy plants, as well as mossy wood. At the back of the tent are beds of pink irisene, midnight blue ‘Crystal Palace’ Lobelia, and pink New Guinea impatiens, with architectural elements including white rustic urns of ‘Brite Blue’ lobelia, pillars of purple delphinium star, and diamond-patterned lattice fencing.

      The entry garden to the Garden Gallery Tent in the Krasberg Rose Garden features a galvanized metal wall with a black paper backdrop and racks of planters filled with heliotrope, angelonia and lavender. Blue ceramic jars of violet-purple cardoon, silver dichondra in 24-inch drain tiles, and lavender plectranthus in planters complete the dramatic look. In the back garden, an 8-foot terra cotta espalier is set in front of a striped blue-and-white wall, with planted terra cotta pot towers, stacked pots, and wheelbarrows of orange diascia in the foreground.

      Lectures and Book Signings

      The show’s honorary chair and keynote speaker, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, will speak on Friday morning, April 15. He is an international designer widely known for his broad range of styles and eclectic, yet sophisticated and inviting interiors. Bullard consistently has been named as one of the world’s top 100 interior designers by Architectural Digest, is featured permanently in Elle Décor’s A-List, and was named one of the top 25 designers by Hollywood Reporter.

      Though recognized in the United States mainly as one of Bravo TV’s Million Dollar Decorators, Bullard’s newest TV show, “Hollywood Me,” which airs in the United Kingdom, recently won the National Reality TV Awards for Best Self-Improvement/Makeover Show. His work has appeared in more than 4,000 publications worldwide, and his book Live, Love Decorate has given a glimpse into his glamorous world of dramatic spaces and exquisite detail. Bullard also is known for his line of products, including furniture, fabric, flooring, fragrances, fashion and jewelry.

      Former Winnetka resident Timothy Whealon, a specialist in high-end interior design with a focus on fine and decorative arts, will give a presentation on Friday afternoon. His design projects, while rooted in classicism, also have a fresh twenty-first century eye that makes them both modern and timeless. His New York firm, Timothy Whealon Interiors, is enhanced by both his extensive knowledge of the international art and antiques market, and by his team of skilled artists and craftsman who adhere to Whealon’s commitment to quality and attention to detail. His interiors have been featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Veranda, House and Garden, Architectural Digest, the New York Times, and many more publications and books.

      Presenting on Saturday morning is chef and gardener Jess Ross, who manages the Farmstead School at Blackberry Farm in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee. Jeff Ross grew up in Knoxville with his mother and grandmothers who raised many flowers and vegetables, and a great-grandfather who was a landscape architect. He has worked in propagation, nursery management, garden design and restoration of period and historic gardens. His love for history colors his interest in the lore of the Appalachian region and its plant life. Additionally, cooking is one of his greatest passions, and is what drives him as a grower of organic herbs and vegetables.

      Each lecture will be followed by a book signing. Lecture fees apply.

      Tickets Available in February

      Tickets to the Antiques, Garden Design Show and lectures can be purchased online or at the Visitor Center beginning in February. All show tickets are three-day passes. If purchased on or before April 14, tickets are $20; after April 14, tickets are $22. Garden members receive $2 off each ticket price. Children under age 16 are free with an adult. For safety reasons, strollers are not permitted in the Show. Visit the website for information on parking fees.

      Submitted by the Chicago Botanic Garden

      Article source:

      Wotton-under-Edge garden designer selected to exhibit unique unique plans at …

      A HORTICULTURAL designer from Wotton-under-Edge has been selected to exhibit an innovative noise-reducing garden at a Spring festival.

      Pippa Shennan, of Wotton-under-Edge, was selected against stiff competition to design and exhibit one of the Festival Gardens at next year’s Royal Horticultural Society Malvern Spring Festival.

      The Festival Garden theme chosen for the 2016 festival is ‘Hidden Gems’ and Pippa drew from personal experience to create her unique design.

      Her garden, entitled ‘A private refuge – a hidden gem’, is believed to be the first to have been designed specifically to cut out external noise through the use of acoustic fencing and a careful choice of water features, plants and trees.

      She said: “As I have a problem with external noise and privacy in my own garden I decided to design something that addresses these issues.

      “It is a common problem, particularly in towns and cities, so hopefully my design and the ideas contained in it will be something from which others can benefit.

      “The design and building of a show garden is an expensive business so I am looking for sponsors who might have an interest in helping me to achieve my aim”.

      Pippa added to her degree in Agricultural Botany by achieving a pass with distinction in Garden Design only three years ago and then setting up a consultancy, Earthmark Garden Design.

      Recently she has also gained a diploma in Garden Design, Planting Design and Horticulture and become an accredited partner of Wildflower Turf Limited with specialist knowledge of designing, installing and maintaining wildflower environments.

      Pippa is also a keen gardener and artist; regularly exhibiting with both the Royal Watercolour Society and the Society of Botanical Artists in London.

      Anyone interested in sponsoring her garden can email Pippa at

      RHS Malvern Spring Festival has made a name for itself as a showcase for emerging talent in the Show Gardens, Festival Gardens and School Gardens.

      2015 saw two Show Gardens and two Festival Gardens scoop coveted RHS Gold Medals.

      Article source:

      ‘Drebatizing’ Olympia – One Property at a Time

      drebick property management
      ‘The Wedge’ was created in 2012 near the courthouse campus on Evergreen Park Drive SW.

      Thomas Edison once said, “the three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are hard work, stick-to-itiveness, and common sense.” For more almost five decades, John Drebick and his family have embodied Edison’s words while making Olympia a better place to live, work, and shop.

      According to the Harvard Business School, “family firms account for two thirds of all businesses around the world.” Drebick, who moved into a two-bedroom home in 1957, entered into the real estate industry in title insurance and land surveying. In 1967, he added real estate sales to his resume.

      drebick property management
      When not working on his properties, John enjoys salmon fishing.

      Four years later, he opened The Drebick Company in downtown Olympia specializing in residential properties. He then borrowed money from his parents to purchase his first office building for The Drebick Company. John and his wife, Glenda, handled residential sales, property management and commercial real estate brokering.

      When times got tough in the 1980s, Glenda took investment services work with Shurgard Mini Storage. When the economy improved, she used her professional skills to join John as an owner of Drebick Investments, LLC. She is a long-time member of the Zonta Club of Olympia where she edits ‘The Inkling,’ their newsletter. John is a member of the Finance, Investment, and Youth Services committees for the Olympia Kiwanis and is quite active in the holiday poinsettia sale.

      Leaving the residential real estate business in 1988, they focused exclusively on property management and operations of buildings they owned. From 1985-2000, Drebick Investments, LLC developed and built commercial buildings that were later leased to state agencies and private businesses. Of their four adult children, three are still local and son Stuart runs Adroit Contractors Inc. from an office he built and shares with his dad.

      drebick property management
      ‘The Wedge’ was created in 2012 near the courthouse campus on Evergreen Park Drive SW.

      Their West Olympia location is dubbed, ‘The Wedge,’ which was created in 2012 near the courthouse campus on Evergreen Park Drive SW. Since settling in to these custom-built offices, John Drebick and his team have sold off their developed properties and invested in others across our region. Available space now includes the downtown Les Schwab location, which will be redeveloped, as well as four office buildings near The Wedge, which are Drebatized into “The Quad Office Park” and eight acres of light industrial land in Hawks Prairie.

      Once a new property is acquired, it is ‘Drebatized’ for maximum appeal quality and value. This often includes updating paint, roof, and parking needs, adding natural stone to structure fronts and breezeways, and new landscaping throughout the area. This complete make-over updates older structures and vastly improves curb appeal. For leasing information on any of these established properties, contact Luke Kravitz of Kidder Mathews.

      John laughs that the question he’s asked the most is, “Why aren’t you retired yet?” But why settle down to his fishing, vintage cars, and motor home travel when he’s still “interested in continuing to own properties to Drebatize?”

      drebick property management
      From 1985-2000, Drebick Investments, LLC developed and built commercial buildings that were later leased to state agencies and private businesses.

      His advice to property owners is simple: there is plenty of empty office space in Olympia, but the ones being leased are those being updated. Why let an outdated commercial building sit vacant when a round of Drebatizing can get it filled up and provide income?

      “At the end of the day, I know who I am. I’m a real estate guy,” says John. “Our door is always open.” He encourages potential renters to contact him directly with development ideas for any of his holdings. By partnering with Stuart’s commercial, retail, and industrial contracting business, they can turn something as common as a tire shop into the condo, boutique, or restaurant of your dreams.

      Contact John and his team by visiting The Wedge at 1001 S. Evergreen Park Dr SW, calling 360-943-4340, or emailing With more than 50 years experience, he’s capable, confident, and always has a story to share.

      Article source:

      Gorilla Dumpster Bag charts a new course for waste disposal

      Chris Hansen’s and Steve Faacks’s innovation: an ultra-strong, flexible, 100 percent recyclable orange container that’s delivered to your home or business the same day it’s ordered.

      The bags are built to handle up to three tons of junk.

      “That’s unheard-of in this industry,” Hansen says of the delivery time, which in some cases is as fast as an hour after an order. “With others, you could be looking at three weeks.”

      When the units are full, Hansen’s and Faacks’s new company, Gorilla Dumpster Bag, will pick them up and dispose of the contents with equal time-managed speed and efficiency — all at a price that Hansen says is about “10 to 50 percent cheaper” than steel dumpsters.

      There are no hidden fees either. It’s all flat-rate for unlimited-time usage, ranging from $99 to $169 per bag, depending on the disposal weight.

      “Nobody’s ever made anything like this before,” Hansen, a longtime waste-management professional, says in an interview between Hudson-area deliveries and pick-ups last week.

      “It is the biggest, toughest and strongest dumpster bag anywhere in the U.S. It won’t tear or rip, and it has a three-strap system so the weight is spread throughout the bag when we pick it up. … This bag is a rock star.”

      He adds of the low-sided bags’ on-site assembly time: “I can do it in about a minute. We’re always trying to beat that. One time, I did it in 50 seconds.”

      According to the Gorilla Dumpster Bag website —  — they’re perfect for “home renovation projects, construction projects, roofing projects, garage cleanouts, move-ins/move-outs, landscaping projects or yard cleanup projects.”

      They’ve even been used for local pet-food drives, Hansen says.

      A sample of all the items that can be handled:  bathtubs and toilets; paneling and siding; windows; sinks; plaster and drywall; cabinets; doors; roofing shingles; flooring; mattresses; asphalt; furniture; insulation; carpet; concrete; bricks and rocks — and much more.

      “The capacity is pretty much endless,” Hansen adds. “If a customer thinks they’ll need more than one bag, we can leave them extras; and if they don’t need them, we’ll pick them up when the customer is finished. We can also drop off a new bag when we pick up the first one.”

      The only things that Gorilla Dumpster bags can’t accommodate: environmentally sensitive and health-related items like household garbage and food; paints, solvents, oil and gasoline; tires; batteries; appliances and medical waste. A full list is on the website.

      Prize winner

      Sound too good to be true?

      Not to the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation, which awarded Gorilla Dumpster Bag the top prize in its 2015 “Idea Challenge” entrepreneurship competition earlier this month.

      Hansen’s and Faacks’s company beat more than 100 other entrants in this year’s Idea Challenge, a grueling series of presentations before a panel of experts that  Hansen compares to the popular “Shark Tank” TV show.

      “We felt very confident when we won because there was a lot of good competition there,” Hansen says.

      “We’re just two guys who had a dream and went for it. It’s been a lot of work. It’s been pretty much 24/7, but we love it. Maybe that’s the gift when it’s your dream and you’re trying to make it come true yourself.”

      After two years of design and development – and near-constant two-man coffee-shop brainstorming — Gorilla Dumpster Bag launched in Hudson in May. Hansen handles local service, while Faacks – pronounced “Fox” — concentrates on the company’s Eau Claire territory.

      The Hudson area has proven to be particularly receptive, Hansen says — about 300 Gorilla Dumpster bags have been ordered locally already.

      “For whatever reason, people have warmed up to our bags a little quicker here, right out of the gate,” says Hansen, a New Richmond native whose kids — Andrew, 16, and 11-year-old daughter Savannah — attend local schools.

      “Maybe a lot of people are doing remodeling here — our bag is perfect for that. … Maybe more people here look at our bag and say, ‘I know what I could use that for.’”

      He adds: “A lot of our calls are from women, and a lot are from parents with young families. Maybe people here are able to wrap their minds around the concept a little bit better. Maybe they’re saying to themselves, ‘I don’t want a big, ugly steel dumpster in my yard.’”

      The local reception has been so positive that Faacks and Hansen think Hudson could be Gorilla Dumpster Bag’s base for future expansion into the rest of the Twin Cities metro area and beyond.

      “We’ll see, though. Right now, it’s one thing at a time for us,” Hansen says.

      “But we do feel like we got a great start here in our first year, and we’re feeling like we can build on that. We’d like to go across the river at some point, though. This would be a great, central location for that.”

      Gorilla Dumpster Bag’s patent application is pending.

      Turning points

      Faacks, a veteran business pro with about three years’ recent waste-industry experience, became friends with Hansen when both worked in the Eau Claire area.

      “We ran in the same circles, and we would run into each other, so we started talking in a Caribou Coffee about all sorts of ideas,” Hansen recalls.

      “The bag was Steve’s idea; it was his brainchild. He’s got a great business mind, and he’s very meticulous and precise, where I’m pretty cool, calm and collected, and kind of a bulldog,” Hansen adds.

      “So we started to talk about this. There was one time when the ideas were coming, and all of a sudden, the floodgates opened.”

      Two years of development followed, covering everything from the container’s color and the strap design to its dimensions and composition, and the company’s lift and drop-off/pick-up systems.

      “We tested more than 30-plus prototypes and made adjustments after each one. We finally settled on the bag we use now. As a concept, it’s bullet-proof. We’ve had up to three tons in it, and it works great.”

      One of the first Hudson start-up steps was meetings with local licensing and permitting officials and the City Council, along with back-and-forth with the state departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, and other agencies.

      “We really learned a lot from starting here. Everybody was really helpful,” Hansen says.

      Then came promotion, including handing out fliers and appearing at Hudson Booster Days and other local events.

      “We’ve probably done eight or so parades. We have a trailer, and we built a stand to hold the bag up on it so it looks like it would on a customer’s property,” Hansen explains.

      “For Booster Days, Steve dressed up in a gorilla suit and handed out candy — and all the kids just loved it. It was really a good way to get the word out for people who say, ‘We’ve seen those orange bags here. What are they?’ The word of mouth here has really been great.”

      At first, Hansen and Faacks planned to keep their day jobs while Gorilla Dumpster Bag gathered steam, but they decided fairly early on that it had to be a 100-percent commitment.

      “As we talked more and read more, we thought, ‘Do we want this to be our part-time job, or do we want this to be our dream?’” Hansen remembers.

      “It was kind of scary to all of a sudden go from a steady salary to both of us putting all of our faith into ourselves and one other person. So when we first did it, our hearts kind of stopped beating, just for a second.

      “But then we thought, ‘This is going to work; it’s gotta work’ — and that’s what I call good pressure. So we’re both all-in, and there’s no turning back. Now when we look back, I don’t know if we could have done anything different.”

      For more information, go to the Gorilla Dumpster Bag website or call 1-844-244-2247. The company also has a page on Facebook. 

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      For landscapers, winter brings a different kind of tree trimming

      Crews with Gage Tree Service spend Alaska’s warmer months lopping off branches and taking down rotted trunks, but come autumn, tree-trimming takes on a more festive meaning.

      As long days give way to long nights, Gage and other landscaping businesses morph into decorating companies, serving customers whose lofty visions for winter lighting might include a second-story roofline or that 50-foot spruce in the front yard.  

      “We are busy putting up lights right until Christmas Eve and then doing takedowns from January to March,” said office manager Honna Imm.

      By Halloween each year, Gage has lit the large blue spruce in Bobbie Porter’s yard from trunk to top in white lights. Porter and her husband used to wrap the tree with lights themselves, but the spruce has grown and lining the roof has become tradition.

      “We would never be able to put them on the house because we’d need huge ladders and have to walk on the roof,” Porter said. 

      Much of the holiday lighting spirit in Anchorage can be traced to former mayor Rick Mystrom, who urged citizens in the late 1990s to help turn Anchorage into a “City of Lights and Flowers.”

      Larry Cash, president and CEO of RIM Architects, said he’s had horticulture company Green Connection put off-white lights on his over-60-foot spruce for more than a decade. The tree is the showpiece of the winter landscaping at his Turnagain home. 

      “Off-white. Always. That’s my aesthetic,” Cash said. “You can start them early and leave them up through mid-March without them being Christmas lights specifically, and that ties back to the City of Lights, which encouraged white lights.” 

      Cash has more or less stuck to the original City of Lights schedule from mid-October to mid-March. The LED lights are on a solar timer and stay on the tree year-round. The current strings have lasted about five years.

      Mike Post, owner of Tall Trees, said white, neutral lighting is by far the most popular choice, because many homeowners keep their lights up well beyond the holiday season. 

      “That way they can turn them on in September or October and then run them all winter,” Post said.

      Light installations keep revenue for landscaping companies higher than it would otherwise be during the colder months.

      “It’s a way to keep cashflow positive in the winter when usually companies like us have more challenges with finances,” said Jacob Bishop, owner of Be Happy Home Maintenance, which also provides handyman, landscaping, lawn care and snowplowing services.

      “If we have a low-snow year, we still have the Christmas lights,” he said.

      Tall Trees handles Christmas tree recycling for the whole municipality of Anchorage. Still, the company downsizes its workforce from December through March. The holiday lighting service, started in 2011, allows Post to use his existing equipment and keep more employees on year-round. 

      “Most of the winter, the tree removal work is going to involve a hazard or emergency — heavy snows or winds — trees hitting houses or rubbing on houses,” Post said. “It’s pretty slow.”  

      Tall Trees has a distributorship through Brite Ideas Decorating, a nationwide lighting company. Lighting choices include big snowflakes, candy canes, rain lights and stars. The minimum installation is $400-$500 and the company averages somewhere between $800 and $1,000 per job.    

      The average residential job for Gage is about $1,100, with the minimum install priced at $750. Maintenance, removal and storage is included in the cost and typically includes roof lighting and additional features such as shrubs, wreaths or windows. If even one bulb burns out, the company will show up to repair it. Gage is a franchisee of national lighting company Christmas Decor

      Although it isn’t a cheap service, customers say it’s worth paying for to satisfy holiday lighting obsessions and, in some cases, obligations.

      Porter said she doesn’t have her lights taken down and trucked away until the last Iditarod musher crosses the finish line in Nome.

      “Sometimes my husband will say, ‘Don’t you think it’s time?’ And I say, ‘Nope. we have to wait for that last musher.'”

      Cash said his family enjoys the lights — as do others living on his street.

      “Once you get started, you’re noticed if you don’t continue,” Cash said. “There were a couple years we were late getting it going and we got some comments from neighbors asking what happened.”

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