CALLING ALL CARPENTERS
Wed Jun 19, 2013
At SMC we do many different things. People with many different skills and backgrounds do them: architects, engineers, project managers, sales people, financial people, administrators, solar installers, cabinetmakers, etc.
And then there are carpenters. We have more carpenters than any other type – about a third of the people who work here. Gradually, some of our long-time carpenters are retiring. We need to hire new carpenters.
But we think differently about carpenters than most do. First of all, when we hire a carpenter, we’re not just hiring a carpenter – we are hiring a future owner, someone we imagine will stay here and with whom we will share ownership in five years.
We’re not looking for someone who’s just looking for a job. We’re looking for someone who is passionate about carpentry, who wants to become an important part of an organization, who aspires to become a construction superintendent in the future, and who wants to become a member of a great team.
“Team” is the operative word here. The job has different requirements than in the past. In the old days (and the not-so-old days, like when I started out) things were simpler than they are today. Training (whether formal or not) was essential, and still is, of course. The more the better. But beyond that, all you really needed back then was a basic set of tools and a pick-up truck (usually with a level on the gun rack and a dog in the rear).
You still need tools and a pick-up, but it’s also about collaboration, co-operation, and information-sharing. Good communication and management skills are important. Computer literacy is necessary. Adaptability and constant learning are critical, because building is changing rapidly as new materials become available, performance standards rise, and building scientists make new discoveries.
Recently our newest and youngest carpenter wrote on his annual self-evaluation (in response to the question “Do you have suggestions for improvements?”):
“Just keep up the communication and teamwork.”
Nice thing to hear from a guy who’s barely 21. He also said, “A wise carpenter once told me that ‘one fuck-up sets you back six ‘attaboys’ “.
It’s not so easy these days to find young people like that, who love carpentry, who are articulate, who have a well-rounded set of skills and capacities, and who want to make a career out of it. But they’re out there. Why? Because it’s rewarding work – hard as it is – and it’s truly a calling, and some still recognize what a noble calling it is.
We’ve found them before and we’ll find them again. Hopefully soon, because we’re looking right now.
Here’s an ad that we recently placed in the local newspapers and in many online locations, both local and not. If you think of anyone who might fit the bill, send them our way, okay?
VICTORY AT HAND
Thu May 02, 2013
Spring has sprung. It’s a good time for good news.
When Paul Gilding’s book The Great Disruption was published in 2011 it had a profound impact on me. In September of that year I wrote that it was, for me, the most accessible and full-bodied treatment to date of the effects of climate change on our planet, our economies, our lives.
Still is – although Gus Speth’s superb new book America the Possible is a knock-out that in many ways expands the vision further.
Gilding has a blog called “The Cockatoo Chronicles.” It has been inactive for some months, but recently he made up for lost time when he posted a 2500 word essay that argues for a new reality: the economy is now aligned with the environment and there is evidence that we can – and will – win the climate change battle.
That’s a big thing to say.
Continue reading »
OUR FRIEND TONY LEWIS
Mon Apr 01, 2013
Anthony Lewis died last week.
Tony and his wife Margie have been long-time SMC clients and great friends – to the company and a number of us within it.
Tony was a New York Times columnist for three decades who won two Pulitzer prizes. The Times said after his death that he “transformed coverage of the supreme court.” But Eric Alterman of The Nation focused on “the remarkable three-decade career that followed his Supreme Court coverage: the period, beginning in 1969, when Lewis established himself as the bravest and most eloquent columnist of the Vietnam and post-Vietnam eras.”
“Nobody,”said Alterman, “had ever written anything in the paper of record the way Lewis did. The Vietnam War, he thundered, was ‘a crime against humanity.’ He continued to speak, over the coming decades, as perhaps the most prominent of establishment voices for the antiwar, human rights and civil rights movements. Indeed, he lit up his biweekly corner of the Times op-ed page with the kind of political passion that is typically roped off in Washington at marches and rallies.” Continue reading »
FROM LANDFILL TO POWER PLANT
Wed Mar 20, 2013
Mostly, capped landfills remind me of the mausoleums of a consumer society. For most of a century we dumped our solid waste onto these Mt Trashmores and mixed up a brew of concentrated toxins which seeped into the surrounding areas and often polluted (and still do) our water. So we learned to treat our waste as a resource, close the landfills, cap them, and leave them idle. We’re still very primitive about this, but progress is steady.
There’s not much you can do on a capped landfill because it’s essential that we not disturb the protective rubber liner that is usually only 12-18” below the grass that covers it.
But there are some uses. Most are relatively passive: cultivation of hay, green space, wildlife habitat, and biking/walking/running trails. Some are more active: golf courses, baseball fields, and soccer fields.
Continue reading »