In 1980, when Hurricane Bob ripped through Martha’s Vineyard, it tore down a big hickory tree alongside Humphrey’s Bakery in West Tisbury. We took the butt log, hauled it to our yard, and milled it into planks. Until a few months ago they sat on stickers somewhere deep in our wood storage building waiting for my son Pinto to make a rocking chair for me and my wife Chris.
South Mountain Company
I was meeting with some clients with whom we’ve had a long, ongoing relationship (designed and built their house, then an addition and a barn/garage, maintained both through the years) to review a just-completed inspection report. The house is 20 years old so we had produced a document outlining the major maintenance to come and predicting when various measures might make sense to do.
The house needs a new boiler, so it’s a good time to think hard about the best approach to heating and cooling for the next 20. It needs a new roof so it’s the one chance they’ll get (for decades) to add insulation under the roofing. Is it worth it? Is now the time to add a solar electric system to stabilize long-term energy costs? A detailed energy evaluation will determine the answers to these and other questions.
I’m still excited about the budding alliance between the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Mondragon Cooperatives – and the general awakening consciousness about worker co-operatives and co-operative business in general that I wrote about last month.
And there’s more.
The third annual Martha’s Vineyard Living Local and Harvest Festival just ended. It began with a Friday night forum called Opportunities and Challenges – a Panel Discussion with Next Generation Island Leaders.
Having just turned 60, I am acutely aware of the role of young people (in their 20’s and 30’s) in my work life and civic life. At work they are a constant theme and a growing force. There is a great transition in process at South Mountain Company – from first generation leadership to the next. It’s a long, gradual journey, sometimes a bit frightening but mostly thrilling, and it’s gathering steam.
One more post (which might become two) about employee ownership and workplace democracy before I veer off toward some related topics. . . .
Despite the Obama administration’s recent shift in emphasis from homeownership to rental housing (which I will discuss in detail in a future post), homeownership is at the very heart of the American dream. Owning our work, and finding meaning there, seems as essential to a good life as owning our homes. But although many of us own homes, far fewer own our work.
At the recent conference of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center (VEOC) in Burlington, VEOC board president Paul Millman asked an important question to the attendees, who represented some of the many remarkably progressive companies in the Green Mountain State. “Are we different enough?” he wondered.
Good question. I wonder about that often when I think about South Mountain. Are we promoting a system that would, if widespread, create fundamental change in our broken economic system? Or are we just avoiding one avalanche chute by traversing to another with a slightly more gradual incline?
Hard to say.