Browsing Tag

Trees

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: How Do Trees Keep in Touch?

August 22, 2016

42282_uk082216Outside of fantasy novels, trees don’t speak or move under their own power. But despite their apparent silence, they do communicate. Researchers have found that trees in North American forests exchange information via a natural network of mycorrhizal connections—a symbiotic system of roots and fungus. Using this organic internet, mature “mother” trees can keep track of their nearby offspring and give them more room and resources. Even trees of different species have been observed using the mycorrhizal network to share sugars if the recipient tree can’t photosynthesize enough nutrients. And a tree can warn others in its network when it’s under attack from pests, giving the unaffected trees more time to produce defensive enzymes. I guess the Motown hit was called “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” because “I Heard it Through the Symbiotic Underground Mycorrhizal Network” just didn’t have the same ring to it.

Grove Tree Ring Print | $40-100

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Michale Dancer

August 5, 2015

UncommonGoods is excited to unveil what we’re proud to call the Uncommon Collection – an assortment of some of our very favorite offerings that fully embody our core values. Each week we introduce new artists in our This Just In-spiration series, but we’re happy to give a special introduction for one of the artists helping us grow this collection of truly uncommon designs.

In meeting our five key standards, all designs featured in the collection are original and demonstrate exceptional ingenuity, while makers adhere to responsible business practices and leave a minimal footprint on our environment. What makes an artist’s design special and motivates them to have a positive impact on the world is certainly worth sharing. Meet Michale Dancer, the maker behind the new Gilded Branches Jewelry Tree, exclusively at UncommonGoods.

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When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
My Father was an apartment building landlord, and he brought floor plans home when I was a young child. I started walking through the spaces and learned to create my own apartment designs. I was young but it stayed with me, so I when I had a chance to study, my first love was design and architecture.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
That professional buyers were interested in my creations, enough to pay for them.

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What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I meet with my team and create a production list that needs to be accomplished that day. Our team divides and manufactures products depending on which department will be in production. Each department has their skill set (i.e. harvesting, plating, manufacturing Still Life ornaments, jewelry, nightlights, and various custom creations). I check my office for emails and calls from clients. At the end of day, we take 15 minutes for meditation to leave calm and relaxed. It really works!

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near?
I have a collection of beautiful objects found on my hikes, such as skeletonized leaves, branches, pods, shells, pine cones, acorns, etc.

Did anything in particular inspire your design?
I was hiking one day when I saw a leaf decaying, and had noticed the delicate lacy structure of the leaf. Nature is incredibly beautiful, and at the same time, ephemeral, and wouldn’t last. I wanted to bring this beauty to people and found a technique that would allow me to do so.

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Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?
Wow, a real gold leaf!

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
Nature is the best designer I know and therefore, my motivator. I’m self- motivated in that I can’t stop designing. My mind is always thinking of how to bring nature indoors to show people it’s true beauty.

Why is sustainability important to you?
We all live on this wonderful planet, and obviously it has become polluted from all our dirty manufacturing processes. I appreciate the beauty of nature in it’s true form, so why not create items that are made directly from nature. If we can show people how to use sustainable products, perhaps we can help our planet heal.

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In what ways does your design reflect social and environmental best interests?
Everyone that owns a Still Life product understands it comes directly from the earth. We want people to learn that we don’t have to make beautiful décor from plastics and other methods that continue to pollute our planet.

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The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Claire Whitehead

June 11, 2015

Claire Whitehead, UncommonGoods User Experience Design Manager

My hometown is…
Asheville, North Carolina

I’m inspired by…
People with strong self-discipline, Vince Carter’s performance in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and pajamas.

If I could become an expert on one thing that I’m not already, it would be…
Playing Led Zeppelin on the mountain dulcimer like this guy.

An uncommon fact about me…
I’m named after my great grandfather Clair, who invented a pregnancy test in 1928 that led to the development of those commonly used today.

The cheesiest thing I’ve ever loved is/was…
Kraft Singles.

My favorite place to go in New York City is…
The taco truck across the street from my apartment.

When I was little, I dreamed of…
Living in the woods. Preferably inside a giant tree like Sam in the book My Side of the Mountain.

I’m stubborn about…
Correct spelling.

Would you rather…be bored beyond belief for a month straight, or over-stimulated to the point of exhaustion for a month?
I’d rather be bored beyond belief. I love sleeping more than almost anything and am a recovering homebody with frequent relapses.

The Uncommon Life

Checking In With American Forests

April 30, 2012

I asked our friends at American Forest last month what they’d been able to do with our Better to Give donations over the past year. Turns out they’ve planted more than 59,000 trees across the US. Isn’t that incredible? And it’s all because of you. Each time you pick American Forests at checkout, we donate $1 to their tree-planting programs. Thanks for your loyal support!

Since 2010, UncommonGoods has helped support the planting of more than 59,000 trees through American Forests’ Global ReLeaf® program. This partnership has planted trees in critically important locations that span across 6 states and 9 separate ecosystem restoration projects. American Forests is proud to have planted the following trees on behalf of UncommonGoods and all of their respective customers and employees.

Name: Spotted Owl Habitat Restoration in Angeles National Forest– 210 Trees
State: CA
American Forests is partnering with the USDA Forest Service to replant areas of Angeles National Forest that have been damaged by wildfires. It will take three years to replant all of the damaged areas. In 2011 project work will include growing seedlings, preparing the site, and planting and monitoring. This project will work to restore the critical habitat for the California Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) and other threatened, endangered, or sensitive plant and animal species. The Spotted Owl’s primary habitat is forest areas that include Douglas fir.


The wildfires destroyed 10% of that habitat within Angeles National Forest. This project will also protect the local ecosystem. The site is part of the watershed at the headwaters of Los Angeles River. Soil erosion has negative effects on aquatic species in the Los Angeles River so the newly planted trees will prevent soil in and around the planting site from eroding into the river. The planting will also help prevent future wildfires by restoring the site with native tree species before the land can be taken over by non-native grasses.

Name: Poe Cabin Fire Restoration – 22,691 Trees
State: ID
American Forests is teaming up with the USDA Forest Service to replant areas of the Nez Perce National Forest that were damaged by wildfires. Planting trees at this site offers numerous benefits, including a decrease in soil erosion which will lessen the amount of sedimentation being deposited into the area’s water sources. This in turn will help to protect anadromous, fish that live mostly in the ocean but breed in fresh water, fisheries located along the Snake River. Deer and wild turkeys will also benefit from this project. Reforesting the area will provide these species with places to hide and keep warm during the winter months. Part of the reforestation project encompasses the Pittsburg Landing Road, which allows access to the Snake River. The river provides a host of recreational activities and is a popular tourist location. This project will plant tree species, including the severely threatened whitebark pine, a species found in the western US and Canada that is threatened by wildfires, mountain bark beetles, and blister rust. American Forests is sponsoring various projects to reforest white bark pine this year.

Name: Kraft Springs Fire Rehabilitation – 8,470 Trees
State: MT
American Forests is partnering with the USDA Forest Service to reforest areas within the Custer National Forest. This area has been damaged by multiple wildfires, occurring in 1998 and 2002. The area continues to see an increase in wildfires due in part to a changing climate which has created warmer and dryer conditions. These conditions have allowed wildfires to burn with previously uncharacteristic severity. As a result of the wildfires, forested habitat has been reduced by 69 percent. Reforesting this area with ponderosa pine will increase habitat and food supply for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, and goshawk.

Name: The Chiginagak Volcano Valley, Alaska Native Tree Restoration Project — 6,613 Trees
State: AK
The Chiginagak Volcano Valley in the Alaskan Peninsula was damaged by a lahar flow that greatly decreased the wildlife population and destroyed much of the foliage. The lahar flow also reached creeks, contaminating them with sulfuric acid. The purpose of this project is to restore the native habitat and protect the water by replanting 350,000 trees.

The trees to be planted are Alders, Poplars, Willows, and dwarf conifers to ensure native species diversity. This project also benefits the area economically. The rivers and streams damaged by the lahar flow feed into Bristol Bay, which supports a large fishing industry. Repairing the ecosystem will bring back fish into these streams and ultimately into Bristol Bay.

Name: Showerbath Wildfire Reforestation — 2,000 Trees
State: ID
Approximately half of the planting site was harvested in the early 1970s and unsuccessfully replanted with Douglas-fir Seedlings. The mortality of that planting was very high because of the harsh conditions created when most of the overstory was harvested. This project will plant 63,000 Douglas-fir and Lodgepole pines over 210 acres to continue to protect many species of wildlife, improve watershed conditions, and to keep the Salmon-Challis National Forest enjoyable for recreational use.

Name: 2010 Kirtland’s Warbler Habitat Creation — 5,500 Trees
State: MI
This reforestation project in the Huron Manistee National Forest is designed to plant 402,000 trees over 369 acres with the state of Michigan and the US Forest Service in order to provide habitat restoration for the Kirtland’s Warbler. The Kirtland’s Warbler is an endangered species song bird which requires both the particular Jack Pine specie to nest in and scattered openings of land to fulfill their habitat needs. The trees themselves must be in the range of 4-15 years old for the Kirtland’s Warbler to nest in, making the effect of this project not fully seen until down the road. These specific conditions that the Kirtland’s Warbler requires will be put in place to combat the ever increasing encroachment of human inhabitation on the bird’s habitat. The trees for this project will be planted in the spring of 2010 by local contractors.

Name: Cave Gulch & Maudlow-Toston Fire Rehabilitation — 7,500 Trees
State: MT
This project will reforest an area of the Helena National Forest that was burned in the 2000 Cave Gulch and Mauldow-Toston fires. Roughly 40,000 acres of National Forest Lands’ were burned by these fires located in the Big Belt Mountains. Over 400 acres of this land will be planted on with 130,000 Douglas-fir and Lodgepole pines. This project hopes to improve the local watersheds, which contain critical fish-bearing streams that are also important to the other wildlife in the ecosystem that count on these fish for food.

Name: WildEarth Guardians 2010 New Mexico Riparian Restoration — 200 Trees
State: NM
WildEarth Guardians aims to plant over 65,000 native shrubs and trees across four distinct watershed located in total throughout the state of New Mexico. These four project areas are located along the Santa Fe River, Bluewater Creek, La Jencia Creek, and the Rio Puerco. All of these watercourses have seen intense historic disturbance regimes, including domestic and wild ungulate overgrazing and browsing, destabilized stream channels and banks, non-native shrub and tree establishment, extreme temperature loading and fluctuations, and impacts of off-highway vehicles. These impacts have resulted in degraded stream and riparian area functionality. The goal of this project is to restore function to the area by undertaking a variety of proven restoration measures, including non-native species removal, stream channel and bank stabilization, native species reforestation, domestic and wild ungulate control, and prohibiting off-highway vehicle access.

Name: Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge — 5,859 Trees
State: TX
American Forests continued the partnership with the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge for the 14th consecutive year by supporting the on-going reforestation of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. This area is one of the most biologically diverse regions in all of North America and is also one of the poorest, though fastest growing, regions in the United States. The reforestation of this corridor benefits the unique wildlife of this subtropical region, including endangered species such as the ocelot and jaguarondi. More than 490 species of birds and about 40 percent of all North American butterfly species (300+ species) live in this four-county project area. This project helped maintain a bountiful and biologically diverse land as a key component to the area’s ecotourism industry.

The Uncommon Life

A Million Trees

October 28, 2011

UncommonGoods joined up with Million Trees NYC again this week to plant trees in Marine Bay Park.

Here’s Luis, posing with his very own sapling:

According to our HR assistant Melanie, the UncommonGoods team helped plant 1,400 trees!

Gift Guides

How does your garden grow?

January 5, 2011

So how many of you have bought a grow your own gift, like this Bonsai Forest, for yourself or a friend?

Just last week, Lauren sent me a pic of an UncommonGoods orchid she sent to her grandmother as a gift. Her grandmother has kept it growing three whole years!

Let us know how your plants are growing. And if your plant needs a little help recovering from the holidays (anyone else forget to water their houseplants before leaving on vacation?), don’t hesitate to ask for some gardening tips!

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