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Bold Strokes

By Marilyn Berlin Snell

New Life for Old Lumber
When a tree falls in the city, we hear it but we rarely know quite what to do with it–or the thousands of tons of scrap lumber, pallets, and stumps that wind up clogging our landfills. In California alone, more than 3 million tons of urban wood enter the waste stream each year. Now two Oakland-based friends have figured out a way to divert it to lofty ends. Working with government agencies and arborists, Marcus von Skepsgardh and Shane Eagleton refashion discarded trees and wood into designer countertops, flooring, decking, and lumber. Their nonprofit organization, Protect All Life, sells recycled products and even creates artwork from salvaged trees as a way to promote public awareness of sustainable forestry.

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Not-So-Gentlemanly Farmers
Last year’s farm bill allowed numerous corporate agribusinesses to collect farm-assistance checks at their swanky urban addresses. If you need proof, just go to the Environmental Working Group’s "City Slickers" Web site ( to find the fake farmers being subsidized near you. Among the beneficiaries listed are "farmers" like Boise Cascade, Chevron, and DuPont.

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