“Earth’s great air conditioners, trees rid the air of excess carbon dioxide and other pollutants to improve air quality.”
If you tend to look at the state of the world, shrug shoulders and declare, “What can one person do?” – let me introduce you to Lands’ End employee and artistic wood craftsman, Paul Elgin.
When I met with Paul, he was anxiously waiting for the arrival of a shipment of 100 tree saplings from the Lafayette County Land Conservation. “I’ve got Red Oaks, Balsam Fir and White Spruce coming in next week.” Paul makes it his duty to purchase and plant these native species so as to reintroduce them into the community’s public lands. Paul credits his father for raising him with “a sense of environment responsibility.” Father and son frequently worked together helping neighbors plant trees and spread the word of conservancy.
Paul is on a one-man mission to get rid of invasive species such as Buckthorn, which is an ornamental plant brought to Wisconsin in 1840s that causes dense cover, reducing light to the forest floor and crowding out native vegetation. With permission from the county, he harvests the Buckthorn and other tree debris and then reuses it for his artwork.
Paul pays it forward by sharing the native trees he purchases from the county with friends and family.
Crediting his experience at the Woodlanders Gathering, an annual event held at Shake Rag Alley Arts Community in Mineral Point, Paul discovered a like-minded community who also valued reusing discarded wood and invasive species for art. The art Paul creates ranges from a rustic and very usable bottle opener made of Buckthorn to a shelf that’s a combination of branches and pieces of discarded furniture.
The student has become the teacher and this year Paul will be instructing two courses at the Woodlanders event in July, where he will continue to spread the word of conservation and help others find their own artistic style and respect for nature, one twig at a time.
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