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“If there were a few more GreenWoods and MaderaVerdes, the world would be a much better place.” —Dale Bosworth, Chief, U.S. Forest Service, 2001-2007
GreenWood trains artisans to make high-quality wood products, adding value to forest resources and creating incentives to protect biodiversity.
We foster self-sufficiency by promoting sustainable forest management, the use of lesser-known species, inspired designs, skilled hand-tool production and access to markets.
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GreenWood's Annual Update: 2014
It’s been an extraordinary year, in the most positive sense of the word—and the most negative. On the positive side, I returned from Mexico last week, where GreenWood and the Honduras nonprofit we founded, Fundación Madera Verde, received a $25,000 prize from the Vidanta Foundation for “outstanding, original projects to reduce poverty and inequality and combat discrimination” in Latin America. (We took third place in a field of nearly 400 applicants.) The Vidanta prize is one of two major validations we received in 2014—the other being our receipt in January of the first-ever Innovation Prize awarded by the Yale School of Forestry.
Between these bookends of recognition, 2014 also delivered some tragic losses, with the assassination of two Honduran colleagues—a young government forester and the dynamic mayor of our most dedicated partner communities. And the illegal forest invasions I reported last year have hardly abated. Remarkably, Madera Verde staff, artisans and sawyers continue not just to persevere in this threatening context, but to advance.
Silas Kopf Named Smithsonian Master
Founding GreenWood board member and former treasurer, Silas Kopf of Easthampton, Massachusetts, has been named a 2015 "Master of the Medium" by the James Renwick Alliance of the Smithsonian Institution for his exemplary work in wooden marquetry. Past honorees in the Renwick's wood category include Sam Maloof, Wendell Castle and Judy MacKie.
Silas is widely known for his inventive and witty inlayed furniture, which he has been making since 1973. His "Bad Hare Day," pictured at right, was purchased for the Renwick collection in 2008. His work can also be found in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and numerous private collections. He has designed and executed the decorative inlaid case of several concert grand pianos for Steinway & Sons.
Good Penmanship in Honduras: President Obama Receives GreenWood Gift
A box of exotic hardwood pens from Honduras, turned on foot-powered treadle lathes by GreenWood-trained artisans, was presented by the newly elected President Hernández of Honduras to President Obama at the White House during an immigration "mini-summit" on July 25, 2014. The enterprise that created a matched set of engraved pens from the tropical forests of the Mosquito Coast does not, so to speak, grow on trees. It was built entirely by hand—not handouts.
Twenty years ago the fledgling nonprofit GreenWood recognized that land tenure and gainful employment are fundamental to good environmental management and a sustainable society. Since 1993 GreenWood has been training artisans in Honduras, with the support of the U.S. Forest Service and others, to earn a living from well-managed forests through their production of high-value wood products—furniture, boats, carved bowls, guitar parts and the turned wooden pens shown here.
Honduras Mahogany Guitar & Uke Parts Now Available!
For more than a decade, GreenWood has partnered with the Taylor Guitar Company, the U.S. Forest Service and others to train Honduran community sawyers in the production of high-quality mahogany guitar parts from well-managed forests. Now—for the first time—we are able to offer the U.S. guitar-building market a small quantity of mahogany guitar and ukulele necks, along with a few sets of backs and sides. This is the dark, smooth mahogany so highly prized by the trade for its stability and its excellent “carveable” texture. It also comes from one of the only managed sources of Honduras mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) that actually comes from Honduras. It is legal, kiln-dried and carefully harvested from large trees to produce the good quarter and straight grain (and no juvenile wood) that meets or exceeds the expectations of high-end luthiers.
Good news is not something we’ve come to associate with Honduras, a country that has been overwhelmed by an explosion in drug trafficking and gang violence, which are contributing directly to the tide of unaccompanied children flooding our southern border. So much tragedy, so close to home, and so few stories of successful ventures that are making a real difference.