business that inspires

I’ve said it dozens of times before. Stick around and you’ll hear me say it dozens of times again. Leftbank leads me to visionary people, innovative businesses, and inspiring stories. One of the early introductions was to Tim O’Brien and his company, Tropical Salvage. I’ve sung their praises here and here, and samples of their work winding through Leftbank’s common spaces and the Hive shine with beauty and purpose.

Lisa Peifer contacted me several months ago when she was working on a short documentary about TS, titled “Tropical Salvage: From Recession to Expansion.”  The film was finished and recently placed 3rd in the 2011 oikos International Case Study Competition for the social entrepreneurship track.  You can watch it here.

Tropical Salvage is offering deep discounts right now to make space for a new shipment arriving at the end of the month. If you haven’t visited their warehouse, this would be a great time for a first visit.

Tropical Salvage

A while back I wrote about our friends at Tropical Salvage and their good work in this post.  I’m so happy to report that after many weeks at sea, the Tropical Salvage shipping container arrived bearing loads of beautiful furniture for Leftbank (including desks for the Hive).

Going above and beyond the call seems to be standard practice for these people.  In addition to partnering with Leftbank to bring the project incredible, ecologically and ethically sound furniture, Kevin Havice then spent 2 days helping us get it moved in and teaching us to care for it.  Now we’re armed with the knowledge we need to keep these pieces gorgeous and functional far longer than any of us will be.  Thank you so much, Kevin and Tim!

tropical salvage

I found my way to joining this Leftbank team by accident, or maybe fate – a story too long for a blog post.  Never before had my work world been about property development.  And no one was more surprised than I was to find myself here.  What I have always done is work with a deep sense of purpose, and that’s why this surprising position ended up feeling like the perfect fit.

People don’t typically think of commercial property as a mission-driven thing.  Caring about sustainability, positive change and real relationship is unexpected coming from a development team.  But beyond the thrill of being part of a team that does focus on all these things, working to build community around Leftbank introduces me time and again to people doing the most innovative and inspiring work in our fair city.

Leftbank led me to cross paths with Tim O’Brien and Kevin Havice of Tropical Salvage recently.  After 20 minutes of talking with them, I knew that I wanted to have some of their incredible furniture at Leftbank, and that everyone should hear their story.  From an unassuming shop in SE Portland, these folks do work that is sustainable, ethical, and real.  I urge you to explore it for yourself.  The wood they salvage has such spirit, that you must see and touch it to understand.

Look for their work in the common areas at Leftbank.  The Hive will be filled with fine desks that they’ve crafted.  Below is a bit about them in their own words.  Go to the website, go visit their shop.

“Old Wood. New Use. Positive Change. We salvage tropical hardwoods in Indonesia and use them to build quality, hand-made, solid wood furniture. The salvaged wood beautifully expresses its history. The effects of nails, seasoning cracks, bore holes, wild-growth grain figure and mineral accumulation are evident in many products. They are a wonderful testament to the wood’s historical richness and new eco-positive life. And it comes at an exceptional value; you may not find a better price on solid wood furniture, anywhere.

“100 percent of our wood is salvaged; none of it comes from standing trees. We are a Fair Trade company. Tropical Salvage brings good, steady jobs to an area in North Central Java where unemployment and underemployment affects nearly half of the population who is eligible to work. Part of our mission is to demonstrate to people that industry and markets can provide equivalent (or superior) goods and services, at comparable (or lower) prices, while having a positive social and environmental impact; and, therefore, to have people demand this in the market. Tropical Salvage is a partner in, and contributes funds to, the Jepara Forest Conservancy (JFC), a non-profit organization in North Central Java. The JFC is restoring natural tropical forest ecosystems; creating sustainable livelihoods in organic agriculture; and educating people about primary tropical forests.”