The Alasaw Review
I was on a treasure hunt for a countertop compost bin, nothing fancy necessarily, but instead carefully considered; this bin will be part of my picture, set atop a counter, on display, every day. When I stumbled upon the beauty below, I was instantly calmed by its ingrained ode to wood. It wasn’t long before I was wholly enamored of the company and all that they are doing to inspire a more beautifully sustainable world.
So now, let’s take a stroll, over the meadow and through the woods, into the Alabama Sawyer world of pure imagination…
Glossary of Important Terms:
Alabama Idyllic lanes in full bloom, promenading past colonial mansions and weathered cabins adorned with rusted waterwheels, Alabama is a state mired in heavy history.
Sawyer Just like a lawyer wields the law, a sawyer wields the saw.
Urban Timber If a tree falls in the city, and everybody hears it, does it get to have a purpose? Currently, only five percent of all urban hardwood gets to become part of someone else’s story.
Tree Concierge Sounding more like hipster nonsense than useful service, a Tree Concierge can turn your backyard into your home, imbuing ancient stories into your everyday interactions.
Speaking With Skill And Savor
Tired of executing someone else’s vision, Cliff and Leigh Spencer packed up, moved back to Cliff’s hometown of Birmingham Alabama and, along with Bruce Lanier, started Alasaw. Wanting to learn more, I reached out to Managing Partner, and wife to Cliff, Leigh Spencer with all of the most critical questions. What I learned about the company was quite impressive, but I found the surprise is Leigh’s ability to hone in, simply and truthfully, to the heart of the matter.
Clearing A Better Path
Trees are everywhere, saturating our sensibilities into submission, they fade into the background even as they continue to grow and shade and support and nurture. We don’t think about them. But every day, across the country, many many tons (or several million board feet of usable lumber) are cut down from our city and suburban streets, parks, and yards, only to be abandoned to the mobile wood chipper or, shock, gasp, horror…the landfill.
Instead of relinquishing these nurturing giants to a demeaning fate, master woodworker Cliff swooped in and rescued the shapes and scars created by construction. By eschewing the uniformity of managed forest wood, the Alasaw team creates furniture and accessories that are designed and made in-house to the highest standards. Offering bespoke pieces through their Tree Concierge service is just another way to incorporate local design and traditional craft into your own life. Their minimalist approach highlights the natural patterns of each piece of wood, but it’s the techniques employed by the artisan that guarantees lifelong enjoyment. Or, as Leigh intrinsically understands and so aptly proclaims, “buy things that last, buy less”; sustainability’s most crucial lesson summed up flawlessly.
Specifically, their eco-cred is inherent in the nature of their operation. With 95 percent of their wood “from the immediate vicinity of Birmingham”, they source locally and responsibly, rarely receiving raw materials more than a few miles from the mill. They can even tell you the zip code where your table (or cutting board or storage cube or…) came from and why it was cut down.
Trees Fall, Y’all.
Additionally, there are solar panels on the roof (though as renters they don’t take credit), and they share space and equipment with other companies, cutting down on waste. They also donate products to local charities, and they “have hired from local vocational training programs, targeted to high-risk populations”. But it was Leigh that so concisely reiterated one of the most important features of their product:
“Wood is biodegradable.”
End of story. Or at least, it’s the end of this one…
…To see more about the Spencers and the way they are spreading the wood around, you can view my Artisan Series piece on Cliff and his son.