Green Canopy RePurpose: The Art of the Deconstruction

September 17th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Caitlin Hoeberlein, Green Canopy Project Engineer, Spec Construction.


“…some homes are worth saving, some aren’t.”

-Bradly Gunn, Seattle Demo Project



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At Green Canopy, we are committed to resource efficiency. For us, this goes beyond installing solar panels and thicker insulation. When the structure of an existing home is unsalvageable, we are in a rare position to be able to decide how to dismantle the home, and how those resources are re-used and re-purposed. This means that we have the ability to save the embodied energy of the existing structure–talk about resource efficiency!

We aren’t the only ones who are inspired by deconstruction. Bradly Gunn is a local Seattle painter and architect who started the Seattle Demo Project, an art and architectural program documenting and memorialising soon-to-be demolished homes in Seattle. According to Gunn, “the Seattle Demo Project is focused on bringing light to a relatively misunderstood or ignored facet of Seattle’s urban condition. We want to activate soon-to-be-demolished structures and provide an opportunity to learn, explore, and engage the community one last time before they are gone.”


When he found out that more than one home per day was being torn down in Seattle, he realized that his art could shed light on this staggering statistic by converting these homes, a formerly untapped resource, into an artistic and educational opportunity.


As a builder, we hear a lot of criticism against development. Gunn claims he was in the “anti-development camp” just a few years ago. He wanted to keep his neighborhood the way it was, but soon realized that “some homes are worth saving. Some aren’t.” When he found out that more than one home per day was being torn down in Seattle, he realized that his art could shed light on this staggering statistic by converting these homes, a formerly untapped resource, into an artistic and educational opportunity. “Houses are an art medium of a very different scale, that only a handful of artists have gotten to play with,” he says. “As a medium, there’s a lot of potential and many stories to uncover.”

Unlike our team here at Green Canopy, Gunn didn’t come to deconstruction from a sustainability standpoint. He was not interested in the repurpose value of the materials, but rather the value that documenting these projects could have for communities, architects and students. He envisioned transforming these run-down homes into a touch-point for neighbors to learn about architecture and development in an open and engaging way, by abstracting it. “When it’s not the house or the walls, it becomes another story,” says Gunn. He sees his work as an avenue for architects to reexamine failed systems, and for students to gain firsthand experience in the field. He likens student involvement in his project to doctors studying cadavers–documenting the deterioration of a house provides invaluable lessons for those designing new homes.

When the structure of the existing home is unsalvageable, Green Canopy is committing to deconstructing instead of demolishing whenever possible, saving as much embodied energy as we can. We are happy to support Gunn in his artistic and educational quest. Gunn is currently documenting two of our deconstruction projects in Ballard and West Seattle: Gertrude and Aura. We are deconstructing these homes by hand, and will reuse and recycle 100% of what we dismantle. Together, we can build a new, sustainable future by learning from and respecting the past.

You can learn more about the Seattle Demo Project here, and about Green Canopy RePurpose by contacting Justin Hooks, Green Canopy VP of Construction. Below are some of the images from two of our deconstruction projects – including photography by Bradly Gunn of the Seattle Demo Project, and images from our demo crew at Cleo. Green Canopy is soon to offer our Green Canopy RePurpose services to other builders. Stay tuned!

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Seattle Demo Project – Gertrude

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Seattle Demo Project – Gertrude

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Seattle Demo Project – Gertrude

 

 

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Green Canopy RePurpose – Cleo

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Green Canopy RePurpose – Cleo

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Green Canopy RePurpose – Cleo

 

 

To hear more about our reuse and the deconstruction process, join us for this year’s Green Genius Awards and the Built Green Conference on September 18th. Justin Hooks will be a session speaker and Green Canopy is the Reception Sponsor. Click here for more info about the conference.

 

 

Water to Wine – Green Home Transformation in PDX

September 10th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.


“He heard me on Seattle’s local NPR affiliate. He saw our ad, and he was determined to work for Green Canopy, learn our business, prove himself and show what he is capable of. He got the job.”


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Ryan Nieto came into the office looking like a modern “Urban Jesus”. The moniker stuck. Thick long brown hair, beard, tats… full on Portlandia meets Seattle. He was working as a mechanical HVAC installer, installing air-conditioning systems at QFC grocery stores. He wanted to work for us as a laborer.

He said he saw the ad on our website. It wasn’t adding up for me. He was making good money as a mechanical installer and wanted to take a cut in pay and responsibility to work for Green Canopy. “Who was this guy?” I was thinking.

As it turns out Ryan is a veteran of the Marine Corps in Iraq. He is an avid bouldered/climber and outdoor enthusiast. He has the millennial mindset that the Green Canopy culture warmly embraces. And most importantly he leads with his heart and his mind. Which is another way of saying he follows his heart as his mind works the calculations. Love that. He came in bold into the office, eyes on fire and twitching, a vestige of hard times spent in a war zone. He heard me on Seattle’s local NPR affiliate. He saw our ad, and he was determined to work for Green Canopy, learn our business, prove himself and show what he is capable of. He got the job.

Green Canopy is the only for-profit homebuilder (that we are aware of) in all of America that was intentionally and deliberately started to combat and lessen the negative impacts of climate change and resource scarcity via in-city homebuilding.

We are run by a group of commited contractors, bankers, designers and most importantly, business people who are breaking the typical homebuilder mold and working hard to build an inspirational brand that helps to leave the world better off. We are funded by a similar minded base of over 40 shareholders and counting… We are lucky to have shareholders that are dedicated to investing their money where their values are for the sake of future generations. We are propelled by the Real Estate Agent community that understands their roll in residential real estate can be used to create transformational change for the better by promoting Green Canopy’s mission and vision of the future.

We are banking on the success of Portland to fuel expansion outside the Pacific Northwest region and into other markets across the country.

With Green Canopy all started up and on solid footing in Seattle, it is time to take the most important step in our company’s short existence: expand and prove that our model can organically grow like a bamboo shoot into new markets. We are so excited to take this critical next step and expand to Portland! Portland is more important to the future success of Green Canopy than anything we are currently working on. We are banking on the success of Portland to fuel expansion outside the Pacific Northwest region and into other markets across the country.

And we are lucky.

As a city, Portland shares what is at the heart of Green Canopy. Green Canopy, like Portland, is brimming with purpose-seeking, millennial minds. As the show Portlandia famously put it, “Portland is the place where young people go to retire.” …Retire from the top down, do-as-your-told, speak-when-spoken-to, non-purposeful J. O. B. economy, to engage in the purpose driven economy where merit prevails over tenure, mentoring over micro-managing, and critical consumption over wanton consumption. Thank God that a city so dedicated to getting the new economy right, with local brands long dedicated to local, conscious, and sustainable living such as Powels Books, Ecotrust, Clean Energy Works, and so many more, represents the future success for Green Canopy.

Over the course of the last three years, Ryan has taken 10 old, run-down, drafty homes and miraculously transformed these into resource efficient, certified green, and the highest in quality rebuilt homes to inspire generations of future residents. Working out of the Ecotrust building in the Pearl, Ryan will be responsible for applying his hard earned homebuilding magic to manage the inspirational transformation of old homes to new, and building brand new homes designed to inspire and create awareness of the benefits of resource efficiency.

Ryan is Green Canopy is Ryan. We share the same mission, vision and values and are hopeful that these will resonate in Portland. So nearly three years on, Urban Jesus, is heading to the City of Bridges. Don’t expect him to walk across the Columbia and Willamette Rivers to get there, or go into business transforming water to wine… his assignment is much more terrestrial and perhaps mundane in nature. We don’t have a divine goal of saving humanity, but we are humbly trying to make the world a little better place through our work. Here we come…


Agents of Change & Transformation

August 29th, 2014 by Krystal

The Green Geniuses of Seattle’s Residential Housing MarketGreenGeniusAwardsLogo2014-06

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

We work with hundreds of Real Estate Brokers in the Seattle market to efficiently rebuild our city from the inside out. Internally at Green Canopy we consider the Real Estate Broker community to be Agents of change and transformation. We offer monthly education for Real Estate Brokers to not only help them understand the benefit of resource efficient homes, but to also help them understand the importance of the global and national challenges we are combating through our collective work together. Together, we sincerely and ideally believe that we can change the face of our city and the nation for generations of residents in the years to come.

To increase the awareness of this highly important work, we created the Green Genius Awards. These awards recognize the top ten Real Estate Brokers in our community that have transacted in the most certified green home sales over the course of a year. The Green Genius Award itself is given to the number ONE Listing Broker and the number ONE Selling Broker that represents buyers of certified green homes. We do what we can to promote these award winners throughout the community and create awareness for their Green Genius prowess.

This year’s panel of judges include Maryanne Coffman from 1st Security Bank, Sarah Ealey from Built Green, Kevin Peterson from Puget Sound Energy, Ann Sammon from Green Canopy Homes, Dustin Van Wyck from Windermere, and Ben Kauffman from KW GreenWorks.

Each agent was assessed based on 5 things:

  • Total Number of Sales or Listings
  • Project Impact: how important was that project to the neighborhood context, what level of certification did it complete, how innovative was the project, etc.
  • Marketing & Awareness: How much exposure did this project get beyond the MLS? Did it include its certification level in the marketing remarks? Did the marketing include promotion of features beyond the certification and appliances to show value in the building innovation?
  • Project Exposure: Are the projects and their brands highly visible? Did the builder also promote their own project and was it promoted on the BuiltGreen website?
  • DOM: Days on Market. This is typically a good indicator of increased awareness and anticipation of a project. For a Selling Agent, however, we did consider the extra effort that needed to go into selling a green product that may have sat on the market either due to neighborhood sales velocity or poor pricing.

Green Canopy is especially proud of all of the agents that have made the Top 10 this year and the agents who continue to work toward a greener and more sustainable community. This year the #1 Listing Agent and the #1 Selling Agent will win several exciting prizes.

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TreeHouse Point B&B, Issaquah WA

The award prizes will include:

  • A 2 night stay at TreeHouse Point in Issaquah; a unique Bed and Breakfast with Treehouse cabins
  • Dinner with the CEO of Green Canopy at a local Pacific Northwest Restaurant
  • A $200 donation to Arbor Day Foundation in the Agent’s name; for every dollar donated, a tree is planted… that’s an entire forest!! Each tree represents 911lbs of carbon sequestration every year!*

CONGRATULATIONS TO THIS YEAR’S TOP 10!

Top 5 Selling Agents:

  • Winston McClanahan Redfin Corp.
  • Joe Hunt Redfin Corp.
  • Matt Snell Re/Max on the Lake
  • Jeffrey Parker Windermere R.E./ Capitol Hill
  • Jane Maxson Coldwell Banker Bain

Top 5 Listing Agents:

  • Jay Miller Keller Williams Downtown Seattle
  • Susan L. Stasik Windermere R.E. Madison
  • James Dainard Heaton Dainard LLC
  • Kari Collins Keller Williams Greater Seattle
  • Darcy A. Walker Conner Real Estate Group, LLC

 

*Carbon sequestration information available here


Mission NetZero: Homes As Printers

August 27th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

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I get it, I get it… If our homes are printers then what is delivered through them is the ink. One compelling future of homebuilding could be about selling homes at a lower and lower price while controlling the delivery of utilities and financing to the homeowner. Big utility companies are becoming viewed more and more as dinosaurs facing an uncertain future. But whether the homebuilder directly or indirectly brings the home, the mortgage and the utilities directly to the homeowner has yet to be seen… that business model has a long way to go before it is entirely worked through.

Either way, what appears paramount is that homes of the future, Green Canopy’s homes, must be extremely efficient, produce energy, store energy and decrease the home’s waste streams in order for the printer and ink analogy to be realized. This aligns with our commitment to build as many net-zero homes as possible… that is clearly the future in homebuilding, and our children will thank us for it.

Consider these two articles before you think me crazy.

Why Morgan Stanley is Betting that Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company.

Carmaker Honda will Build and Fuel 40% of All New Homes by 2060

These are BIG companies placing big bets with real cash and they are helping Green Canopy change the narrative in the market and chart our course of the future. In the world of this particular future, our GHG emissions will not simply be much lower, they will ultimately be controllable. Controllable systems are efficient systems and will allow society to venture in new and potentially better directions. This is a world I am excited about helping to build for my children and my children’s children.


Yes… Building Green Does Cost More

August 18th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

 


“This study adds to a growing body of work on the costs and value of sustainability. It provides further strong evidence that a sustainable approach need not add significantly to building costs. And, where there are additional capital costs, these can be repaid relatively quickly through the reduced costs of operating the building.”

-Yetunde Abdul, Non-domestic Group Manager at BREEAM UK

New Research Challenges the Perception that Sustainability Costs


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At Green Canopy we build homes that cost less to own and we guarantee that. This is a benefit that is enjoyed directly by our homeowners. Year over year they will see their energy bills pale in comparison to their neighbors. While Green Canopy builds the homes – it is the customer that collects the savings from “green” not the builder.

That is why when someone asks “Doesn’t it cost more to build green?” the answer is a resounding “Yes.” The cost of building a Green Canopy home is higher… much higher, but the process is also more thorough, and as a result the homes are simply better. However, selling these amazing homes at a competitive price in the market and making a profit doesn’t appear easy when the cost to build them is higher… so we are dedicated to innovating our building processes and managing within the cost constraints of the marketplace.

At Green Canopy, we have always been dedicated to efficiently managing our supply chain and process management systems to compensate for the significantly increased costs of bringing green, efficient and more sustainable homes to the market. The challenge of building the highest quality homes that are better for our families and the planet and doing so within the cost constraints of the market has always been identified as our number one challenge… and we are up for the challenge!

I recently read this great piece commenting on a new research study: New Research Challenges the Perception that Sustainability Costs. I have heard discussions and arguments for years that building green, efficient and more sustainable homes cost more. The discussions and research studies assert that the additional costs of building more sustainable buildings isn’t drastic especially when considering the reduced cost of ownership. It is wonderful that this new study clearly shows how to recapture the additional cost of resource efficient construction! Unfortunately for Green Canopy we don’t live in our homes, so we can’t benefit from the operational cost savings that we build into the homes.

However, the women and men of Green Canopy love the challenge of building green homes and selling them at competitive market prices. We continue to push ourselves and figure out new methods of project management, design and material procurement. With every home we sell we are living up to the challenge and bringing the best in housing to market. As a result of this dedication to quality and innovation, we can competitively price our homes in the market, they in turn sell fast, and our homeowners save money. We know that if we can outperform our competition we will build a thriving business, while creating beautiful and resource efficient homes that will rest on the surface of the Earth inspiring generations of future homeowners to come.


If a tree falls, we hear it.

August 5th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Krystal Meiners

Recently, our CEO wrote an article in which he mentioned that “at Green Canopy, we recognize that we are firmly planted with everyone else somewhere along the spectrum of hypocrisy.” He was talking about how it is very easy in this industry to not be “green enough” – and how, when you are dealing with market-based realities, you can’t always make the most climate sensitive decisions.

This is hard for our team. It’s hard for any values-based organization.

Despite that – we do our best. If we can’t do the best thing – we will always do the next best thing. And we never stop innovating. Nor do we give in to the status quo.

Most recently our team had to cut down a towering Blue Atlas Cedar on one of our project sites. How could Green Canopy – whose very logo is a stately tree – cut down trees?! Sure there are plenty of design opportunities for homes built around trees, on top of trees, in trees – but the fact was, this was not a custom home and design dollars had to be spared for other resource efficiencies.

This Blue Atlas will not go to waste though. We spend a great many hours and dedicated brain power to ensure that we limit our waste streams as much as we can. Instead, we milled the wood on site and we will incorporate it into design features in our future projects.

The arborist that we use in Seattle is Treecycle and the mobile miller is AJ’s Custom Portable Saw Milling; their services include felling trees and onsite milling into usable lumber – or in our case – into live edge slabs. It is an amazing process to see – and our PM Ryan Nieto was gracious enough to capture it last week.

Below is a time lapse of the milling. You will likely see this noble tree in the near future in a few of our homes or in other projects after it cures. Similar to this Blue Atlas, we have another cedar that we milled a few years ago. It will be used for this year’s BuiltGreen and Green Genius Award plaques – celebrating the region’s most sustainable projects and people.

We made similar plaques last year for the Green Genius winners and are excited to be working with Built Green to craft all of the awards this year. It is great to have these trees come full circle as a reminder to all builders about the use and reuse of this world’s incredible resources.

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To hear more about our reuse and the deconstruction process, join us for this year’s Green Genius Awards and the Built Green Conference on September 18th. Justin Hooks will be a session speaker and Green Canopy is the Reception Sponsor. Click here for more info about the conference.


Cultures of Respect, Trust & Love

July 29th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

Photo courtesy of The Shopping Sherpa on Flickr

I recently read the PSBJ article by Rachel Lerman on elephants under the corporate table. In the article she recapped an interview between Joe Wallin of Davis Wright Tremaine and Dan Levitan, the founder of Maveron. It was striking to hear Levitan, a venture capitalist, talk about not underestimating the importance of a “holistic team where there are no elephants under the table.” He noted that the most agile and high-functioning teams have love, respect, and appreciation for each other.

It sounds like Levitan is a millennial at heart. Corporate America is changing rapidly. The 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s Mad Men era of, “do as you are told” and heavy, top down management is a thing of the past. And as this interview illustrates, the importance of healthy corporate cultural development can no longer be denied. The millennial generation has been given a bad rap and pointed to as entitled and fickle job-hoppers, however my experience is that inside every top caliber talent, whether they were born before or after 1981, exists a millennial mind and heart.

“When the right cause is coupled with a great cultural framework, magic happens.”

High functioning people need to be inspired to work hard. As Elon Musk recently said, “Putting in long hours for a corporation is hard, putting in long hours for a cause is easy.” In addition to having a cause that inspires, high functioning people need to feel respected in order to contribute their all. Furthermore, they will not work for a team that they themselves cannot respect. Just look at the non-profit world. Nonprofits are all about great causes yet, we all probably know at least one or two that can never seem to live up to their potential. Having a great cause or purpose in today’s corporate America isn’t enough… creating inspiration at intersection of people and the cause results from a deliberate focus on corporate culture.

When the right cause is coupled with a great cultural framework, magic happens. Think of that framework as a tapestry of shared values. Everything from who washes dishes in the corporate kitchen to how board meetings are run… those values present themselves to the rest of the team. If there is misalignment or inconsistency, no matter how noble the cause, the ecosystem of the organization will begin to break down. Respect and love for each other is so important.

Equally important is trust, where confident leaders motivate not through the force of their egos, but by letting go of control and empowering their team to take responsibility for their own decisions. Having autonomy is a must for top tier talent (micro-managers suck) and talented people are the very people that we all want to work with. Good managers will let go of control beyond what feels comfortable and play to the strengths of the team. Playing to someone’s strengths is simply another way of saying, don’t ask people to do what they are not good at. If a team member was hired for a job that they are not good at or interested in, then management should recognize their complicity and move the individual into a role that they are good at and interested in mastering.

Lastly, when thinking about the insights of people like Levitan, consider how far we have come in managing top talent in America, and then consider just how far we still have yet to go. Thankfully, the millennial mind has been born and is demanding more from corporate America. It demands that managers earn the right to retain top talent… top talent isn’t only interested in money.

The problems we face as a nation and as a species balancing on stressed and changing ecosystems are pressing to say the least. Establishing corporate cultures that are designed ultimately to respect people and play to their strengths is a must for the successful businesses of the future, and a must for a fragile species in need of corporate solutions that address resource scarcity on a planet in transition.


Inspiring at the Intersection of Corporate Attitude and Climate Action

July 18th, 2014 by Krystal

Contributed by Aaron Fairchild, CEO of Green Canopy, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Flickr: Horia Varlan

I met my wife, Susan, 14 years ago at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was a banker and Susan was forming a non-profit mentorship program for at-risk youth in south Seattle. She was attending the meeting to recruit mentors and came away with a lot more than she anticipated. We lived very different lives at the time however we shared similar values of social and environmental justice.

Over the course of the next several years I continued to feel juxtaposed in life. I was working to make money, and really wanted to be making a difference. The juxtaposed feeling culminated in meeting another couple on a hiking outing in 2003, when I was asked what I did for a living. When I responded that I worked in banking, the couple immediately looked at Susan and asked what she did for a living. When she said that she worked in the non-profit sector, they quickly struck up a conversation leaving me feeling like a third wheel. Ugh… it was time for a change.

I guess I share many of the attitudes of the millennial generation, meaning I am far from alone. I am ambitious and demand a lot from an employer in order to earn my respect and retention. I am fine working long hours from the office and from home if I am inspired, and I believe in perhaps a naïve notion that I can live an aligned life.

When I reflect on my own experience and look out at the world around me I see the intersection of two major factors that are driving our company, Green Canopy, and the future of business:

1) The prevailing cultural attitude of the “millennial” shared by so many born before and after 1981, and;

2) Society’s hard charging transition into a new world paradigm of severe resource constraints and climate upheaval.

The success of Green Canopy and other companies is limited only in our ability to positively respond to these two things.

The first of these requires that we inspire our employees and earn the right of their respect and continued employment. And whether the business of an organization is about addressing environmental challenges head on like Green Canopy or not, the most successful businesses of the future will intentionally conduct their operations in the most resource efficient manner possible. Simple, yet oh so difficult.

“At Green Canopy we recognize that we are firmly planted with everyone else somewhere along the spectrum of hypocrisy.”

After the culminating hike in 2003, I spent much of my time trying to create alignment in my life by finding ways to apply my skills and experiences toward environmental issues. That eventually led me to quit working at my father’s bank in order to start my own enterprise. And in 2008 I shared an idea I had recently been mulling on with a longtime friend. After a short period of time Sam and I began developing the plan and finding the right partners that would lead to starting Green Canopy over one year later.

At Green Canopy we recognize that we are firmly planted with everyone else somewhere along the spectrum of hypocrisy. Our mission is to inspire resource efficiency and – while we are extremely intentional and deliberately try to always make the most resource efficient and less environmentally harmful homebuilding decisions – we have yet to perfect our efforts in building the utmost in green and resource efficient homes. Sometimes we are faced with no other alternative than to make the less resource efficient or more wasteful decision. It sincerely frustrates the team when this happens. We certainly have green building design and development standards that we never sacrifice, but the cruel realities of market-based economics sometimes force our hand. And yet many times these very same constraints open up new possibilities. However, at the end of the day we are far from perfect. So when I talk about our company it comes from a position of deep humility and a desire to inspire others to take action.

Inspiring at the intersection of the prevailing cultural attitude and the new world paradigm of severe resource constraints is clearly tricky. How we go about it at Green Canopy is through delivering – for our employees – what Daniel Pink has written heavily about: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Intentionally building a company designed to deliver these three essential things to its employees took a lot of thought and dedication to cultural development. As a result of our culture we cannot help but to give employees autonomy to make their own empowered decisions, the ability to master what they are already interested in, and a binding sense of purpose. Inspiring at the intersection happens right there, with the binding sense of purpose. Developing a cultural framework that allows every employee to meaningfully engage in addressing that purpose is part of the work.

When Susan and I reflect on the journey of the last decade and the sacrifices that we have made as a family to get here, we know that it was well worth the struggle. We are aligned through our work and in our day-to-day lives and we are proud that through this career we are making a meaningful and lasting difference. Also, despite the hike and my feelings of career shame, my banking skills definitely come in handy at Green Canopy. The future of business requires innovation on every front, including capital.AaronSusan

image_miniAaron will be the Keynote Speaker at The Future of Business Conference in Bellingham, WA on July 31st. More information about the conference or to register click here.