#11 – August 22 1999

The OpenMinder talked to Will Wallick, a furnituremaker from Greenwood with a different approach.
OpenMinder: Your furniture is very unique. When one looks at your work it almost seems that the wood is still living. How do you achieve this effect?
Will Wallick: Have you ever looked at a piece of wood and, just by the colour of it, the way it’s been aged and the bleaching of the sun, that you know where it comes from and the climate it grew in? To bring that out in the open is what I try to do with all of the pieces I make. If it’s ‘wet belt’ furniture, I try to make it look ‘wet belt’… it tends to flow more like the new logo I had designed. If it’s a ‘dry belt’, it would look more brittle. It’s very hard to put this into words.
OM: How long have you been involved in working with wood?
Will: Let me see, since my early 20’s, but even before that I used to fool around with wood in my teens.
OM: Was there any particular thing in your life that made you choose to work with wood?
Will: I built log homes, and when you’re building log homes you start seeing all the different things that happen with construction designs. Log home construction is totally different than designs with dimensional lumber.
OM: Where did you learn how to build log homes?
Will: In 100 Mile House, log home capital of the world.
OM: Were you formally trained to build log homes or was it more ‘on the job’ training?
Will: I spent probably 2 years training, but the ‘on the job’ training and learning never stops. You never stop learning, there are always new techniques that you come up with while you are building.
OM: You were talking about there being differences in construction style between log home building and ‘dimensional construction’, could you give us an example?
Will: You have to think about shrinkage, which you don’t have in dimensional construction. You have to allow for a whole house to shrink. For window headers you have to allow about 3″, sometimes up to 6″. If the house is built too tight, then you have windows popping out. You have to build knowing it’s going to shrink. Ideally, the way people used to do it, they would dry their logs for a long time and then they would build their house, but with the commercial market for log homes happening now and because of necessity people started using greener wood.
OM: How long did you work building log homes?
Will: Pretty close to 12 years.
OM: The pieces of wood that you are working with now are considerably lighter than the logs for a house.
Will: There was a period of time a few years ago when I was working as an animal trainer, there was about 3 months between shows and I had to get a part-time job, so I started building log homes again and I had trouble with my back, so they asked me if I would be interested in building furniture. I’d done a little bit in the past, as well as windows and doors out of dimensional lumber and some log home railings. So I started building furniture and found I could come up with better designs than they were giving me, but I didn’t want to give them to the company I was working for and lose the rights to my designs.
OM: Is that when you decided to work on your own?
Will: Yes, pretty much, but it still took another couple of years before it could happen. Being a one-man operation gives me an advantage over the bigger companies in that I can go out and handpick the wood, give real high quality work in one-of-a-kind designs. Each piece is signed and numbered.
OM: How is the demand for this kind of unique product?
Will: Well, I wasn’t too sure at first and it’s been quite a struggle, but just recently I found a buyer who has a very good niche in the market and is willing to pay top dollar on the wholesale level. I am getting what I feel the pieces are worth.
OM: Your company is presently in a name change from Western Life Log Furniture to White Buffalo Log Furniture, could you tell us the reason for this?
Will: Well, I’m fond of native spirituality and there is a legend of a White Buffalo, which many tribes believe is a sacred apocaliptic animal. The event (birth of a white buffalo) could be compared to the second coming of Christ, according to what a Sioux medicineman once said and the legend is that it would return and unify the nations of the four colours. As it happens, on Nov. 20th in ’94 one was born. It’s a very rare occurance, the odds of a white buffalo being born are about 10 million to one, and that was when they were at their peak population of about 80 million! I chose the name ‘White Buffalo’ because I believe there is a change coming in the forest industry and the way we treat the land we live from. We can’t take more out of it than it has got to give. If we don’t put anything back in we won’t survive.
OM: How does your business impact the forest?
Will: Way back in the late 70’s there were a lot of spacing contracts available and I learned how to space trees properly, and some of this background made me aware of a lot of wood that was never used, small diameter. As a logger and faller, I would sit on a stump at the end of the day and survey the area you cut and not be too happy. Today I would much rather walk in the bush and leave it better than it was before by thinning and using dead wood. There is no reason anyone like me would have to use live green wood.
OM: You mean you don’t have to cut down any trees to make your furniture?
Will: No, I don’t. A lot of wood I get is stuff that goes to the landfill or it’s dead standing wood that someone will take down or sometimes it will come down and rot, which is a good thing too. I leave some too, but I don’t think it is as disturbing to the forest as taking a live one out.
OM: What kind of wood is the one that gives your furniture this unique look?
Will: Black Locust, which I use quite a bit, became available to me about a year ago and it’s a wood that was brought in from the Apalachians and was planted about the middle of this century, a lot of it to reclaim mine sites and by now it has naturalized here. Another couple of naturalized species that I use are elm and maple. I use hawthorne, if I find dead hawthorne, sometimes diamond willow. Anything that grows to more than a couple of inches in diameter, I can use it if it’s hard.
OM: The quality of your work tells me that you have formal training in cabinet making.
Will: Yes, I do. I was working for a firm in Alberta who let me have the keys to the shop on the weekends and I would go in there to keep busy and stay out of trouble and make furniture. That’s how I learned the trade. I have alway had a love for wood and been lucky enough to have good employers that were like mentors to me.
OM: How do you feel your type of forest use is being taken by the rest of the forest industry?
Will: I feel that the forest industry is becoming more flexible in being able to work with individuals, as long as people are reasonable and do it by the rules.
OM: How would you sum up the way you feel about your work?
Will: There is something that is really awsome about seeing the wood standing, having it milled by one of the local guys, and you turn the wood to see what you can do with it, taking it home and drying it in your shop for a year, it’s earthy, it’s hands-on, complete. It’s hard to find an occupation which can give you that.
OM: How long does it take you to make a piece of furniture?
Will: Most of the time is taken up in looking at the wood and waiting for it to tell me what to do with it and how to work it into a project as legs or whatever, sometimes it can take months. I don’t waste anything, virtually every board that goes into my shop is used. There is a lot of refined work that goes into that rough-hewn look!

Ask the MAN

Question to Mayor Brian Taylor from Lydia McAndrew: What does a Mayor do?

Answer from Brian Taylor: The mayor acts in a number of capacities, greeting visitors to the city, representing the city at special awards and ceremonies. The mayor is often the formal link to other levels of government. He or she is responsible for the delegation of responsibilities to the six other city councillors, through the working committee structures. The mayor is the council’s formal connection to the city administrator and plans the agenda for city council meetings with the city administrator. The mayor chairs most of the formal meetings held by the city, such as open houses, public hearings and regular special and in-camera meetings. The job of chairing these various meetings is challenging from the standpoint of the “special powers” of the mayor. The unilateral powers of the mayor are limited to the following: the mayor can call a meeting of council, appoint committees, call for public meetings, under certain strict rules, call back a decision by council for a second look. Having reviewed those areas in the reality of the council structure, the mayor has one vote just like all the other councillors. The mayor’s job is to find a way to make whatever group the citizens elect, work in the best interest of the city. Day to day the mayor goes to meetings, spends considerable time reading documents, on the phone, talking and listening to positive and negative feedback, and in the era we live in, communicating through the net. To finish with a thought of mine on how to make city government work better: What about having a youth shadow cabinet that would be elected, learning first-hand how government works or doesn’t and being a voice for the younger citizens of Grand Forks?

Shopping Local
by Ken Thomson
I am writing this in response to the recent OpenMinder article written by Sonja Gartner. After living in Grand Forks for the past 3 years, the “Big City” holds little attraction for me. Yes, I admit, it took a bit of adjustment. For the first six months I missed the “convenience” of 24-hour shopping. I didn’t miss “mall fatigue” or the stressful pace of life that comes with gridlock traffic and competition for everything from parking space to my dollars.
I’ve found that I don’t waste as much money on impulse purchases and if I can’t find it in Grand Forks, I probably don’t need it. Christmas shopping has gotten a lot simpler and more enjoyable.
Even going to Kelowna quickly lost its appeal. When I factor in gas, coffee and junk food for the trip, I usually save money by buying locally. The biggest bonus of shopping locally is getting to know people. Being greeted by name and getting exceptional service are things that rarely happened in Vancouver. Here’s just one example: I was out of town and my wife’s car broke down. Mary at Three Phase Rebuilders not only made sure the car was repaired properly but provided transportation home with the extra touch of checking to see if Teresa and our little boy needed to stop at a store for milk or diapers. Now that’s service!! It’s not unusual in Grand Forks.
Day in and day out, local merchants provide products and services to help out worthy causes in our community. We need to support them, not only because they deserve it, but because without those healthy local businesses providing jobs and community support we would be in a pretty bleak situation.
The Boundary Artisans Market & Visitors Centre Co-op was created to support artisans, crafters and woodworkers to earn a living with their unique talents. It was also created to act as a catalyst for developing tourism in Boundary Country. I got involved because it was a good idea and because I would like my son, when he’s old enough to work, to have a choice of being able to live and work here rather than being forced to move elsewhere.
The bottom line is the more we support local business, the more they are able to provide jobs and support to our community. We can have an ever stronger circle or a descending spiral. It’s up to each one of us.
Artisans interested in joining the cooperative can contact us at our location at 6399 Hwy. #3 or phone us at 442-4229, fax at 442-4249 or e-mail to: bamcoop@bcsympatico.ca

Patch Adams
Many of you have already seen the story of Hunter “Patch” Adams as played by Robin Williams. Patch Adams became a Giraffe long before the movie studios were interested in doing his story. In fact, the movie producers learned about Patch through publicity from the Giraffe Project. Now, we invite you to read more about Patch Adams.
Patch Adams doesn’t look like a doctor. He looks like a clown. He wears clown clothes and has a mustache that curls out from his face. And when he rides his unicycle and juggles, it’s hard to picture him taking care of patients. But Patch Adams is a hardworking doctor who takes care of people who can’t afford health care.
When poor people in the United States get sick, they often just get sicker, or they go to the doctor and then worry a lot about how to pay the bill. Dr. Patch believes that worry is bad for people and that everyone should be able to go to the doctor when they need to. That’s why he ran a free medical clinic in Arlington, Virginia for 12 years.
Has anybody ever said “Gesundheit” to you when you sneeze? The German word ‘Gesundheit’ means “good health”. Dr. Patch called his free clinic the “Gesundheit Institute”, because the name made people laugh, and he believes laughter is good for people’s health.
Patch and another Gesundheit doctor worked nights in local hospital emergency rooms to earn the money to pay for the clinic. During those 12 years, Gesundheit took care of 15,000 patients.
Now Patch Adams is building a new dream. The Gesundheit Center will have a hospital, craft and exercise rooms, houses and gardens. It will all be free. To pay for the new centre, Patch puts on his clown outfits and does a “Medicine Show”, teaching people how to stay healthy. He performs all over the country in medical schools, hospitals, and anywhere people gather to learn.
What he’s doing is not always popular with other doctors. Some are embarassed because Patch is “undignified”. A few want to make as much money as possible; when Patch says money isn’t important, they get angry. “We’re giving away the most expensive thing in America,” Patch says, “We are a pie in the face of greed.”
To learn more about Patch Adams and other Giraffes, visit the Giraffe Project’s Webpage at http://www.giraffe.org. To learn about how to include the Giraffe Project’s curriculum designed for kids from kindergarten through secondary school, in your school or youth group, call Carl Dortch at 442-2491.
Director, Lolita’s Legion url:http://www.geocities.com/rainforest/canopy/8126 email: lkitto@wkpowerlink.com

BMX Provincial Race Results
Two races within the Provincial Series of BMX racing were held at the local Grand Forks BMX Track over the weekend. There was 95 competitors on Saturday and 101 on Sunday from across the province including riders from Vancouver, Surrey, Prince George, Princeton, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. The age classes ranged from 5 to over 45. Even with rain delays on Saturday, the Grand Forks track and its volunteers received many favourable and positive compliments.
Only riders holding CBA licences could participate in these Provincial races. Although our local track has over 50 members, we had 12 riders able to compete in the Provincial Series with the following results:
Two races within the Provincial Series of BMX racing were held at the local Grand Forks BMX Track over the weekend. There was 95 competitors on Saturday and 101 on Sunday from across the province including riders from Vancouver, Surrey, Prince George, Princeton, Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos. The age classes ranged from 5 to over 45. Even with rain delays on Saturday, the Grand Forks track and its volunteers received many favourable and positive compliments.
Only riders holding CBA licences could participate in these Provincial races. Although our local track has over 50 members, we had 12 riders able to compete in the Provincial Series with the following results:

Fall Fair
Confused about our saying the Fall Fair is a one-day affair and now seeing advertising for Sept. 10 and 11? On Friday, Sept. 10th we will be having a BBQ and a jam session by Rusty Buckle on the lawn beside the residence at Broadacres. Also Castle Amusements will have their midway set up. There is NO ADMISSION charge for this evening of entertainment.
Saturday morning we open gates bright and early at 8 a.m.. Opening ceremonies and a pancake breakfast kick-off a day full of events.
There will be entertainment, the Midway Bingo throughout the day. Also, we will feature at various times a house show, dog demonstrations, petting zoos, kids’ pet parade and games.
We still need some help, anyone willing to co-ordinate a horse-shoe tournament, a fun baby show, or maybe you have a show idea. There is still time to schedule it in. We could use more food booths. Ethnic would be great.
A tea is planned to honour our local seniors, in keeping with the ‘year of the older persons’. This will be held in the residence at Broadacres on Sat. at 2 p.m.. All seniors 60+ are invited. We would like to especially honour those seniors who have been instrumental in fairs in years past, be it they worked as volunteers, judges, managers and even entered exhibits year after year. Submit your names to Irene Perepalkin at 442-3817 as soon as possible.
We will have lots of free parking in designated areas. We discourage any parking on Carson Road because of hazard. Admission for Saturday will be $5/adult, $3/seniors and students. Children 6 and under are free.
Come out and support your local fair and have a fun-filled day. We may even close the day at 8 p.m. with fireworks!

“Voluntary Subscription”
We have had a few inquiries about our “voluntary subscription”. It seems there is a bit of confusion about this kind of thing, so here is the scoop: Most regular newspapers you can buy at the newsstands cost anywhere between 75¢ and a couple of Dollars. That amount, paid by X number of buyers, will (hopefully) cover some or all of the cost for printing said papers. Some of the cost for printing and producing the paper, such as wages for newspeople, photographers, secretaries, managers, etc. as well as the overhead, equipment rentals and so on will (hopefully) be covered by the advertising. In other words, the reason why you can read your local (or any) news for only the amount of pocket change, is because there are businesses out there that support that paper with paid advertising. In return, they hope that you read the paper and hopefully their ad and maybe use their services. A free publication, as in the case of the OpenMinder, relies entirely on the support of businesses paying for their advertising for covering any and all costs involved in the publishing of that paper. To fill the subscriptions you would have to print more issues and cover the cost of postage as well. There are 3 ways to cover extra costs: 1) by charging more for the advertising, 2) by filling the page with more advertising and/or 3) by charging for a “Voluntary Subscription”. Since we are a free paper you don’t have to pay to get it, the subscription is voluntary. So, if you are a ‘non-business’ person and like what you read and think this is something you would like to support, you can do so by buying a “Voluntary Subscription”, which will ensure that you receive your copy of the OpenMinder in an envelope in the mail. This way you will be supporting the high percentage of reading material as opposed to high content of advertisements.
To get your “Voluntary Subscription” call us at
442-3731 or email bgraphic@sunshinecable.com or mail us at OpenMinder c/o S-320,
C-17, RR#1 Grand Forks V0H 1H0

The Boundary
Country Bluegrass Festival

This year’s rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those attending this year’s festival. Sunday’s gospel singing and the “open mike” were spared the showers as was the Pig Roast on Saturday.