In the Know: Andi Rose reduces pollution, handmade items made from recyclables

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Dec 042012
 

Author: Logan Martinez

Andi Rose, resourceress of Blue Sky Above was inspired to start creating products out of recyclables like bike tubes and vinyl records.

Andi Rose, resourceress of Blue Sky Above was inspired to start creating products out of recyclables like bike tubes and vinyl records. Photo Courtesy of Andi Rose

Three years ago, Andi Rose was inspired by the Colorado sunshine and a pile of junk to start making beauty out of what would otherwise have been considered trash. That inspiration led her to become the “resourceress” and owner of Blue Sky Above.

How did you start Blue Sky Above?

I was inspired by what most people consider junk. I see things like scratched vinyl records, bike tubes, scraps of wood and beer cans as blank canvases.

What is the meaning behind the name?

Blue Sky Above is a tribute to the 300 days of sunshine we have here in the great state of Colorado. It’s also a commitment to keeping our sky blue by reducing pollution, using what already exists and creating things out of what would otherwise be considered trash.

Andi Rose crafts cuff bracelets from vinyl records. Photo Courtesy of Andi Rose

Andi Rose crafts cuff bracelets from vinyl records. Photo Courtesy of Andi Rose

What is Blue Sky Above’s mission? 

With a serious appreciation for our handsome Colorado environment, it’s our mission to be creative while being mindful in preserving – and sometimes shakin’ – what our mamas gave us.

How did you come up with your products?

By excess. Believe me, I’m not one to shy away from consumerism – shoes are my weakness – but a lot of consumerism is based on virgin materials and overseas production. I’m not perfect, there are materials used in Blue Sky Above created items that come from overseas – no escaping it – but I source 75 percent or more of materials used to make items from what would otherwise be trash.

What do you enjoy about making your products from recyclables?

I love that each item turns out a little different. It makes items just as unique as the people sporting them and is indicative of handmade. I also love the process. When I come across a material that I like and that there’s a lot of, I study it, like any artist would a subject. I deconstruct it, and push the limits of what keeps it together as a substance to learn what does and doesn’t work.

Instead of throwing out old bike tubes, Rose cuts them up and creates necklaces and bracelets. Photo Courtesy of Andi Rose

Instead of throwing out old bike tubes, Rose cuts them up and creates necklaces and bracelets. Photo Courtesy of Andi Rose

What is your favorite product? Why?

It depends on the context. My favorite to make is record cuffs. They require so many steps and are very rewarding when done. My favorite to wear is the bike tube flower necklace. I have never not received compliments when wearing mine.

What do you have in mind for the future of Blue Sky Above?

That’s a good question. Blue Sky Above is so small right now that it’s super nimble, and could swerve in several directions without taking a bunch of employees on a wild ride. There’s no doubt I’d like to keep fostering and growing it, as has been done in the past three years, but not at the expense of the mission. A specific goal for this year is to start working on distribution outside of Colorado.

For the holidays Rose makes what she calls "Beer Angels" from recycled New Belgium beer cans. Photo courtesy of Andi Rose

For the holidays Rose makes what she calls “Beer Angels” from recycled New Belgium beer cans. Photo courtesy of Andi Rose

What are you making for this holiday season that is different from your normal products?

Beer angels! Made from local brewery six packs and more, beer angels are the perfect way to gift beer lovers in your life.

What is your favorite part about the holidays?

Being able to see your breath while the is sun shining, the lights hanging from trees in Old Town, the extra steps you have to take in preparation to go outside (coats, mittens, hats), coming out of a warm yoga class to the cold night, red and white stripes together, hearing bells every time you walk in and out of a grocery store, people spending a little more money on handmade items to gift to others, a sense of community, leftover turkey sandwiches, and a chance for rebirth with the start of a new year.

 Are you having any holiday promotions?

Yes. If you go to the http://blueskyabove.com/shop/, and then check out through Etsy, you can enter the coupon code GORAMS to receive 20% off from now until December 31st.

Products created by Rose can be found in local shops like Kansas City Kitty and New Belgium Brewing Co., or online at www.blueskyabove.com.

In The Know: An inside look at Beavers Supermarket

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Oct 162012
 

Author: John Sheesley

Two bicyclists ride by Beavers Supermarket on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Shields Street. Photo by John Sheesley.

Don Beaver opened a small, locally-owned grocery store called Beavers Supermarket in Fairmont, Nebraska in 1946. His son, Doug, began working there before and after school in 1960 when he was just 8 years old.

“I remember the railroad bums would come by on the railroad, and I would have to go down in the basement and help work with them and that always kind of scared me; I was just a little kid. We had to sack our own potatoes and handle our own eggs and all that,” Doug Beaver said.

Fifteen years later, Doug and his wife Cheryl would open their own Beavers Supermarket in Grand Junction in 1975. Soon after, however, Doug had an opportunity to buy a store in Fort Collins and moved to their present location on the northwest corner of Mountain Avenue and Shields Street in 1976.

“The neighborhood, mostly Mountain [Avenue] here, has changed — the area has upgraded to a higher class of people, you might say, over the years,” Beaver said. “The general store has stayed the same. As far as some of the products we carry, we’ve changed to carry more of the higher end of things. Organic is a bigger deal now, of course that wasn’t even around back then.”

According to Beaver, the most difficult thing about running his supermarket for the last 36 years has been competing with the large supermarket chains.

The fresh produce counter at Beavers Supermarket. Photo by John Sheesley

The fresh produce counter at Beavers Supermarket. Photo by John Sheesley.

“I’m competing with a store that’s how many times bigger than me and I just can’t carry everything they can,” Beaver said. “I just can’t carry everything they do, so people have to go other places at times for certain things; nothing I can do about that.”

Beaver has been creative about managing expenses and space to keep his prices low enough to attract savvy shoppers away from the large chain grocery stores, while providing a large selection of goods.

“Our warehouse is a co-op, so its owner owned, and we’re actually one of the owners,” Beaver said. “They’re big, they do over $1 billion worth a year in sales and they’re in a lot of states so we’re with a big supplier, as big as [the chain stores] are in terms of actual warehouse space. Customers can get most anything they want and be in and out fast.”

He counts on a loyal customer base coupled with neighborly service to keep Beavers Supermarket in business.

“There are some [customers] that are five generations, and have been coming here as they grew up,” Beaver said. “We’re local; I think a lot of people like that — the atmosphere of the smaller store, a lot of people like that. We have, counting [Cheryl and I], 15 employees right now.”

Former CSU student Brenton Noon at the Beavers Supermarket meat counter. Photo by John Sheesley.

Former CSU student Brenton Noon at  Beavers Supermarket’s meat counter. Photo by John Sheesley.

Former CSU student Brenton Noon has been an employee of Beavers Supermarket for seven years now.

“It was my part-time college job,” Noon said. “We try to get some students in here, as far as the employees go. Every now-and-then, we’ll cycle some in and out; it’s been good work for me, and students, that’s pretty much a huge thing for us. We get a lot busier when school get back in session, no doubt about it.”

Noon works the meat counter, calling regular shoppers by name and helping to find the perfect cut of meat. The supermarket employs a full time butcher and carries USDA choice cuts and 10 flavors of their very own homemade sausage.

“Our meat here, and the fact that we make all of our sausage here, and things like that, that helps give us a unique edge, and that’s the sort of special thing; local products and a local store — people want to support that.” Noon said. “It’s definitely that kind of community store, the kind of a place where a lot of the customers that come here, come here five times a day. This is their cupboard and their refrigerator; they just come and get what they need, then go home and come back later on in the day.”

A sign hanging in Beavers Supermarket. Photo by John Sheesley.

A sign hanging in Beavers Supermarket. Photo by John Sheesley.

According to Beaver, the most rewarding part about owning his supermarket has been the people he has gotten to know over the years.

“The customers — working with them and the employees both — you get to know them, you’ve been around for years and you know them by name. It’s home, they’re like family,” Beaver said.

In the Know: Kelly Turner, fashion entrepreneur

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Oct 162012
 

Author: Nicolle Fagan

What is your major?
“I am an art major concentrating in photography, and I have a minor in apparel and merchandising.”

So you are designing your own clothing line! What does that entail?
“In starting this line, I have spent a lot of time designing and working to create styles that I believe people will love and wear. It takes a lot of time planning. I have to start with the basics and work my way up to the fun part: the clothing release.”

What have you made so far? 
“To start off, I have designed t-shirts, hoodies and stickers, but I plan to create more and to go further with this project in the future. They aren’t ready yet, but will be coming soon!”

What was the inspiration for the line?
“I am a snowboard instructor and every week I go back and forth to the mountains. I wanted something comfortable for riding to keep warm and also something cozy for the 4 a.m. drive every Saturday, so I began sewing my own hoodies. Eventually, people saw them and started putting in orders. After a few months, I decided to create my own company to feature skateboard and snowboard apparel, inspired by the lifestyle and culture of the sports. I am inspired by my friends, family and the new people I meet and I hope to inspire them through this company with my art and designs.”

Does the line have a name yet? If so, what is it? 
“The name of the company is Lleky Apparel, pronounced leh-key. It is actually my name mixed up.”

What do you hope to gain from making your own line? Why did you choose to take on this huge undertaking?
“I am already learning so much from it and I’m still at the beginning of the process. I have a lot of work to do, but I plan to do it right. This is something I wanted to take on to incorporate my three favorite things: photography, fashion and skate/snowboarding. I want to design, capture local athletes and get artists involved with the apparel line.”

What got you interested in fashion?
“As a photographer, I have always had an interest in fashion, but I didn’t always know specifically what kind of fashion. During my second semester of college, I added my apparel and merchandising minor and I was so excited. I was constantly inspired by the classes to start my own company and now it’s all falling into place.”

What is your favorite piece so far?
“My favorite piece right now is a men’s tee I designed. It’s simple, but I can’t seem to get away from it.”

If you could only wear one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“If I could wear one thing for the rest of my life it would be my snowboard get up, just as long as there was snow, sunshine and a mountain to ride on.”

In the Know: Greta Lohman Birch, Lory State Park soil study

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Sep 182012
 

Author: Kristin Hall

What kind of understanding do you hope to gain from this project?
“One of the goals of this project is to increase our understanding of soil processes and the mechanisms that drive several of the post-fire conditions we observe, as well as to begin to understand biochar/soil interactions in post-fire environments.  From the land management perspective, the goal is that biochar and/or natural char proves to be an effective means of restoring soil productivity, providing public land managers as well as home owners an additional option for post-fire land restoration treatments … Biochar is a charcoal-like by-product of converting biomass into biofuels. Thus, it ties into the bioenergy component of my studies as a means to utilize the expansive amount of woody biomass we have in Colorado, potentially using the beetle-kill or overcrowded biomass to create both bioenergy as well as biochar, which can then be used as a soil amendment.”
What is your role at CSU? 
“I am a Ph.D. student in Soil and Crop Sciences, and I am currently funded by a (National Science Foundation) grant through the (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program here at CSU.  The focus of the CSU IGERT program is a multidisciplinary approach to sustainable bioenergy.”
What is your project’s relationship with Lory State Park?
“After the High Park Fire I contacted various state agencies in the hopes of establishing a project focused on soil restoration of public lands that had been affected by the fire.  The Forest and Park Managers at LSP were very open and receptive to collaborating, and, after visiting various sites around the park, we were able to establish a study site.”
What inspired you to take on this project?
“I suppose I’ve always been interested in wildfires and the ecological impacts posed by severe fires.  I grew up in the urban-wildland interface in the foothills outside of Denver, and I remember the environmental, social and economic challenges that our communities experienced as a result of wildfires.”
What are some of the biggest challenges you expect to face working on this project?
“The Colorado Parks and Wildlife and park rangers at LSP have been very helpful, so I don’t anticipate many logistical challenges.  However, as is the case with any study, one worries about the outcome.  There are many variables to consider, and this is a fairly untested restoration technique, so one challenge is to ensure that we account for as many unseen variables as possible during the design and implementation process.”
How long do you see the project taking?
“I anticipate the last data collection occurring in the fall of 2014, so about two plus years.”
What are you most proud of about being a CSU student? 
“I’m really proud to be part of such a great community. I am continually impressed by both students and faculty in terms of their academic engagement and integrity, as well as just the general kindness and compassion I see on campus.”