A Field Trip to Cascade Recycling Center

This week the Nomads took another edu-taining field trip, this time to Cascade Recycling Center in Woodenville, WA.  Cascade is Waste Management’s sorting facility, where the contents of many Seattle recycling bins go.  The facility operates 20 hours a day, which means they sort over 150,000 tons of material a year!

10,000 of these, for those of you on the metric system.

Three things determine whether or not something is recyclable:

- The Material it’s made of
- Its Sortability
- What kind of Markets exist for it (changing markets are essentially the reason “what is recyclable” changes so often)

The materials are sorted in this order:

Pre-sorting: Here they remove un-recyclable materials like wires, phone books, black plastic bags, scrap metal, and pants.  Yes, we saw them take out some pants.

“Ooh, corduroy!”

Paper: Large rotary wheels separate 2-dimensional paper and cardboard from 3-dimensional items like cans and bottles.  Then a “paper magnet,” basically a spiky suction device, picks up the pieces.

Pictured somewhere on the left here: the paper magnet.

Glass: Glass is smashed and vacuumed clean.  This leaves a lot of labels still on the bottles, but those burn off when the glass is re-melted.

There’s some glass in there somewhere.

Magnetic metals, such as tin: Magnets, need we say more?

Plastics: These are sorted by hand, oh and also by frickin’ lasers.  They shoot a laser capable of identifying polyethylene terephthalate, the common plastic indicated by the number “1″ inside the recycling symbol, at the conveyor belt, then use a puff of air to shoot the correct items into a bin.

Oh.  My.  God.

Aluminum: Since aluminum is not magnetic, they use a “reverse magnet” to repel the cans and such off the conveyor belt.

Like this, but opposite.

Then they run anything left over through the system again, which is why they have a 95% recycling rate.

The materials are then bundled and sold to various recycling plants.

As Willustrated here.

What a fantastic time we had learning about recycling!  Where shall we go next?

First Time Coworking Memories

A few months back, Cohere in Fort Collins, CO asked its members to remember their first time coworking and wrote a fun blog post on their feedback. We here at Office Nomads were inspired and curious to see what our own members would say about their first time coworking. It should have been a memorable experience, right? We were hoping to hear that it was the best first date anyone had had. A beautiful start to a meaningful and wonderful relationship. Turns out, most people did feel that way.

All respondents were really happy that they had joined Office Nomads, many saying they wish it had happened to them sooner. For most, it was their first foray into coworking. “I love the community aspect of coworking and I find that I am much more productive in a laid back “office” environment than I am simply working from home,” John said.

Dana, self diagnosed with BSOS (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome), said, “I realized that the ability to sit down at a wide, clean ON desk is priceless.” With a number of distractions at home, Dana and others noted an increase in productivity while at ON.

While getting work done was important, most folks noted the community as making a huge impression. Georges loved the immediate vibe. “It feels kind of good to start seeing common faces in coworkers.” Michael said he loved how positive and friendly it was.

Veena said, “I felt intimidated actually. I’m naturally shy and I really felt it being the new person in a room full of people who seemingly knew each other.”

Veena had a great home office but her husband encouraged her to try Office Nomads. “I don’t remember too much (of my first day) except noting that Jacob and Susan were very welcoming. After a couple days as a member, I sprained my ankle. I didn’t come to Office Nomads for a few weeks. When I did return, everyone wanted to know why I didn’t come in for a long time! That’s when I realized how awesome the Office Nomads community was.”

Often when people start, they are intimidated by being in a new space and unsure of what is shared and not. Andy had a good laugh remembering his first time at Office Nomads. “My favorite memory was taking a few days to realize that dishes were, in fact, a shared resource. I remember using a glass for a drink and actually saying something to Jacob like, ‘I borrowed a glass from someone but I’ll be sure to wash it!’”

So, we asked, is there anything you wish you’d known before you tried coworking?

“How attractive ON members are?” was the most brilliant response. Apparently someone thinks we’re a good looking bunch, thankyouverymuch.

Veena was thrilled to learn that it wasn’t just for techies. “There were brown bag lunches and happy hours. And that I’d meet really interesting people. These are all things that would have made me join much sooner.”

John just joined and is excited to meet all the Nomads and have a space to grow his new law firm. Dana, too, loves being around folks who work in fields different from her own and find a trip for a fresh cup of coffee to be a great time to meet someone new. One Nomad suggested new members attend the happy hours. “Who knows what joint projects or even companies will result. In the meantime, I’m getting work done, I’m happy because I’m part of a community and I have someplace to go when I need it.”

Sounds perfect to us.

First Glimpses: The first floor!

It is exciting times at Office Nomads these days as we prepare to expand our coworking operation onto the first floor of our building! If this is news to you, please let me direct you to our formal announcement on the matter. It’s worth watching.

And now, for a few little glimpses into the wonderful world that is the first floor. We are so excited to get started making changes & improvements, and waving our magic “Office Nomads style” wand around down there.

Desk in “first floor preparation” mode.

Hey pretty window! Thanks for letting in all that nice light!

Jacob in his happy place.

This wall is not long for this world. Walls are best when they’re knocked down.

More photos to come as the space changes and develops. Better yet, swing by sometime and we’ll be more than happy to give you a tour!

A Field Trip to Cedar Grove Composting Facility

Last Wednesday a cadre of Nomads took a trip to Cedar Grove, the family-owned composting facility in Everett that handles the yard and food waste from King and Snohomish counties. When you put your coffee grounds, chopsticks, eggshells, orange peels, leftover Pud Thai, sandwiches, bonsai trees, and approved food packaging into the green compost bins at Office Nomads, this is where it ends up!

Hey! Don’t eat that!

They use a 3-phase Gore system (as in Gore-Tex, the company that makes the breathable covers for the composting piles) to turn organic urban waste into various garden soils and mulches.  In fact, theirs is the largest Gore system in the world!  It turns out over 400,000 tons of rich, fertile goodness every year.

And this bald eagle owns all of it.

The first phase grinds and sorts the waste into pieces no bigger than 4 inches.  Then it is churned in with wood chips, which are important to balance out the abundance of green yard waste they receive.  “Green” materials contain lots of nitrogen, while “brown” materials like wood have lots of carbon.  Getting the right balance is critical to making good compost.  Then, they use front-loaders to move the compost into long piles, which are aerated and sprayed with just the right amount of water for decomposition.  The next phase continues this, and the final one involves “curing,” i.e. letting the compost rest until it naturally darkens in color.

Conveyor system moving the compost from intake to Stage 1.

A long pile of compost in Stage 2

Their “recipes” for nitrogen and carbon (green and brown organic waste, respectively) ratios vary throughout the year in order to produce a uniform final product.  For example, they have a grass recipe, a pumpkin recipe, and a Christmas tree recipe, depending on what they’re getting seasonally from consumers.  They also modify the recipes with nutrients such as manure and loam to make the different products they sell to gardeners and landscapers.

Vesting up for safety

We were able to walk right up to the giant rows of compost to see and feel the various stages of decomposition.  Most were under their Gore-Tex covers, but in the final stage they are out in the open air.  We were able to touch them to feel how hot they get–the composting organic material naturally heats up to about 175 degrees!  This hot composting action works even in the dead of winter.

Veena feels the warmth

On a sad note, there were pieces of shredded plastic visible in all the piles. While they have a system to remove most of the plastic and metal that gets tossed in with the organic waste, seeing the plastic bags all piled in tall heaps was enough to make any Italian-actor-playing-a-Native-American-chief cry.  It might not seem like a big deal to toss a bag closure in with the spinach, but it adds up fast–and the result is pretty upsetting.  They can’t even sell some of their compost anymore because of all the plastic.

Huge magnet they use to remove metal

But encouragingly, everyone we met was super sweet, optimistic, and very passionate about composting. It was such a nerdy good time that we’d love to organize more field trips in the future.  Next up, we’re going to see if we can visit the recycling center to learn how that magic happens.  Onward to more adventures!

Introducing the Nomad-in-Residence Program

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We are testing out a pilot program to bring new Resident members to our coworking space on Capitol Hill. The Nomad-in-Residence Program offers Resident membership at half the cost to an individual who believes that coworking could greatly benefit their work, and who is interested in contributing their knowledge and skills to the members of Office Nomads. We are able to offer this membership at half price because the rest of the membership is funded by current Office Nomads members.

It’s a unique program, and we’re just getting started to see if we can make it work! If you are looking to join a coworking space but have held off for any reason (including finances), please fill out our brief form and let us know why you think you’d be a great fit as the Nomad-in-Residence. The Nomad-in-Residence term lasts 3 months, and is only open to one new Resident at

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a time.

We’re keeping the form open until July 15, 2012, and would like the Nomad-in-Residence to begin their membership starting August 1, 2012.

Questions? Please email susan@officenomads.com.

Favorite Things: Dogs

“Dogs!” – Erika

Introducing: Advocate membership

After listening to to the Nomad community and reviewing the Office Nomads membership levels, we are excited to announce the introduction of the Advocate membership.  The idea is simple: provide an easy, low-cost way to be supported by and participate in the Office Nomads community.

Advocate membership is $30/month and includes one visit per month as well as all the usual perks of an Office Nomads membership. What this means is that you will be able to participate in the Office Nomads mailing list, attend any of the community events in the space, and you can proclaim from the mountain tops that you are a Nomad. This is the perfect sort of membership for individuals who are not able to come to Office Nomads regularly but still would like to be connected to our community.

Adjusting our membership offerings in response to community demand is important to us. If you have any thoughts, ideas or questions, please get in touch!

Favorite things: pizza

“Hot Mama’s Pizza

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is on the corner. Can that be one of my favorite things?” – Susan

Photo credit: Trina Gadsden 2012

 

Favorite things: On your terms

“If you’ve taken the leap (or been pushed) out of a supported company-based employment, or work from home for whatever reason, you might miss that office life and culture that is so fun

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and even inspiring. Office Nomads offers it in spades, on your terms.” – Charlie

Photo credit: Trina Gadsden 2012

Favorite Things: Motivation

“I am more motivated when I am surrounded by other people who are also working, and I’m impressed at how focused everyone seems to be.” – Jane

Photo credit:

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Trina Gadsden 2012