Angel City Lumber... emphasis on the angel
It's true, the two fellas of Angel City Lumber, Jeff Perry and Charles DeRosa, have come to the rescue of Would-Works by sharing their space with us. ACL is a lumber yard located in Boyle Heights with a mission of taking downed trees in the city of Los Angeles which otherwise would be mulched and turning them into usable lumber. Their warehouse space is a site to see, with two massive kilns for drying, hundreds of logs, state of the art milling equipment, slab racks and of course the aroma of fresh sawdust. Jeff and Charles have been kind enough to allow Would Works to operate in a corridor in the back of their shop.
Since the inception of Would Works we've operated out of generously donated spaces, none of which, unfortunately, were suitable for woodworking. Most were dark, poorly lit basements on Skid Row. We used folding tables and miles of extension cords to clip lights to reliable power sources. At the new space in Angel City we have work benches, a finishing area, plenty of natural light, ventilation, clean bathrooms and a kitchen space. Not to mention the whole facility is designed for wood! What a change. The Boyle Heights location is also easily accessible to downtown, where most of the artisans reside. There's an empowering feeling of showing up to work in an actual lumber facility.
We all know we are lucky to be there and great care is being taken to always be good shop mates. With thousands of pieces of lumber around it also adds to the learning experience. On our first session we spent a break looking at a stack of freshly cut Canary Island Pine. We were able to study the trees by looking at the growth rings and understand the age of the tree, when there were longer periods of rain or drought, and even see how Jeff was cutting them into dimensional lumber. It really feels full circle working there. The artisans can understand how something goes from a tree to usable lumber and then to a beautiful cutting board or bottle opener that they are making.
There is a great Japanese woodworking adage about honoring the fallen tree by making something well crafted and beautiful out of the lumber. Angel City seems to be committed to this very spirit by honoring both the trees of Los Angeles and its people.
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Winding down this year, we express deep gratitude for your support and engagement with Would Works. 2023 began expansively: WW Community Builders Program Artisans and our team took a field trip to the snow-covered Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the city. Shirley is the Artisan Lead at Would Works and was born and raised in LA. She’s now in her mid-60’s, yet she’s never been up to the Angeles Forest. Our city is surrounded by abundant landscapes, but many residents who face barriers to employment also lack access to experiences in nature. This forest visit reflects the growth trajectory of Would Works, which we illuminate here.