Saturday, April 22, 2006

The world's only diamond willow headboard maker

When Dad, who lives in northern Minnesota, was 79, a stranger stopped and asked him if there were any diamond willows growing in the area.

Dad didn't know. He had never heard of diamond willows. The man showed Dad some beautiful walking sticks he had made out of diamond willows.

Dad researched diamond willows on the Internet and then went looking for them. He discovered lots of diamond willows near our farm. "I've probably been walking by them since I was five years old and never knew they were there," he says.

Now Dad is 82, a man with his own diamond willow business and website, Foss Diamond Willows, and someone who is having more fun working than ever before. In fact, recently he told me, "Life begins at 80."

While I've been launching Evergreen Leaders, discovering how to create a nonprofit that can help other nonprofits thrive, Dad has been discovering how to create a thriving business.

When the board and I launched Evergreen Leaders we focused on developing leadership workshops for nonprofit staff. Recently we have added strategic planning and fund raising consulting services in addition to the workshops.

Dad began making diamond willow walking sticks and lamps and marketing them at craft shows. But he kept looking for bigger ticket items that he could make from diamond willows.

After he made a diamond willow bed a couple of people suggested that he make diamond willow headboards. When a customer happily paid $500 for a diamond willow headboard, that got Dad's attention.

Now he has created diamond willow headboards for every size of bed. As he's shown them to customers he's dicovered that his customers see the diamond willow headboards as a perfect addition to their lake homes.

I'm proud of my Dad--the world's first maker of diamond willow headboards.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A thousand mouths

This week I wrote a poem for the Easter sun rise service Erin Kindy and I lead this morning.

Here's a bit of background on the poem. This week the Plow Creek farmers planted strawberries. They order the plants from a distributor in Indiana who purchases them from a grower in California. The plants are refrigerated until it's time to plant them.

We sell a lot of strawberries each June. Last year Kevin Behrens, who does our marketing, said that by the end of the season he felt like he was pushing tons strawberries into people.

Of course, the poem has several Biblical allusions as well. Erin and I used Jesus' metaphor about his death and resurrection in the call to worship:

I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

In the last part of the poem I use the metaphor of tasting drawn the phrase in the psalm, "taste and see that the Lord is good."

A Thousand Mouths
By Rich Foss

Tender Plow Creek hands
lifted little green shoots
from a refrigerator this holy week,
hands like those of a rich man from Aramathia
tenderly wrapping a body
and hefting it into a rocky tomb.

Ah, the grief of a single grain of wheat
clinging to life.

Hand and machine ripped open the field--
now strawberry shoots dwell
in Plow Creek soil,
roots caressed by earth.

A body housed in hewn rock,
lifeless, breathless,
three days of stillness
before the startle.

June is coming when earth and plant
fling tons of strawberries into the air,
succulent to a thousand mouths.

He is risen,
tasting with a thousand generations
the raw goodness of resurrection.