San Francisco Bay Guardian

  • San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • January 9, 2008
  • How Paul Donald went from graphic designer to green retailer extraordinaire

Paul Donald, the founder of sustainable online retailer Branch Homes, agrees to meet me at Mission Beach Cafe. He arrives dressed in a black turtleneck sweater and smart bluish purple rimmed glasses and takes a seat at the wooden table where I'm sitting. At one point during our conversation I accidentally make a big black ink smudge on the tabletop.

"It's heavily varnished, and we've got some toxic industrial cleaners that will take care of that," he says dryly.

This is clearly a joke, as everything about Branch and Donald is the polar opposite of varnished and toxic. In fact, the San Francisco company only carries ecofriendly, fair trade, and organic objects, clothing, and furniture, with an emphasis on local and national designers (though it has products from all over the world).

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SF Bay Guardian
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • December 4, 2007
  • I'm dreaming of a green Christmas: A guide to ecofriendly gifts

In the words of Rev. Billy, mock evangelist and star of the newly released documentary What Would Jesus Buy?, the dreaded "shopocalypse" is upon us. If he and his Choir of Stop Shopping had their way, we would all be blissfully exchanging simple gestures of peace and love for the holidays rather than heaps of overly packaged plastic stuff.

But if you already know deep in your gut that peace and love just aren't going to cut it for your demanding sweetheart, whining child, or needy pet, procuring green gifts from local Bay Area shops is the next best thing. Consult this well-edited list to help you navigate the buying frenzy, thrill your giftees, and sidestep some of the residual guilt.

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  • San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • August 8, 2007
  • Working for play: The art and architecture of building forts for a living

Who says you have to leave the days of building forts and wearing play clothes behind just because it's time to "grow up" and get a "real job"? Not Barbara Butler, play professional.

The Bay Area artist makes her living building fanciful castles, pirate ships, and tree houses for kids all over the world. And she says her work is just as much fun for her as the results are for her clients. Plus: her office wear? Faded jeans, hiking boots, and a purple T-shirt that says, "Go Outside."

So how exactly does someone end up designing miniature lighthouses and two-story play sets as a career?

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