There’s been a great deal of talk about the economic stimulus package, and specifically about the checks that began arriving in our mailboxes in May. I like to think of Northern Woodlands as an economic stimulus package that arrives four times a year.

First, with our four full-time and two part-time employees, we’re the largest employer in our town of Corinth, Vermont. That may sound laughably small, but in a town of 1,461 that sends most of its workers to towns at least a half-hour away, jobs closer to home are very important. We also play another significant local role: because we do so many mailings at our local Post Office, the branch does enough business to stay open. Believe it or not, Corinth has two post offices. A few years back, our branch was nearly shut down for lack of revenue, which would have been a shame because besides selling stamps, it provides one of the few places in town for people to just bump into each other. Communities need gathering places, and our Post Office is no longer in danger.

Next to payroll, printing is our next largest expense, and we do in excess of $100,000 worth of business with our printer in a year. It’s important to us that we spend our money as locally as we can, so we print the magazine in Hanover, New Hampshire, just 35 minutes away. In the grand scheme of things, our quarterly printing job is relatively small potatoes to Dartmouth Printing, but our steady business contributes to cash flow, helps keep those folks employed, and also pays for paper.

Magazine printers try to stock few selections of paper and buy them in large quantities, and then encourage publishers to use those designated papers by making the pricing attractive. We could choose one of these and we might save a few bucks, but we don’t because we have three requirements: the paper must come from a paper mill in New England or New York, it has to contain recycled material, and the mill needs to guarantee that the wood is certified.

The paper we use is produced at mills in Maine. The cover stock comes from the Sappi mill in Skowhegan, and the lighter-weight inside paper comes from the NewPage mill in Rumford. Both mills have triple chain of custody certification, meaning they’re certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In each case, the paper contains at least 10 percent post-consumer waste. It’s important to us that our paper comes from wood that is harvested in our region, because it puts money in the pockets of local loggers, truckers, foresters, and landowners. If you’ve harvested trees and sold them as pulpwood, it’s possible that your trees – in a mix with 10 percent recycled paper, because we’re committed to conserving resources, too – have ended up in the pages of Northern Woodlands.

The late Marshall McLuhan probably doesn’t need me to help prove him right, but certainly in this case, the medium is the message. Our message of stewardship to 15,000 subscribers is presented through a medium of paper that comes directly from our forests. Our subscribers own and manage millions of acres of forestland, and we do everything we can to encourage them – even stimulate them – to keep these forests economically productive and ecologically intact.

The magnificent forest that envelops us is inevitably a daily part of all of our lives – we cannot set foot outside without being in the woods or having a view of them. The forest is our livelihood. It is also our home. When that check comes in from the IRS, maybe it will remind you of the work Northern Woodlands does to stimulate the rural economy, not just in our home town, but in yours as well.

 
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