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The Silent Crisis

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With the decline in availability of natural resources, there is no question that the world is reaching a tipping point. A time when the availability of fossil fuels or natural gasses approaches terminal velocity. A time when there is no turning back. No researching of the alternatives or energy for the impending conversion. This crisis is no secret though, and spoken about at length lending some hope that solutions will be arrived at.

It's the silent crisis amongst us that is a lot more troubling. The real threat to our society which looms with gnashing teeth above all of us, just waiting to sink them into the soft and tender flesh of our social fabric and shredding it like a young pitbull's chew toy. Yes, I'm talking about the shortage of reclaimed wood.

"It's not pretty out there" says San francisco's Outerlands restaurant owner Blaine Potmice. "There's an empty gas station across the street we would love to turn into a cafe, but with the price of reclaimed wood these days, it's just not feasible..." He pauses thoughtfully before solemnly adding, "What can I say, there's no other words for it but sad....and scary."


What began as a simple solution to counter expensive building supplies has ironically turned into the problem itself. All across America's urban centers, the bedraggled hoi polloi have gathered around the comforting aura of reclaimed wood. Be it the countertops they receive their caffeinated creations on or the shelving that holds their vintage surf photographic books and hand-screened trucker caps.

Reusing wood is nothing new, but as a viable trend and wholesale vibe for an entire generation's interiors, we can look no furthur than Mollusk Surf Shop -- also located in San Francisco's aptly named Reclaimed Wood District, RecWo for short -- for this trend's humble beginnings.

"I thought we were just building a nice affordable interior that reflected our love of the sea-worn 'hutacillios' that dot Baja California's beacheside" states Mollusk owner Spencer Sumerhador. "I never imagined we'd kickstart an entire movement." When asked how he feels about the trend -- and resulting shortage -- Spencer answers with calculated thought, "Honestly, I just wish I could find some usable wood."

The problem is simple, people just aren't weathering wood like they used to. With stronger finishes and more permanent building techniques, the worn, hand-painted, barn-side advertisement or farmhouse flooring of yesteryear no longer exist. Alternative materials are being used in their place, but their ability to transform a barren space into an endogenous hearth welcoming of woolen-clad patrons whilst simultaneously showcasing artisanal delectabilities is unparalleled.

"Yes, I've tried these alternatives" says a Williamsburg cafe entrepreneur who wishes to remain anonymous, "But reclaimed Linoleum? Reclaimed cement? How do I expect others to enjoy a single-origin half-pull in such an incommodious space when I know that I myself could never?"

As of now, there is no solution. With more and more establishments recognizing the hypnotic, hipster-draw of reclaimed wood, they will go to no ends to procure it. Until the day we find an acceptable alternative, there will be no relief. That doesn't mean all hope is lost as recycled glass tiles are showing much promise, but we still have a long way to go until we are out of the (reclaimed) woods.