When we launched the Source Awards four years ago, the winners’ bowls lived under my desk at the office for a week before we handed them out at the awards ceremony. They were so very handsome, so tactile (so soft!), so unique – each one just a little different from its mates – that I almost walked off with them. Wanting to keep my job, I thought the better of that impulse.

No money comes with a Source Award. Rather, it is well-deserved recognition for extraordinary accomplishments in a world that badly needs smart, creative solutions to environmental problems, large and small. But the winners also get something more tangible: these hand-turned, locally sourced, locally made wood bowls crafted by Richmond woodworker/artisan Jeff Raymond.

This year, the bowls are far more than pretty objects to me. The wood to make them came from a treasured red maple tree that grew cheek by jowl with my house for a century. It was ailing, so I had it cut down this winter, and suffice it to say, I cried. A lot. My heart still aches, but seeing the tree recycled into beautiful, unembellished bowls that honor meaningful environmental efforts helps to soften the blow.

“This tree, of course, grew under a lot of duress over the years,” Raymond said when I asked him about working with the wood. “A lot of things happened to it. So that’s a lot of interesting features.” The shape and condition of the lumber means that this year’s bowls are a tad smaller than in past years, “but the wood is so spectacular,” he added.

“I used to have an artist statement when I first started,” he continued, referring to a short essay artists often write and hang in galleries to introduce the ideas behind their work on display. “Encountering each piece of wood is no longer an intellectual exercise. It’s on the intuitive level. I just make these cuts. I turn on my lathe, and the world turns around you. It’s the center of my universe.”

On April 4, the evening of our Source Awards ceremony at Pineland Farms, we like to think the world turns around our award winners, whose efforts make Maine, our small piece of the universe, a better place.

— PEGGY GRODINSKY

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