Enjoying a Northern Ontario Summer

One of the best things about living and working in North Bay is that the city seems to naturally attract artists, environmentalists and naturalists. This is common knowledge – so much so that I once read an article in an Australian national newspaper describing the city as a haven for “greenies”. Our reputation is well deserved.

Because of all the kindred spirits and the sense of relaxed community, I’m not at all afraid to let my local customers know that I operate AloeRoot out of my house; this does not detract from the legitimacy of the business in the slightest because the AloeRoot office is an ongoing experiment in environmental sustainability.

I’m proud of the fact that AloeRoot doesn’t generate the kind of product that leaves waste – websites don’t take up any room in landfills. AloeRoot’s office supply consumption is nearly nil. I no longer have to commute to an office, so my car rarely gets driven. The central location of the house means that I can walk to the bank, the post office, the grocery store, and to meet many of my downtown customers.

Having an office in my house has many other, more personal benefits: I’m unabashedly in love with the fact that my wireless LAN allows me to set up my laptop here on sunny days:

I believe that a relaxed office environment contributes greatly to increased productivity. This summer AloeRoot has undertaken a very large server migration project, which has gone incredibly well – I attribute this to the fact that I did a lot of the more difficult work while sitting under a large tree, warmed by the sun and surrounded by rose bushes and chickadees.

In addition to the psychological benefits, working out of a small, energy-efficient house allows me to keep overhead low and to free up funds that would otherwise be spent on office space. This extra cash flow goes into my non-digital passion: developing an environmentally friendly living space.

Since I took up residence here last summer, I’ve added a vegetable garden, composters and clotheslines to the premises. So far this summer, we’ve enjoyed a harvest of rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries and green beans. Tomatoes and zucchini are next. I’m starting to look into the viability of grid-tied solar panelling systems, and I’m looking for a supplier of rain barrels so I can water the garden with captured rainwater.

Douglas Rushkoff wrote an excellent book called Get Back in the Box. The central theme is that businesses should stick with what they’re good at, and they’ll know what they’re good at when the owners are driven by passion and fun. I feel very privileged to enjoy my work, and to love doing it in such a great environment as North Bay.