Cory Thornton

Cory's project of building a cabin all started by building treehouses out of materials farmers threw away with his friends.

Describe who you were as a kid? From what I can remember, I was a bit of a shy boy.  I was never one to stand out from the crowd... just went with the flow.  I think I get that from my mom.  I enjoyed playing sports: baseball, basketball, motocross, skateboarding were a few to name. At a young age, I also acquired a love for music. But, some of the bands I listened to are just a little too embarrassing to list. Ok, fine.. my first cd was All 4 One. 

What was your first job? My first job was Subway/TCBY in Atlantic, IA. You could really say, I had no choice... my parents owned the place. Looking back, I'd say it was the perfect first job.  Though I hated it, at the time, it taught me cleanliness, customer service, and speed.  All of which, would prove to be great skills to have, as an adult! 

Walk us through your journey to starting your own thing. It is really, quite simple.  I saw a flaw in our system.  What really happens to urban trees following their removal? Well.. they usually go to a place that doesn't utilize their potential.  As a carpenter and lover of trees, I find that to be a huuuge waste.  I would love to be a local carpenter, building things with local lumber, milled by a local Sawyer, that comes from local tree harvesters!

And so you’re building a cabin! Talk to us about the progress and behind the scenes of this project. Yes! I'm building a cabin! It all started when we were kids...  My friends and I had our fun, by building treehouses out of materials farmers threw away. As I got older, I realized how much I missed doing this. So, here I am! The cabin is   comprised much of scrap material we throw away at work as well as lumber I mill myself.  She's (the cabin) nearly dried in and soon I can start on the interior! Been a real task, but I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would! 

"It is really, quite simple.  I saw a flaw in our system."

Along the way, who and what helped you keep pushing forward?  My family. A very important group of people in my life. Love ya guys! Don't know what I'd do without ya..

Someone is starting a project for the first time. What would you tell them?  I would tell them to set small goals.  It is easier to see progress if you are achieving your goals more frequently. I would also tell them;  envision, build, make mistakes, evolve, have fun and above all... finish what you started!

What have been some things you wish you would’ve have finished that you started? There are actually quite a few things I wish I would have finished.  I am kind of known to start things and not pursue them.  One thing I wish I would have continued, is playing baseball.  Baseball was once my passion. And now I know how much it teaches us as kids. There are alot of things I would have learned but quit before I had the chance to.  I now try to practice the "eye one the prize" method of life, as much as possible. 

"Set small goals."

What are you most proud of and why?  My wife.  Cuz she's just so dern cute! 

Why Des Moines? Des Moines is just where I landed! And I have learned, there is just no other place I'd rather be. It's home! And, I love that we are smack dab in the middle of EVERYTHING! And, if you know where to look, the scenery in Des Moines and surrounding areas are incredible! 

Favorite underrated spot in Des Moines? The mountain bike, single-track trails!

"I wish, as we grow, we stay humble!"

If you could wish one thing for Des Moines, what would it be? I wish, as we grow, we stay humble! Stay humble, Des Moines! Never lose your small town feel! Stay humble.. stay humble.. stay humble..

In six months what do you hope to have accomplished? I'm more of a day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute kinda guy.  Tomorrow I'm harvesting a 4' in diameter conifer, that is in between a house and power lines... Small steps, people.. small steps. In six months, I hope to be alive and kickin, annoying my wife! 

Where do you want to see Urban Lumber Initiative in six months? As a business owner, I obviously wish to see the ULI become as successful as possible. But, I also just want the idea behind the ULI to become one we adopt as a society.  Trees were put here for us. They were once a very important part of our creation and also the evolution of our future. So, my goal for the next six months is to find a mountain top and chant U-L-I for the world to hear!

What's one thing people need to know you really care about.  My Occidental tool bags.. life would not be worth living, without these bad boys! 

Derek Jensen