PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Portlander Patrick Anderson got laid off in the midst of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic from his job as a product manager in footwear, like a lot of people going through the same thing, he had no idea what his next steps would be.
“It was jarring, to have sudden joblessness occur overnight. Between that and the state of the world, I was a mess. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping,” Anderson told KOIN 6 News. “I needed some sort of positive outlet, a healthy distraction to channel some creative energy.”
A distraction, something to get him out of his news cycle and into his backyard began to foment in Anderson’s mind. He wanted to create something so others could experience the same thing.
“I knew we’d all be handcuffed to our homes during lockdown, so the idea was to create a little planter that would inspire a backyard gardening project,” Anderson explained.
Now, Anderson has teamed up with a neighbor, a skilled woodworker named Josh Siegel to create unique, hexagonal planter boxes for outdoor gardening work.
The boxes, 16-inch in diameter, are a perfect design for housing individual herbs and succulents. On the bottom of the tabletop planter is the message “We Are All in This Together,” written in stencil.
“We knew we had something that would catch people’s curiosity,” said Anderson, who has called the venture UPROOT’D.
Anderson and Siegel, whose business is called J.Bird Woodworks, practice social distancing when they make the boxes, of which Siegel is the main builder and Anderson is in charge of the branding.
Anderson said he has tried his best to incorporate “a little nanoeconomy” with the box manufacturing, having worked with a local graphic designer, Leah Cox, and a local laser cutter to cut the stencils, Nathanael Malone of Bearded Boy Design.
Cox was also working at the same footwear company and was laid off at the same time, Anderson said, and she’s been an asset to help keep UPROOT’D looking polished and professional.
In addition, all of the proceeds gained by the sale of the planters, which cost $50 each, are going to local non-profit organizations with a donation made after every 50 planters sold. That has included donations to Impact NW and Project 48.
With their latest milestone of 150 boxes sold, UPROOT’D has made their latest donation to Black Resilience Fund, an emergency fund dedicated to healing and resilience by providing immediate resources to Black Portlanders and which has already raised over $1 million in little over a month.
To better connect with the community in Northeast Portland, UPROOT’D even sponsored a local musician to play her violin in the street for neighbors while they sat safely from their front yards back in April.