ILCA Women’s Networking Group

Yard Crashers: Crashes Gender Worries by kathywicks2215
July 16, 2010, 11:02 pm
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By: Kathy Wicks
Have you ever seen an episode of Yard Crashers on the DYI Network? If you haven’t, here is a quick run down: The host, Ahmed Hassan, stakes out a home improvement store located anywhere throughout the United States. He finds an unsuspecting homeowner who is trying to improve their back yard. Ahmed follows the person to their home, checks out the backyard and asks the homeowner what they would like to have in their yard. Through the magic of TV the designer and crew show up and poof…. 2 days later the backyard is magically transformed into a paradise worthy of the rich and famous!
Buy The Yard, Inc. was recently given the opportunity to supply gravel, garden soil, mulch and sod to a Yard Crashers’ project in Chicago designed by Michael and Lori Anthony of 1 Design Group. I arrived early at the site on Monday morning. In front of the house there were many contractors from different trades talking to each other and waiting for the “shoot” to begin. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to get out of my truck because I was the only female on site at the time. A few minutes later, I had introduced myself and our company to a fence contractor, an artist, a plumber and an electrician. More women soon arrived and the entire crowd was excited to jump into this project. The women represented areas of design, management, television and landscape specialists.
As the two days of organized chaos unfolded, it soon became clear that gender was not an issue for anyone who was participating in this “crash”. The playing field was equal as we all worked hard to complete the homeowner’s backyard oasis. A cohesive team spirit joined us all together with a vision to make the project a success for the homeowners. As the second day concluded well into late evening hours, the TV crew finished filming and the celebration started! I had a conversation with tile mosaic artist Billy Michaelis from Texas. He commented on his observation that women from Chicago are very confident and secure in who they are. He was so impressed to see women in this industry working as respected equals. We know that women are the minority in the Green Industry. I walked into the task, a bit worried about gender, but I walked away from the entire experience physically exhausted, but emotionally charged and proud to be a woman!

Ahmed Hassan, host of Yard Crashers and Kathy Wicks


What’s a Guy / Gal to do? by corumkeller
July 6, 2010, 5:39 am
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By Christa Orum-Keller

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation where a male colleague was asking female colleagues what he ought do and ought not do, in his work interactions with women in work situations.  There were questions and situations described, for which I didn’t have answers and of course there were those shades of grey…

So I thought, why not ask the experts – all of YOU!

I’ll just get things going with a few questions, but I would be delighted if there were many comments with lots of information to share…

  • What terms should and should not be used to describe female work colleagues?  For example:  female, women, lady, girl, gal, etc.
  • Does the acceptability of the term differ if it is used by a woman vs. a man?
  • What’s OK for a woman to say but NOT OK for a man to say at work?
  • What about manners?  Can a male colleague open the door for you?  Pull out your chair at a restaurant?  What about handshakes / hugs / greetings – what’s OK and what’s not?
  • Business meals – if you’re dining with a man, does the server inevitably bring the check to him?  If you are the one paying the bill, how do you maneuver the false assumption with the server?  What’s the man to do in the situation?
  • If the male co-worker is of a more senior generation, do we give him some slack?  Or are our expectations for enlightenment equal no matter what age the person has?
  • What if a woman says something offensive toward women in the workplace?  How do you deal with that?  How does a male colleague deal with this situation?  Say something or leave it alone?

These are just a few small examples.  Maybe you have more comments, questions or situations to throw out that others can comment on.

Let the information sharing begin!  Thanks!

Doing Your Duty by corumkeller
June 7, 2010, 5:46 pm
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By Christa Orum-Keller

Sometimes it’s easy to do the right thing. And sometimes it’s not…and that’s when doing the right thing matters the most.

I recently read an article on leadership, which talked about taking yourself outside of your own situation and really thinking about what the other person is going through, and then making the decision about what to do. Not a new concept, but it caused me to pause and think.

When you start your morning and are driving to work, what fills your mind – is it all the things YOU have to do at work, all the things YOU need to get done, all the places YOU need to be and all the benefits YOU will derive? Where is the room for the rest of the world?

It annoys me, and most supervisors and managers, when they hear someone say, “Well, that’s not my job…” My seven year old has recently been asking why he has to do so many things? He says, “Mom, you are being soooo demanding!” And I say, “Yes I am!” It’s not becuase I want to be the meanest mom in town or that I’m trying to be a downer of a mom, it’s becuase I think the world and the people we serve in it, demand that we step up to the plate with fortitude and DO OUR DUTY! And seven is a fine age to begin building the strength of character it will take to grow up to be someone who doesn’t take their duty lightly or considers it only when there is fair wind.

That’s not always easy. The world, our colleagues, our customers, our family and our children demand a lot of us. And if we are truly living a compassionate life where we consider the needs of others, we must be prepared to DO something about those needs. Sometimes that means waiting a little while to fulfill personal needs. Sometimes that means doing things we didn’t plan on or which aren’t in our job description. Sometimes it means bearing more than we think we can and sticking through it, not because it is fun, enjoyable or even tolerable, but becuase it is our duty and it is the right thing to do.

Yes, your mother might be demanding, but if we are to live lives of true compassion, then the world is much, much more demanding than she could ever be.

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
–Eleanor Roosevelt

Being true to yourself by sararexroat
April 20, 2010, 6:36 pm
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It seems doing what is right is not the same thing as doing what is easy.  I have recently made some rather life altering choices.  They have not been easy, but they have been the right choices for me.  I decided a few months ago that it was time for me to move on from the job I was holding.  That was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made; my co-workers were great, the job was with a growing company, and I didn’t have another job to move onto.  My job had become more and more focused as the company grew and I felt like I was becoming less not more.  I knew there was more out there that I wanted to be doing but couldn’t figure out how to do it at that company.  So with support from those closest to me and prayers for me from my parents, I decided to move on…move on to figuring things out for myself.

Figuring things out sounds fun and light and easy, but when one really tries to get to the core of things it is anything but fun and easy.  I have to budget my savings to make the most of them while I’m in this limbo.  I have to be true to what I want as I have been fortunate to have had several job opportunities, but none so far have been the right match.  It would be easier to just take one of these opportunities and hope it works out okay, but that is not why I set out on this path of uncertainty.  At times, this all feels so selfish and indulgent but being happy and, hopefully in the end, productive shouldn’t feel that way, should it?

GirlPOWER! by corumkeller
April 10, 2010, 3:52 pm
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By Christa Orum-Keller

This spring’s energy of the universe has placed some of the most powerful women I’ve ever met in my life’s path.  Intelligent, wise, thoughtful, connected with living things.  Connected to our warming soil.  And tuned in with the power of their femininity.  Not in that bright shining, hair-sprayed, overly-pink, fluffy kind of way.  In the strong, cultivating, present, witty, and courageous sort of way.

What did they have in common?  They all had their wits about them.  They live in the present yet consider the future.  They don’t let spring’s insanity get them flustered.  They aren’t afraid to say…

  • “We’ll make the best of it.”
  • “Let’s take one thing at a time.”
  • “We’ll get to that eventually.”

But above all, they take time to be good to themselves.  Women serve – their parents, their siblings, their families, their children, their employers, their employees, their communities, their churches, their soup pantries…and we give and give and give.  But these powerful women stop.  They stop and take time to regenerate, revive and review.  Whether the cup of tea, the decadent lunch, the time for a walk in the garden, seeking out spring wildflowers, a massage, a bit of yoga, or a cheerful visit with an old friend – they each take time to take care of themselves.

Feeling frazzled?  At your wit’s end?  Repeat those wise phrases above.  Live in the now.  And feel great about making a choice to be good to you.  It will pay enormous dividends when we arrive at the scorching sizzling spring culmination into summer.

Social Media Marketing aka “Fun in the Blogosphere” by Terre Houte
March 31, 2010, 12:16 pm
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by Terrè Houte

Who says it’s crazy to delve into a new marketing experience during the spring rush? Marketing is not for sissies!  (I once heard someone around here say “go big or go home!”)

The goal this month was to get organized and get going! 

Here is a snapshot of what’s been going on: 


  • met with our two expert firms (see Feb blog post) to determine our direction and determine goals (see below)
  • started building actual timelines encompassing the upgrade of the website and the blog design/content
  • began discussions on a project guide
  • began development of a “publishing calendar”.
  • began an inventory of existing creative archives to decide what to reuse
  • started creating a blog marketing plan 

Our goals:

  • inform and persuade
  • pre-qualify prospects
  • drive traffic with SEO (search engine optimization)
  • collect visitor email to build database

 Our timeframe:

  • April 14th preliminary publishing guide
  • May 1st design concepts presentation
  • June 1st LAUNCH

 I’ll keep you POSTED! (NO pun intended, well maybe)

Value Not Price by corumkeller
March 19, 2010, 8:15 pm
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by Christa Orum-Keller

“The real price of everything, what everything really costs to the man who wants to acquire it, is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.”            —Adam Smith

This is such an interesting time to those of us who have ever studied economics.  It is too easy, to say that ‘price’ is what is driving our decisions.  It’s not really price, it’s our customers’ new stronger focus on measuring Value.

Every single one of us is focused on ‘getting a better deal’ – but think harder.  Aren’t we really focused on getting something we strongly value?  As budgets shrink, the value equation becomes more important.

What’s neat about that is that we cannot use price as an excuse for declining revenue.  What’s difficult about that is, we have to be better communicators to learn from our customers and discover just what it is they value, and then align oursleves with customers who value what we excel at.  The sites have shifted and we must adjust.  What’s really interesting, if you can spend a few minutes looking at facts and figures, is to observe the areas where your sales might be increasing.

At ILCA, it’s remarkable to note how many new members there are!  There may be many reasons for this growth, but in the end, our newest members must recognize the Value of ILCA membership.  If you haven’t recently read what ILCA pledges to its members, you may find it interseting to review:

  • To serve as a forum for the free exchange of ideas among landscape contractors and their suppliers.
  • To carry out a broad-scale program of practical instruction for those engaged in landscaping, through special programs, meetings and publications.
  • To create a greater degree of public appreciation for the landscaping profession in Illinois and for those for whom it is a livelihood.
  • To encourage a high code of professional ethics as well as quality workmanship among landscape contractors.
  • To support legislation which is beneficial to landscape contractors and the general public, and to oppose that which is not.
  • To work for a greener, more beautiful Illinois.

For those of us who have been members for many years, let us not lose site of the Value of ILCA to our organizations.  We are a community made stronger by and with each other.

“Friendship is essentially a partnership.”      — Aristotle (4th century B.C.)