Rebirth: Hope From a Dead Tree

One of the most remarkable and inspiring stories about the rebirth of Phil Campbell, Alabama doesn't directly involve a Phil Campbell resident or one of the Phil Campbells; it involves a master furniture designer and Alabamian named Robin Wade.

Wade attended the 2011 Phil Campbell Hoedown because he had heard about the “I'm with Phil” relief effort. What he saw at the Hoedown astonished him. Instead of seeing depressed residents, numbed and paralyzed by the tragedy of the tornado, he saw friendly faces everywhere, celebrating their town's 100th anniversary, despite their terribly harsh setbacks.

Everyone was wearing a T-shirt announcing their refusal to be daunted by the work of rebuilding that lay ahead. Wade heard stories of all kinds of people pitching in and helping out in the aftermath of the crisis. And then there were the Phil Campbells, twenty in all, who had journeyed from all over the world to lend whatever support they could, sporting "I'm with Phil" T-shirts and happily mingling with their new friends, the residents of Phil Campbell.

Wade announced that he wanted to help the town, too, however he could. "I'm with Phil," he proudly told Brooklyn Phil Campbell.

As the owner of Robin Wade Furniture, Wade is an award-winning wood artist and master craftsman who work out of his specialty shop in Florence, Alabama. He takes downed trees to create natural-looking furniture as part of a deeply held belief in pursuing sustainable manufacturing practices. Each piece of furniture is shaped by hand, using age-old woodworking skills alongside modern tools. To say this process takes time is an understatement - in fact, it takes years.

People who understand quality furniture know that Robin Wade is one of the greats, in no small part because he’s so very patient.

Since the fall of 2011 Wade has been hard at work on his latest masterpiece, a table made out of a tree from Phil Campbell that was downed by the tornadoes of April 27th. Watch the attached video to see how the story of Wade's Phil Campbell furniture has evolved!

Think about it: A downed Phil Campbell tree, refashioned, slowly, into a beautiful, useful piece of furniture, hand-crafted by a volunteer who was inspired by the timeless story of “people helping people” that is the “I’m with Phil” effort? It’s an amazing story; the “I’m with Phil” campaign, which continues with the I’m with Phil film and this website, is proudly working with Wade to make his furniture part of a massive fundraising effort to help rebuild Phil Campbell, Alabama. 

The table has been made available as a reward in our Kickstarter campaign.  Please share this article or the video above with others so that more people know about this exciting project.