An adept project manager and thoughtful human being, Alex Meyer is an essential member of the Nelson Treehouse crew. You may have watched every episode of Treehouse Masters with Alex on the team, but how well do you know this winsome carpenter?
We sat down with Alex to discover ten fascinating things about his story. What would Alex's dream treehouse look like? And what would Alex be doing if he weren't building treehouses for a living?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more about Alex.
THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
Alex met Pete Nelson at the 2011 Global Treehouse Symposium, which Pete hosted that year. The Symposium came at a time in Alex's life when he was searching for a fresh career direction; after many years in residential construction, Alex was ready for something new.
Alex's interest was immediately captivated by the world of treehouses. He found that treehouse construction engaged his diverse skill set in building, site-management, and climbing. As Alex puts it: "It all just made sense." By keeping in touch with Pete over the course of the following year, Alex secured a position with Nelson Treehouse (and Nelson Treehouse secured an excellent carpenter). The rest is "treestory!"
ALEX'S ROAD TO THE TREEHOUSE LIFE
Alex's journey to becoming a carpenter and project manager was a winding one. As a child, Alex spent hours building forts and makeshift treehouses outside his home in Bend, Oregon. Alex may have caught the carpentry bug from his grandfather, who crafted toys by hand and built many structures around his farm.
After graduating from high school, Alex traveled to Alaska for the summer, hitchhiking the Kenai Peninsula and working on a fishing boat. He then worked a year as a construction laborer before heading to Mexico for eight months to travel, teach English, train as a taco connoisseur, and sail the Sea of Cortez.
All of this came before Alex embarked on a series of jobs in the trades, including concrete, framing, and finish work. In his twenties, Alex studied math, science, and philosophy at Central Oregon Community College, the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington. Alex then turned to project management for residential construction projects, and earned a license in general contracting in the wake of the Great Recession.
While Alex has always harbored a proclivity and passion for building, it wasn't until he found the world of treehouse construction that he felt constantly inspired by his work. Alex feels that treehouse construction unites his kaleidoscopic skill set and interests, and continually challenges him to think bigger, build better, and reach higher. Alex says he loves building treehouses and is daily inspired by Pete's contagious passion for all things treehouse.
FAVORITE NELSON TREEHOUSES
Alex names the Single Spruce Treehome as one of his all-time favorites. He especially loved the treehouse's single-tree design, views of the sea, and towering height. Alex also loved building the platform for that treehouse, noting that the platform is often his favorite part of every build.
While a significant portion of each treehouse is prefabricated in the Nelson Treehouse shop, platform construction is often left to the creativity of the onsite crew. Alex loves the process of solving problems and thinking outside the box to create the most supportive foundation possible for the treehouse. Building bridges, stairs, and ramps to access treehouses also endlessly excites and captivates Alex.
Another one of Alex's favorites was the Lakeside Frank Lloyd Wright treehouse. With its elegant cantilevered roofs and emphasized horizontal lines, it's a bonafide a work of art!
CLIMBING AS INSPIRATION
Alex is an avid rock climber; he started climbing in his late teens with his brother and friends. Through rock climbing, Alex has learned to balance risk-taking with trust in himself, his gear, and his partners. Alex loves watching young climbers gain confidence as their initial nervousness transforms into an informed faith in their own abilities and equipment. He believes that climbing teaches courage and decisiveness by calling participants to push forward and learn to trust despite their interminable fear. According to Alex, climbing is a meditation that ushers in present-moment awareness as progress is made—one decision, one move, one breath at a time.
His most memorable climb? In 2010, Alex and a friend summited Liberty Crack on Liberty Bell in the North Cascades in only 14 hours car-to-car! For perspective, it takes many climbing parties two days to complete this highly technical climb.
TREE CLIMBING VS. ROCK CLIMBING
According to Alex, tree climbing is very distinct from rock climbing. The only shared element between the two is the use of similar equipment. In rock climbing, climbers use the rock to scale and protect the climb, bringing the rope up with them. In tree climbing, climbers essentially ascend their ropes, anchored to the trunk or a limb, with harnesses and ascending gear.
Alex says that tree climbing would most closely approximate aid climbing in the rock-climbing world. Although Alex had never climbed trees with gear prior to joining Nelson Treehouse, he brought his expertise and comfort with rock climbing to the build site.
HAPPIEST MEMORIES FROM A BUILD
Alex loved seeing Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden with Pete and the crew during one build. In Alex's exact words, the experience was "AMAZING!!!"
Another happy moment came from the Single Spruce Treehome build. Alex had a wonderful time drinking coffee on the beach and surfing, boogie boarding, and kayaking on the Oregon Coast with the rest of the crew.
ALEX'S DREAM TREEHOUSE
If Alex could build his own dream treehouse, it would be a single-tree design nestled high up in a towering redwood or spruce. Alex loves how single-tree treehouses sway more in the wind, providing a greater connection with nature and an enhanced feeling of freedom.
He would include ample deck space and a tranquil living area inside. The treehouse would be simple, with solar-powered lighting and no plumbing.
ADVICE TO YOUNG CARPENTERS
Interested in a career in carpentry? Alex strongly believes the best way to learn is by doing. He suggests that young carpenters research the type of carpentry they would like to work in and then find a job with a master in that trade.
"Learning from folks who have mastered their craft is an invaluable experience," Alex says.
IN ALEX'S FREE TIME
In addition to climbing, Alex also loves skiing, mountain biking, hiking, paddle boarding, yoga, traveling, and reading about philosophy and spirituality. One of Alex's favorite philosophers and Zen scholars is Alan Watts.
IF ALEX WERE NOT BUILDING TREEHOUSES
If Alex were not building treehouses for a living, he believes he would be one of the following:
- a philosophy professor
- an author (à la Tom Robbins - insightful and ridiculous, with a humorous appreciation of the "Cosmic Joke")
- an archaeologist of ancient ruins and civilizations
- an evolutionary biologist
- a cult leader. His cult mantra would be the following quote by Rumi:
"It's rigged—everything is in your favour."
Thank you for the enlightening interview, Alex!
You can read all our Staff Spotlights on our intrepid crew here.
To the trees!