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Everybody’s All-American

Ruth True opens NuBe Green in the Oddfellows Building this weekend.

November 20, 2009


They said she would never find them. Organic cotton sheets, made with American-grown cotton, milled in American, sewn in America? Didn’t exist. Why not just settle for organic cotton grown, milled, or sewn elsewhere? But Ruth True wouldn’t and eventually she found them, truly homegrown bed clothes, and you’ll find them at NuBe Green, tucked into a salvaged old display unit from some turn of the century country store.

That’s what NuBe Green (say nu-bee) is, after all – a country store for a different turn of a different century. A metaphorical turn, if you will. Or even, really, if you won’t. True doesn’t mind the naysayers and doubters. She was, until recently, one of them. Hence, nube, or newbie.

It was on a 2008 excursion to China that all this started. There were two things she didn’t see during her time there: factories (because she was shielded from them) and blue skies (because the dust and smoke from those factories shields the sky from, pretty much, the entire region). She came home and thought about all that we consume, all that we want, and all that we have, and the gorgeous blue skies that we enjoy it all under. It just didn’t seem fair.

The other thing is this: Ruth True loves to shop. After the China trip, she found herself unable to do it. Unable because it felt increasingly wrong to purchase products that cause pollution and suffering, and unable because even in the emerald city, it was difficult to find the domestically made, green and sustainable things she needed.

But True knows about making connections. She and her husband Bill founded Western Bridge, the free, public, contemporary art space in SoDo. It’s fair to say that they are Seattle’s most important supporters and collectors of Northwest, emerging, and otherwise avant-garde artists and art. The point is this: She has a familial relationship with innovation, and she knows people — in this city, in this country — who make uncommonly intelligent and beautiful work out of nothing.

Why not bring that work into a modern mercantile dedicated exclusively to gifts, goods, and home decor made in America? Why not open a store and fill it with beautiful, mindful objects that have never flown over an ocean and have not obscured any sky?

She did, or she will. NuBe Green’s opens on Saturday. You’ll find it in the corner spot of the Oddfellows building, right next door to that sweetly beautiful new Flora and Henri store we talked about a few weeks ago.

And why not open more? Couldn’t every city have a NuBe Green, featuring American-made products, many from artists in that town? Yeah, and on her more ambitious days, Ruth dreams of opening those, too.

The slideshow here shows off some of NuBe Green’s truly green products, but it’s one of those places that is meant to be experienced. Everything has a story. Vases and furniture and baby onesies and supermodern Seattle-made recycled lighting fixtures. The green character of these items isn’t one dimensional. The artists and stuffmakers represented there are upcycling and sustainably sourcing from their heads to their toes, and, as trite as it sounds to say it, hearing about the dedication to doing so makes you think. And that’s by design—just in case you’re a newbie, too.

It’s also by design that NuBe Green is, again, a modern country store. A meeting place and cross-pollination zone. If there is someone in Seattle creating and innovating and making and doing, the Trues know them, and their spaces — Western Bridge and now NuBe Green — are therefore full of life, quite literally.

Go in and meet Ruth. She’ll give you her business card, and after you’ve entered the information, digitally, in your contact files, you won’t have to worry about recycling it or tossing it out. The card has seeds embedded in it. Bury it under some soil in the backyard or in your windowsill box, and this spring, you’ll have green leaves and flowers.


You’re into it? Check out Field House, where a commitment to American-based (if not always American-made) brands, and products of long-lasting value and integrity meet high, timeless style.

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