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ROBERT Backlund

Company: The UnSQuare Crafter LLC.
Title: Owner
Age: 35

Favorite Part of Job? I enjoy the freedom to be creative, to make mistakes and experiment. Working with my hands and being able to see and feel my progress on a project.
Most Inspiring Mentor: My father, Wayne. He is the most selfless person that I have ever met.

Tell us something fun about yourself that few people know: I still make mix tapes, yes tapes. I started a series in high school that has continued through to the present – my next tape will be Volume 37.  

Favorite Vermont Escape: Woods Island State Park. Not going to tell you where it is, but it is truly amazing.

Favorite Downtime Activity: Playing dice, cribbage or any type of board game. I also truly enjoy watching European soccer.

Favorite Super Hero: My father, Wayne. His superpower lies in his courage, strength and humility to be a caregiver for his wife Susan, my mother, throughout her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Favorite Social Media: I still have a flip phone – I will leave it at that.

Person you would like to share a Vermont beverage with: Joe Biden at the Whiskey Room in Burlington. I would love to ask him about his relationship with leadership and personal adversity.
What is the best career advice you have received? There is more than one “professional” Rob in Rob. However, with one life, choose which “professional” Rob seems to fit the best – don’t second guess it, give it your entire self.

Where do you see yourself professionally in ten years? A larger workshop in a barn. Proper ventilation, many of the same tools, a few new tools - still creating funky, unique and functional wood products.

What motivated you to live and work in Vermont? I feel and have felt that there is a cultural connection to the landscape, the place and the seasons that is rooted not only in recreation or for resources, but in everyday living. It is a relationship of give and take – a land ethic – a way of life with farms, wood stoves, skis. Yes, that is a touch romanticized, but Vermont in itself lends one easy access to this way of life.

Career Highlights: I have been lucky to try out many iterations of a “career” thus far in life. The fact that I have had a choice to do this is a blessing that many do not get a chance at. Recently, I have been humbled by the support of family and friends in my endeavors as The UnSQuare Crafter. Highlights wearing this hat include seeing progress in my ability to work with wood, being creative on a daily basis and incorporating personal ethos directly into my work.

Community Involvement: My community involvement in Burlington and greater Vermont is tied directly to my family’s relationship with Alzheimer’s Disease. My mother, Susan, has been battling Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease for the last 8 years. She is the late stages of the disease and currently lives in a memory care living facility in Northern Michigan. My father, Wayne, was and still is her primary caregiver on this journey. As their only child, I have been a tertiary caregiver for my family, and in the past 5 years a public spokesperson of our story.

My involvement in the greater Alzheimer’s Community of Vermont currently has me wearing a few different hats. I am the co-chair of the Alzheimer’s Association Leadership Board. In this role, I oversee and participate with a group of extremely dedicated volunteers that works with the Alzheimer’s Association to further its vision of a “World Without Alzheimer’s Disease” (we are always looking for dedicated help by the way). I am the Association’s Ambassador to Senator Patrick Leahy. In this role, I keep my thumb on the pulse of legislation that impacts the greater Alzheimer’s Community near and far – always pushing for support of what in principle should be a bi-partisan cause. I am also on the steering and planning committee for the Camel’s Hump Challenge. This unique Vermont event features a ski tour circumnavigating Camel’s Hump Mountain (set for Sunday, February 18th, 2018) while at the same time fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association – the 2017 event raised over $42,000.



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