About Our Cooperative

A Brief History

Once upon a time, not to long ago, More Trees Arborist Collective was operating as a sole proprietorship of Jack Magai called Magai Arboriculture. After some formative experiences working for good arborists in Vermont and San Francisco, Jack started doing tree work on his own back in the early 90s in Seattle, and built the business slowly and organically over the next few decades. Jack’s meticulous and low-impact approach to tree work, as well as his interest in teaching the trade, attracted a menagerie of eclectic employees, some of whom have become certified as arborists themselves. His commitment to operational transparency and a desire for shared decision-making led to discussions about forming a democratic workplace that could carry on Jack’s legacy of conscientious tree care. The More Trees cooperative venture is a direct result of that multi-year process. Jack and fellow coop founders Andrew Lynn, Christian Grigoraskos, Jim Welch and Clarence “Rennie” Fountain, have made a reputation for their highly skilled, ecological approach to tree care, particularly for large heritage trees. Our crew boasts four International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborists as well as several other specialized certifications and skill sets.

What is a Cooperative?

A worker cooperative is a business owned equally by all its employees, who govern the business democratically and share profits in proportion to their contribution of labor. More common in some regions of the US than others, worker cooperatives are thriving in a wide range of industries: farming to food service, cleaning, architecture, and software development. Across the board, worker co-ops have higher success rates than conventional small businesses. They improve worker performance by giving them a stake in company success, and offer more opportunities for advancement.

Meet the Crew Members

Christian Grigoraskos

Member Worker & Certified /Arborist

Christian grew up on suburban Long Island where many streets are named after trees.  After wandering western North America, between mountains and sea, for most of his twenties, he started to cultivate an interest in the natural world.   Now, hypnotized by natural cycles, Christian focuses on working with them to create productive and regenerative environments.   Together with his partner Azure, Christian is developing the Collard City Growers’ food forest, raising their sons Ember and Thasos and co-parenting several thousand plants of all shapes and sizes.
Arborist Certification (NY-6360A) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2019- present

Clarence Fountain

Member Worker & Certified Arborist

Arborist Certification (NY-5946A) from the International Society of Arboriculture
Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) from the International Society of Arboriculture

Jim Welch

Member Worker & Groundsperson/Equipment Technician

Jim Welch is mostly retired from a career in information technology though he still mantains a web solutions consultancy which gives him a reason to wake up in the morning … some days. While not an arborist, he has received professional training in both the operation and maintenance of chainsaws. Since Spring 2018, he has put those skills to use as one of the “ground crew” for Magai Arboriculture – now More Trees Arborist Collective. Jim is one of the founders of Transtion Troy and has long been active at the intersection of sustainability and local/new economy.

Rachelle McKnight

Staff Worker & Certified Arborist

Rachelle spent her formative years in Kentucky, creek splashing and horseback riding in the hills and forests of the rural south. After spending a number of years working as a scenic artist in New York City, she decided to pursue a career in landscape architecture and arboriculture, where she entwines creative abilities with ecological thinking. Rachelle conducts riparian, wetland, and woodland investigations whose data helps conservationists and planners devise management strategies to maximize resilience. “I am thrilled to be working with MTAC to improve the health of trees in urban and rural environments, and to increase the diversity and abundance of trees across the capital region.” 
Arborist Certification (NY-6181A)
from the International Society of Arboriculture
Registered Landscape Architect:
New York LAR.02995
Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (No. 0489), Society for Ecological Restoration

Andrew Lynn

Member Worker & Certified Arborist

Andrew was raised on a small fruit farm in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and arrived in Troy around 2000, where he received an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He worked with Magai Arboriculture for over 13 years. He became an ISA-Certified Arborist in 2015 and became Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ) in 2020. When not climbing trees, Andrew is the founder and a volunteer with Troy Bike Rescue, a board member of the Sanctuary for Independent Media, guitarist in bands such as Zombie Giuliani, and dad to two girls, Hazel Moon and Laurel Mae.

Arborist Certification (NY-5991A) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2015- present
Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2020

Jack Magai

Member Worker and Certified Arborist

With a family background in engineering, undergraduate work in math and chemistry, and a degree in dance and literature from Bennington college, Jack Magai started working in the tree care field in 1985. He started pruning trees in Seattle in the 90s and became certified as an arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) in 1997. He has studied tree biomechanics with Claus Mattheck, Frank Rinn, and Giovanni Morelli, and has been qualified by the ISA in Tree Risk Assessment since 2014 and 2019. Under his other hat he has been making and performing dance-based works for 30 years. He has two sons with the writer Amy Halloran.

Arborist Certification (#PN-A1157) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 1997- present
Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2014 
American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA), Member since 2018
Practical Education 
Oak Wilt Workshop, Schenectady, NY 2018 
Tree Climbers International Recreational Tree-climbing Facilitators’ Training, Atlanta, GA, 2018 
Tree Biomechanics Workshop with Frank Rinn, Westchester, NY, 2016
Botany 116B, SUNY Cobleskill, 2008
International Tree Failure Database (ITFD) training, UMass Amherst, 2008
ISA Conferences, 2002, 2004, 2012, & 2017
ASCA conference 2019
The Body Language of Trees and Visual Tree Assessment, with Dr. Claus Mattheck 1999 and 2002 

Brian Smith

Staff Worker & Certified Arborist

Brian, born in Albany, spent years in Long Island protecting our natural habitat from introduced species such as the Asian Longhorn Beetle. He obtained his ISA Certification while living and working in Sweden. He has since returned home to the capital region and lives a simple life.

Arborist Certification (#SW-0039A) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 1997- present