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 five 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, Client Intake, Planting Coordinator, & 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 son Ember, and co-parenting several thousand plants of all shapes and sizes.
Arborist Certification (NY-6360A) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2018- present
Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2021 

Clarence Fountain

Member-Worker & Certified Arborist

As my father would say “Sawdust was in our family bloodline” I was no exception for our family’s
love of trees and outdoor spaces. Climbing came young also further confirming what my passion and
service to the world I am in would be. In high school I got my first formal training in a 2 yr Forestry and
Wildlife Management class . Many employers and running my own business for the past 5 decades has taught me a lot, as well as attending ISA and NYA conferences and educational events to stay current with this industry. Home in Schenectady has given my wife Susan and I a green space for edible perennials, herbs, beneficial flowers and unique trees. More Tree Arborist Collective has been an opportunity for me to practice a more cooperative culture like I first saw in a Catholic Worker camp as a young child and at The Honest Weight Food Coop where my wife works and we shop as members. My most recent endeavor has been a band sawmill to decrease urban wood waste, and a YouTube channel @CF.Tree to share tips, and educate about trees, their care, and a bit more.
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, Finance Team leader, & Ground Crew

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 (and too old and fat to climb trees even if he was) 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). Jim is one of the founders of Transtion Troy and has long been active at the intersection of sustainability and local/new economy.

Jenn Kotary

Employee, Climber-in-Training & Ground Crew

“Your connection with trees kinda freaks me out.”

Jennifer Kotary is on earth to transmute power into pain through re-earthing connectivity with one another and land. She was raised in the Mohawk Valley, in Rome, NY, where the town motto is a place to serve. She found herself and her roots as a Trojan in the Hudson Valley in 2007 and has been tethered to Troy, NY since. 
She gained her land-based mind from her time at the Ranger School (Wanakena, NY) & SUNY ESF (Syracuse, NY) learning forestry.
She gained her land-based heart from her work with regenerative farming innovators at Sap Bush Hollow Farm (West Fulton, NY) and with intentional landscaper Sandra Zwink (Delmar, NY).
She revealed her land-based soul from her experiences with Collard City Growers at the Sanctuary for Independent Media (Troy, NY) & Troy Bike Rescue, as well as her inspiration from author Amy Halloran.

Her apocalyptic resilience flows from time spent with loved ones, doing the dishes, sauntering, dancing, and doing art.

She intends to carry the spirit of her colleague’s legacy by reflecting back their tender accountability, collaborative support, and passion revealed as steadfast work.

Andrew Lynn

Member-Worker, Operations Manager, & 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. After working as a bike messenger, documentary video producer, and youth media educator, he got into tree work with Magai Arboriculture for over 13 years and became an ISA-Certified Arborist in 2015. When not climbing trees, he might be gardening, biking, snowboarding or building something. Andrew is the founder and a volunteer with Troy Bike Rescue, guitarist in local punk favorite, Zombie Giuliani, and proud 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, Certified Arborist & Consulting Arborist (Member, ASCA)

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 a 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 mechanics with Claus Mattheck, and recently became qualified by the ISA in Tree Risk Assessment. 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, Member since 2018

Brian Smith

Member-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, 2019- present
Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) from the International Society of Arboriculture, 2021