LEADERSHIP &
KEY CONTRIBUTORS

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Randall E. Solomon

Founder & Partner

Randall Solomon is Merriwood's founder, motivated by a long time dream of creating a sustainable and self-sufficient community. Mr. Solomon is an expert in sustainability, land use and redevelopment policy with 20 years of experience working at the highest levels of government, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Mr. Solomon has been a land policy researcher, redevelopment agency officer, and founder of Sustainable Jersey, a highly successful non-profit corporation focused on local sustainable development that services 450 cities and towns that has been emulated in 12 states. 

 

In addition to his role leading the non-profit Sustainable Jersey, managing a staff of 20 and fundraising an annual 2.5 million dollar operating budget, Mr. Solomon’s experience includes positions as a policy advisor on smart growth for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities integrating land use and energy policy, director of the States Campaign for the Resource Renewal Institute in San Francisco, and smart growth policy director for the non-profit New Jersey Future. He has participated on advisory boards for Federal and State government, and has advised major corporations. Mr. Solomon holds an M.S. in Public Policy and Planning from Rutgers University.

 

Mr. Solomon’s work has received numerous awards including:

 

  • Distinguished Public Service Award from The New Jersey League of Municipalities

  • Outstanding Achievement in Sustainability Award from the American Planning Association

  • Joint Resolution of Thanks and Congratulations for Leadership from the New Jersey State Legislature (twice)

  • Person of the Year from the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise

  • The Sustainability Award from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority

  • Governor's Environmental Excellence Award

  • Distinguished Civic Leadership Award from the NJ Chapter of the American Planning Association

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Blanche Garcia

Interior Design and LEED/WELL Consultant

Famously known as a designer who goes against the grain in an industry so fixated on trends, Interior Designer and Entrepreneur Blanche Garcia’s aesthetic is not one that can be labeled. Instead, her design is looked upon as a lifestyle that is individual to her and especially to each of her projects.

 

Blanche has a degree in Interior Design from Willsey Institute of Interior Design and Berkley, New York. Having a knack for intuitively knowing how a client’s space should look, feel and function – her design philosophy and approach urges clients to envision a space that is the backdrop to the life they want to live. To Blanche Garcia, every decision in her work has a holistic purpose—every fixture, every color and every piece of furniture has a reason to help tell a story.

 

Today, Blanche is a certified Interior Designer with over 25 years of experience in hospitality, residential, and commercial design and is the owner of the award winning design firm B. garcia Designs based in Montclair, New Jersey. She is a “Green Design” LEED Accredited Professional through the United States Green Building Council. She is also a member of ASID and a “WELL AP” accredited design professional, which utilizes healthy concepts to promote human health and wellness within the built environment.

 

Blanche was also the principal designer featured in the popular Travel Channel reality series, "Hotel Impossible" for five seasons, and is the author of her book “Empowered Design: A Design Plan for Living.” HGTV also named her one of their Faces of Design. Her client list ranges from celebrities, corporations, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, & homes all over the world. She has been featured on the cover of Montclair Magazine, and in the pages of Boutique Design Magazine, Inspire Design, the Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, US Magazine, Red Book, and more.

 

Blanche will not only spearhead the Interior Design of all of the built spaces within the community, but she will also utilize her LEED and WELL expertise to thread wellness into Merriwood’s infrastructure and culture. Every design element, as it relates to each one of the homes and gathering space will support a holistic balance of beauty and healthy living.

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Ben Falk & Cornelius Murphy

Whole Systems Design

Whole Systems Design is responsible for the agricultural plan overlay for Merriwood. As a practice, WSD plans, develops and manages resilient human habitats - landscape and infrastructure systems - that yield perennial abundance and enduring value.  These become adaptive, resilient and relatively secure in a future of peak oil, climate instability, and deepening economic insolvency. They plan, develop, and manage land-based wealth preservation and security projects for those with the forethought to invest an abundance of present day resources to reduce their family's vulnerability to future food, energy and other supply-chain disturbances, as well as peak-oil, climatic, economic and other events. 

 

Developing this solar infrastructure requires a multi-disciplinary approach integrating ecology, agriculture, architecture, and construction.  Their process and results are scalable from residential properties to neighborhoods to regions.

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Ryan Francis

Partner/Builder

Mr. Francis is the owner and CEO of Maine Construction Group. Maine Construction Group is one of Maine’s leading construction contractors delivering high quality home renovations, home remodels, new home construction and commercial construction for over ten years. They are also the only authorized independent retailer of Prestige Homes in the greater Bangor area. The houses will be around a core manufactured by the “Holmes on Holmes” endorsed Prestige Homes. Maine Construction Group has a focus on energy efficient buildings that minimize greenhouse gas emissions and construction waste. They are proud to be the on-location builder for the Travel Channel show Hotel Impossible with CEO Ryan Francis making numerous on-camera appearances. Maine Construction Group is also the only authorized independent retailer of Prestige Homes in the greater Bangor area. Ryan Francis is a native of the Downeast region of Maine, is an Eagle Scout, and is involved in numerous civic organizations.

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Briburn Architecture

Architects

BRIBURN is an award-winning architectural firm in Maine that specializes in energy-efficient planet-positive design. BRIBURN practices Architecture for life: The creation of architecture that is timeless, environmentally friendly, beautiful, and long-lasting. It is architecture that focuses on the experiences of the building’s occupants, enhancing their daily lives with natural daylight, excellent ventilation, and delightful spaces that engage their artful minds. It is architecture that is mindful of our finite resources and respectful of the natural environment. It is architecture that will stand the test of time by being very durable, simple to operate, economical to maintain, and beautiful.

 

We are at a pivotal place in the history of our environment and BRIBURN takes their role in it seriously. Their understanding of sustainability is deep and their commitment true, being at the forefront of building science, energy efficiency, and the latest sustainable products and techniques. While many other firms struggle to keep up with the latest energy codes (even while touting themselves as green) BRIBURN is working on buildings that heat themselves almost entirely with the sun, offset the costs of high-performing building envelopes with less expensive mechanical systems. By energy modeling all of their designs they are able to balance investments with savings, reduce consumption, increase durability, ensure high indoor air quality, and incorporate healthy, low-toxin, resource-efficient materials.

 

BRIBURN has brought to fruition the Nation’s first Passive House high school for the Maine Coast Waldorf School, Maine’s first WELL certified office for the Nature Conservancy in Maine, and is presently finishing up work on what will be Maine’s first Living Building Challenge project (The Ecology School). They have also been responsible for numerous LEED, net zero, net positive, and passive house projects. Their work has been often featured in Maine Home+Design Magazine, Green and Healthy Maine Homes, and is also featured Downeast Homes, Fine Homebuilding, and Dwell. Book publications include, Nature Inside - A Biophilic Guide, and Passive House Details – Solutions for High Performance Design. Most recently, their work can be seen on HGTV’s Urban Oasis 2020.

 

The Merriwood team is led by Principal Architect Christopher Briley, and Project Manager, Ian Parlin. Chris is a Maine Licensed Architect, a Certified Passive House Consultant, and LEED accredited professional with over 26 years experience in the field of architecture and environmental design. He is a Co-host and founder of the Green Architects Lounge podcast, one of the original developers of the Pretty Good House movement, a member of NESEA Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, a member of PHAUS (Passive House Alliance U.S.) and a member and one of the founding board members of PassivhausMAINE.

 

Ian Parlin started his career working in Scotland specializing in historic building restoration, improving the energy efficiency of older buildings and extending their lives. After returning to Maine in 2004 Ian worked on a variety of environmentally responsible building types from single family homes to commercial buildings and public schools. The process of designing an energy efficient, low maintenance home for his parents inspired Ian to join Briburn and focus on this type of work. Ian is a LEED Accredited Professional and has been involved with numerous sustainably focused projects.

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Whole Systems Design

Planning

Whole Systems Design identifies, designs, develops, and manages resilient human habitats - landscape and infrastructure systems - that yield perennial abundance and enduring value. We site, design, plant and build the elements of sustaining places: Permaculture and regenerative farm systems, natural buildings and infrastructure, outdoor living spaces, food gardens, orchards, watercourses, ponds, woodlands, meadows, pasture. We site buildings and roadways, design stonewalls and outbuildings and construct these components. We also produce management plans to ensure the success of these systems. All of our projects are designed for climate change.

 

These sites become adaptive, resilient and relatively secure in a future of peak oil, climate instability, and deepening economic insolvency.  We plan, develop, and manage land-based wealth preservation and security projects for those with the forethought to invest an abundance of present day resources to reduce their family's vulnerability to future food, energy and other supply-chain disturbances, as well as peak-oil, climatic, economic and other events. 

 

Through our planning partner Whole Systems Design Collective, we design and implement regenerative food, fuel, and shelter systems that operate on current solar energy.  These are homesteads, farms and schools fit for a challenging future of peak oil, climate change and economic transition.

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Merriwood Sustainable Community

Merriwood is a place beyond the edge of the paved world, where people can unwind with comfort and security. Merriwood is a planned lakefront community with a working farm, lodge, wellness center,  and other unique sustainability and resiliency assets.

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