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Goodbye and thanks, Mariska!

September 1, 2014

Mariska_Kecskes_Invase_Weed_Hunter  Nighmares of a Stewardship Associate

After two years working with Forterra, outgoing Stewardship Associate, Mariska Kecskes, is prone to nightmares about invasive plants – like knotweed being planted in her front yard or a tattoo of a Western hemlock being mistakenly inked on her arm as English ivy.

In the past year as our AmeriCorps Individual Placement, Mariska lead over 900 volunteers to complete over 63,000 square feet of restoration and maintenance and install over 1,000 native trees and shrubs. She spent her first year with Forterra as part of the restoration crew with Washington Conservation Corps, ripping out invasive species throughout the Puget Sound region.

Mariska is busy wrapping up loose ends during her last few days with Forterra but took some time to answer a few questions.

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First things first. Do you like eating blackberries anymore?
Yes. I like to think that by eating blackberries, I’m preventing birds from eating them and spreading them everywhere.

Why did you decide to work a second year with Forterra?
I have always been impressed by Forterra’s holistic approach to environmental issues so I applied to their Stewardship Associate – AmeriCorps Individual Placement position. I believe that it’s important to not just focus on one isolated issue.

What was rewarding about your job?
It was great to see the progress that can be made during one work party. You start with a huge blackberry bush patch and by the end feel so accomplished. It helps you feel proactive about restoration and understand why maintaining a healthy habitat in and outside of the city is a long but necessary process.

photoWhat is challenging about your job?
Sometimes it’s hard to detach myself from my restoration work. Driving along I-5 is a struggle now because I look around and can’t help but get stressed out by the amount of weeds along the highway.

What’s something cool you’ve learned?
I’m happy that I’m able to identify so many plants. Not only does it impress colleagues, turns out it’s also a great way to impress dates on hikes! Nothing makes you an object of desire like pointing out all the edible wild berries or saving someone from a stinging nettle.

Before you leave us, do you have any tips to share?
First, if you ever take part in restoration – as a volunteer or otherwise – try to visit the site again in the future. It is really gratifying to watch your impact literally grow and it helps you understand the importance of the work you did. Second, when you spend a lot of time pulling blackberry bushes and have endless scratches, it’s easiest to just tell people that you have angry cats.

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Mariska and Andrea talking trees at the Rainier Valley Summer Streets festival in August

Mariska will be heading to graduate school for an MSc in Environmental Science & Policy at Central European University. We wish her the best of luck and thank her for her incredible two years of service! If you or someone you know is interested in joining Forterra’s Restoration Crew through the Washington Conservation Corps, check out WCC’s website for more information!

Celebrate First Creek and the Puget Sound during Salishan Green Days

May 22, 2014
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first creek“Puget Sound Starts Here” – We have all seen this phrase marking our street storm drains. Yet how many of us really know what this means or how true this phrase really is? There are few things quite as beautiful as the Puget Sound and it is one of the many things that make this region such a great place to live. However, beneath the outward beauty is a dirty reality that often goes unseen: Annually, 14 million pounds of toxic chemicals enter Puget Sound waters , and this doesn’t just come from waste discarded directly into the Sound.

The Puget Sound is like a circulatory system, with rivers and creeks moving water to the Sound, like veins move blood to our hearts. This means that the things that go into these creeks and rivers matter later down the system when they reach the Puget Sound – including invasive species that grow along shorelines, garbage carelessly tossed on the ground, and especially the chemicals of urban life that travel through storm water runoff.

May is Puget Sound Starts Here month, with the hopes of encouraging individuals to do their part to keep the Sound healthy. Following this spirit, the Green Tacoma Partnership is hosting the first ever Salishan Green Days. Next week Green Tacoma, in partnership with the Salishan Association, The Tacoma Housing Authority, the City of Tacoma, and Forterra— will be running events focused on the health of First Creek in Tacoma. First Creek is an important storm water fed creek that flows into the Puyallup River, and eventually the Puget Sound. The creek is culturally significant for the Puyallup tribe and was once known to be laden with salmon; it has since been heavily impacted by surrounding development and infested with invasive species.

Salishan Green days will be May 29th- 31st, with different events each day. All events are free, family-friendly, and full of exciting activities:

Thursday May 29 : First Creek and Puget Sound Need Our Help
3pm-5pm
Salishan Family Investment Center (1724 East 44th St, Tacoma, WA)

Learn more about this important community asset through hands-on activities and presentations! Enjoy free snacks and fun giveaways.
Spanish and Russian interpreters provided.

Friday May 30th: Composting, Recycling, and Garbage…Oh My!
3pm-5pm
Salishan Family Investment Center (1724 East 44th St, Tacoma, WA)

Learn the ways of proper recycling and play a little Garbage Bingo. Enjoy free snacks, fun giveaway items, and prizes for our Garbage Bingo winners!  Spanish, Russian, Korean, and Vietnamese interpreters provided. 

Saturday May 31st : First Creek Restoration and Clean-up Event 
9am-12pm
East T St and East 39th St, Tacoma WA

Join us to help restore First Creek by removing invasive weeds and trash. Stick around after for a light lunch and fun giveaway items. Spanish and Russian interpreters will be provided.

To learn more and register for these events, click here.
Questions?  Contact: Jennifer Chang  jchang@forterra.org

The 6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium – Climate Change and the Urban Forest

May 2, 2014
photo credit: Stephanie Jeter

Urban Forests in our region are expected to suffer negative impacts due to climate change. At the same time, they play an integral role in mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing temperatures, sequestering carbon, and capturing stormwater runoff from increases in precipitation.   The 6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium, hosted by Plant Amnesty and the University of Washington,  takes an in-depth look at climate change and considers the impact to the urban forests in our region. Learn about the climatic changes our region can expect and strategies that can be used to plan and manage for a healthy and resilient urban forest. Regional experts will discuss the expected changes to the climate, urban forest responses, and what urban foresters and advocates can do to prepare. Presentations will be relevant to urban foresters, landscape professionals, restoration ecologists, tree care professionals, consulting arborists, sustainability professionals, urban planners, landscape designers, landscape architects, municipal managers, and tree advocates.

Here are the details:

What:    6th Annual Urban Forest Symposium
When:  Wednesday, May 28, 9am to 4:30pm
Where:University of Washington Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98105
Cost:      $75 per person. Lunches available for $15. Free lunch included for the first 100 registrants.
Contact: urbhort@uw.edu or 206-685-8033.
Register: http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/news/urban-forest/

Presenters include:
Greg McPherson, Research Forester, Urban Ecosystems and Social Dynamics – Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Jim Robbins, journalist and author of The Man Who Planted Trees
Nick Bond, Washington State Climatologist and Principal Research Scientist for the UW Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean
Nancy Rottle, RLA, ASLA, Associate Professor at University of Washington and founding Director of the UW Green Futures Research and Design Lab
Tom Hinckley, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Drew Zwart, Ph.D. Plant Pathology and Physiology, Bartlett Tree Experts
Municipal representatives on putting urban forest-related climate change plans into action

 

 

Photo credit: Stephanie Jeter.

Seattle Parks Rewrites the Story of Memory Loss

March 5, 2014

Dementia-2-1024x768Yet another reason our urban forests are such an important part of the City: they help improve the lives of people living with dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 68 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s hard to change the statistics regarding memory loss, but Seattle Parks and Recreation is trying to change the memory loss story. By offering programming specifically designed to comfort, engage, and inspire people suffering from memory loss, recreation specialist Mari Becker says, “We are part of the movement to transform what it means to be living with dementia.”

Programming includes going for walks in the parks, watercolor classes, and other activities to be added this spring. Participants really appreciate the social aspect: “Living with memory loss doesn’t have to mean staying at home, feeling isolated,” Becker said. Being outside and experiencing nature is also known to help Alzheimer’s patients, including improving sleep patterns and decreasing aggression.

By volunteering in a forested park, you can help make sure we have healthy, safe, natural public spaces for these kinds of programs, and for everyone in the City. Click here to volunteer with the Green Seattle Partnership.

Plant a Forest and Build Community on Green Seattle Day 2013

September 23, 2013

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Join the Green Seattle Partnership to celebrate and restore Seattle’s beautiful forested parks for the 8th annual Green Seattle Day on Saturday, November 2nd from 10 am to 2 pm!   Green Seattle Day is made possible by the City of Seattle as well as the generosity of our lead corporate sponsor, Odwalla.

Green Seattle Day is a meaningful way to connect with nature and create a healthy and vibrant community by planting native trees and shrubs in a park near you. The event takes place in 17 parks city-wide. Seattle’s own West Duwamish Greenbelt is this year’s central hub site, which will be hosted by Nature Consortium and Forterra.

The Green Seattle Partnership is a collaboration between the City of Seattle, non-profit partners, and thousands of committed volunteers that seek to create a sustainable network of healthy forested parklands by removing invasive species and replanting with native shrubs and trees.  Without a coordinated effort, Seattle is at risk of losing 70% of its forests in just 20 years.

Green Seattle Day is a celebration of Seattle’s 2500 acres of forested parks, the committed neighbors who care for them, and the kick-off event for the 2012-2013 restoration planting season.  We supply all tools and supplies. So, grab a water bottle, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to have fun in the forest! We are sure you will leave the parks with a smile on your face. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Learn more and REGISTER for your preferred park at www.greenseattle.org. If your company or organization is interested in participating as a volunteer team, contact Kim Frappier at kfrappier@forterra.org.

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Green Redmond Day is coming!

August 29, 2013
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RYPAC at Farrel-McWhirter_3.30.2013_NorahKates_21Hello all Redmond-area volunteers! The first ever Green Redmond Day will be Saturday, October 26th! Save the date!!

Green Redmond Day will be a kickoff to planting season, with tree-planting work parties at parks around the city, as well as a celebration of our urban forest and the importance of trees in our community. Volunteers can join in the fun to help restore a healthy urban forest to city parks and be a part of the Green Redmond Partnership. A big thank you goes out to REI for making this day possible through a generous grant.

For more information on Green Redmond Day, stay tuned to this blog post and www.greenredmond.org.

Would you like to sign up to volunteer on Green Redmond Day? Please fill out this quick survey, or email greenredmond@forterra.org.

We can’t wait to plant with you in October!

- the Green Redmond team

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