More than 1,500 volunteers converged at area parks and natural areas during the months of October and November for Green City Day celebrations across the Puget Sound area. Seven cities participated. This year marked two milestones: the oldest Green City, Seattle, is celebrating its 11th anniversary and, Tukwila and Snoqualmie officially launched their programs.
A total of 6,459 native plants were planted, 49,395 square feet of invasive plant material was removed and 45 cubic yards of mulch was spread. This work was completed by 1,575 volunteers who clocked a combined total of 4,734 volunteer service hours. Volunteers came from all over the region and represented high school Key Clubs, Boy Scouts of America, elementary school students, area colleges and businesses including eBay, Homegrown, Brooks, REI and Boeing to name just a few.
Green Cities Days are part of the Green City Partnerships representing the cities of Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, Everett, Tukwila, Snoqualmie, Kent, Puyallup and Tacoma. These cities have a goal to restore 9,000 acres of forested parks and natural areas while building community through stewardship.
“Our goals are for a sustainable, volunteer led program where our natural open spaces are improved and healthy, with invasive species eradicated from those areas and thriving native trees and shrubs have reassumed a dominate role in our forest composition,” says Chris Beale of the City of Puyallup.
Restored forested parks and natural areas mitigate urban flooding, helps clean air and water resources, provides home for wildlife and allows people to connect with nature.
For more information about the Green City Partnership, visit the partnership’s founding organization Forterra.
Green Tacoma Day: Held October 1 at 9 sites across the City. Green Tacoma had 130 volunteers who planted 80 native trees and shrubs, including several large trees at Titlow Park. Volunteers also removed 2,500 square feet of invasive plants and spread 25 cubic yards of mulch.
Green Kent Day: Held October 22 at Morrill Meadows Park. With beautiful sunshine as the backdrop, 123 volunteers removed more than 32,000 square feet of invasive plants, planted 102 native shrubs and spread more than 20 cubic yards of mulch.
Green Everett Day: Postponed for one week due to the predicted storm of the century, Green Everett Day was held on October 22 and boasted 80 volunteers who planted 477 native plants and spread more than 300 cubic yards of mulch.
Green Redmond Day: The event on October 29 attracted 109 volunteers at three parks. While the wind and rain tried to dampen spirits, students from John James Audubon Elementary School and other volunteers planted 708 native plants.
Green Kirkland Day: Even wind and rain could not stop the 115 dedicated volunteers at Green Kirkland Day. Held on November 12 at 4 city parks across Kirkland, volunteers removed 3,232 square feet of invasive plants and planted 630 native plants. Lynn Zwaagstra, Kirkland Parks and Community Services Director, reflected on how the “work by volunteers shows a tangible impact.”
Green Puyallup Day: The second annual Green Puyallup Day was held on November 5. This year the event expanded from 1 site to 3 with more than 60 volunteers removing invasive plants and planting native trees and shrubs. A total of 11,000 square feet of invasive blackberry was removed and 170 native plants were added to the understory habitat at Meeker and Silver creeks.
Green Seattle Day: Held on November 12 across 15 sites, Green Seattle Day attracted 958 participants. More than 300 volunteers descended on Camp Long. Over the course of 3 hours, volunteers planted an amazing 4,392 native plants.
In addition to the official Green City Days above, the cities of Snoqualmie and Tukwila held special inaugural events to kick off their Green City Partnerships.
Green Tukwila and Duwamish Alive: Working side by side with the Duwamish Alive Coalition, two sites in Tukwila attracted 158 volunteers and planted more than 1,000 native plants. More than 5,000 square feet of invasive plants was also removed and 100 cubic yards of mulch was spread.
In Snoqualmie two restoration events were held that attracted 46 volunteers, removed 3,600 square feet of invasive plants, planted 54 native plants and spread 300 cubic yards of mulch.
A new partnership has begun between many agencies and organizations working together for healthy parks and healthy people in Tukwila. The City of Tukwila, non-profits Forterra, EarthCorps, and the SCA, and local businesses, faith-based groups, and neighbors are all helping to care for public parks, shorelines, and natural areas across the city.
We believe that Tukwila deserves great parks, green trees, and beautiful shorelines along the Duwamish River. If you agree, join us!
What’s happening now
Come join us at the fall kickoff event and planting celebration on Saturday, October 22nd!
Volunteer planting will be happening at two places along the Duwamish Shoreline and at the Duwamish Hill Preserve as part of Duwamish Alive!, an annual event where volunteers come together all along the Duwamish River to plant trees and shrubs, remove invasive weeds, and keep the river healthy for fish, other animals and plants, and for people. A healthy river means a healthy community. Please join us for this fun, family-friendly event! No experience necessary. Gloves, tools, and materials provided.
Why are we doing this?
Did you know that trees and green plants play a huge role in a healthy and happy city? There is a strong link between getting outside into nature – even just a little bit – and better mental health and physical well-being. Check out this story in the New York Times about walking under trees and the effect that has on your brain by helping to lower stress and increase positive thinking. Take that with how much mental and physical health are interrelated, and it’s not surprising that many doctors like this one are telling their patients to get outside more. Well-cared-for parks that get regular use, especially with neighborhood volunteers getting involved, also help reduce crime and keep cities safer.
If you want to dig further into the science of all of these benefits that nearby nature is ready to give us, this is a great website with a lot of information.
But we can’t enjoy it if we don’t have it. Tukwila’s parks and natural areas need some TLC to make sure they stay healthy too. So the Green Tukwila Partnership will be planting trees and other plants, pulling invasive weeds, and working together to make sure these public places stay green. We can’t do it alone.
Be a part of something great happening in Tukwila
Click the links above to volunteer with us at Duwamish Alive on Saturday, October 22nd.
Join our mailing list to stay updated about the Green Tukwila Partnership.
Want to do more? We are gathering a team of volunteers to adopt different parks and help lead the effort to keep them healthy and green. You can learn about trees and environmental restoration, bring your neighbors together around fun projects, and be a local leader. We are especially looking at North Wind’s Weir, Duwamish Hill Preserve, Tukwila Community Center, Riverton Park, the Duwamish Shoreline (section just north of the I-5 overpass), Thorndyke Elementary School, Crestview Park, Crystal Springs Park, Tukwila Park, and Bicentennial Park, but we want to hear your favorites, too. Is there a Tukwila Park or natural area in the city that you think could use a little love? Email us to talk about ways to get involved.
If you have questions about the Green Tukwila Partnership, or ideas you want to share, don’t hesitate to be in touch. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (206) 905-6943.
As a guest post on our blog, we are thrilled to welcome all-star Green Redmond volunteer, Anna, who is working on her Silver Award for the Girl Scouts. It’s been great having her and her project teammate Erika help with volunteer outreach this year. Here are Anna’s thoughts on the project so far:
Hi, I’m Anna from the Girl Scout Cadette Troop 42534. I’m currently in middle school and so is my fellow Girl Scout, Erika. We are working with the Green Redmond Partnership to earn our Silver Award. To earn the Silver Award, a Girl Scout must complete a project that leaves a lasting and sustainable impact on our community and takes at least fifty hours to complete. It is the highest award a Cadette can earn, and the second highest Girl Scout Award, below the Gold Award.
For our project, we are trying to get more people to come to Green Redmond events, especially in the winter, when the blackberries are being cleared. It’s also still important to have volunteers in the other seasons for clearing ivy and other invasive species, planting native species, and mulching around plants. We want to reach out to people who haven’t previously considered volunteering.
We chose to do this project because we wanted to help the environment more than just us two working with the invasive species and planting. We wanted bring in more of the community to help, to bring in more hands than just our four, because it matters that our parks are green and we have trees growing in our city. It’s important that the animals have a place to live and people have parks to enjoy.
At a fall volunteer event, we ran a survey. We found that a large group of volunteers had heard of the event through cub scouts or girl scouts. The next most common way people found out about the event was through their family. A few more people found out through the Redmond newsletter, and the rest found out through a variety of different sources such as school, Peachtree newsletter, Honor Society, and emails from the City of Redmond. Our results lead us to wonder how the family members and troop leaders who told the volunteers about the event heard about it themselves.
We also asked volunteers if they regularly read community bulletin boards. Only 37% reported that they do, which leads me to wonder where else we could put flyers so more people see them.
Our final question to volunteers was to find their reason for coming to the event. Most, about 47%, said they came just to help out, but there were also a large variety of other reasons, such as for college, service learning, to get volunteer hours, or to go out with their troop or family.
In the future, we will continue our quest for more volunteers. We plan to hang up our posters and post ads on websites like Facebook. We’ve learned that many people volunteer for groups as Girl Scouts or Cub Scouts, or for volunteer hours, and not as many people come without a group or without needing service hours.
So go out and volunteer! Not only will we appreciate it, but so will the Green Redmond Partnership and everyone who uses the parks. It’s a great way to connect with your community and neighbors. We’ve got to meet members of the Redmond Parks and Trails Commission and a WA representative for the US Congress. Volunteering is fun and gives a feeling of accomplishment.
Here are the results of the survey Anna and Erika conducted:
Anna’s beautiful poster will be gracing bulletin boards this spring to promote volunteer events:
The Puget Sound regional event series known as Green City Days grew this year, finishing strong with a total of 1,512 volunteers participating in seven events over the course of two months. These volunteers worked together to restore and explore local green spaces, planting just over 9,000 native trees and shrubs that will grow up into the future of our healthy urban forest.
The Green City Days series added two more cities this year, to include in total: Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland, Kent, Redmond, Everett, and Puyallup. While the various Green City Partnerships that created these days regularly host more than 1,500 other restoration events throughout the year, Green City Days are special, celebrating our forested parks and natural areas and the many volunteers and partners that help community-based stewardship programs thrive throughout the year. Businesses, schools, community groups, non-profit organizations, and individuals joined together during these annual service days in October and November to kickoff the Pacific Northwest’s planting season.
In 2015, Green City Days volunteers contributed 4,663 hours of time to restore 35 different urban parks and green spaces across the Puget Sound.
It was the first year that Kirkland and Puyallup hosted a signature event of this kind, and both had a rainy experience on November 14th. But stormy weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Sharon Rodman, Green Kirkland Partnership Supervisor with Kirkland Parks & Community Services said, “Kirkland’s first Green Kirkland Day was a great success and it inspired us to make it an annual tradition.”
The Green Puyallup Partnership, launched earlier this year, is already getting great community support. A volunteer in Puyallup, excited by the effort, stated, “Green Puyallup Day and other events like it are a step in the right direction. Although there are many miles to go, I’m glad I could help make this happen.”
Green Kirkland Day:
Green Puyallup Day:
Green City Days are great opportunities for youth and families to get outside together and have fun while giving back to their local parks. The Green Kent Partnership hosted a fall “Student Challenge” among local high schools leading up to Green Kent Day, which was a huge success. Kent-Meridian High School pulled off a real upset this year with the most number of students attending fall volunteer events, winning bragging rights and prestigious green bandanas!
Green Kent Day:
Tacoma’s First Creek Middle School teacher Donna Chang continued her school’s annual tradition of hosting Green Tacoma Day to get students and neighbors involved in caring for the natural area adjacent to the school. After a morning of hard work, all of the participants were appreciated with donated prizes and pizza to celebrate.
Green Tacoma Day:
Highlights from Green Redmond Day included a visit from Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who dug in and planted trees alongside everyone else, and a record-setting number of volunteers despite harsh weather that day.
Green Redmond Day:
Green Everett Day was the only event that lucked out with beautiful, sunny weather. A record turnout of 105 volunteers participated, a 40% increase from last year.
Green Everett Day:
Green Seattle Day:
Green Seattle Day, the largest event, celebrated its 10th anniversary. Now an annual tradition for many residents, the event continued to draw a big crowd with 792 volunteers across the city at 16 different parks.
About Green Cities
Access to healthy parks is vital to our cities and our quality of life. Eight Puget Sound cities, including Kent, Everett, Kirkland, Redmond, Seattle, Tacoma, Tukwila, and Puyallup, currently make up the Green Cities Network. Collectively, they are working to restore, maintain, and care for over 7,800 acres of publicly-owned urban natural areas and forested parks. Each Green City partners with Forterra to establish a community-based restoration program that brings together local non-profits, community groups, city agencies, neighborhood leaders, and local businesses to support healthy urban green spaces for the future of our region. You can learn more about the Green City Partnerships and Forterra at forterra.org/greencities.
What do trombones, native plants, and Silver Lake have in common? Cari Krippner!
When Cari is not making music with the Rainbow City Band or teaching adults and children about forest wildlife conservation, you will find her leading volunteers as a Forest Steward at Thornton A. Sullivan Park. Cari’s passion and dedication to her community and her skill as a teacher shines in all that she does for the Green Everett Partnership.
A K-8 teacher for thirty years, Cari currently works as a private tutor and substitute teacher with the Everett School District while she pursues an endorsement in Special Education with the University of Washington. She holds a master’s degree in Teaching Conservation Biology from Miami University in Ohio. In addition to volunteering with Green Everett, Cari has served as a docent with Woodland Park Zoo for 18 years, volunteers with the Adopt-A-Road trash pickup, runs a successful pet sitting business, and is very active in her church, Advent Lutheran Church in Mill Creek, where she teaches Sunday school. Phew!
Cari has called Western Washington home for nearly 20 years and the Silver Lake neighborhood of Everett for six. What she values most about living in Everett are the many green space
s to enjoy with her family and dog, the accessibility to cultural and educational opportunities, and the laid back atmosphere. When asked what inspires and motivates her to be involved in Green Everett, Cari tells us: “I really like this project because it is making a direct impact on the future of the parks. I am making a real difference making the park a better place to be. I have ownership in the project and have a stake in the future of the park.”
Check out upcoming work parties with Cari at Thornton A. Sullivan Park, listed on the Green Everett website!
If you want to be a Green Everett Hero, we are looking for new Forest Stewards for Everett Parks! Contact Norah, and stay tuned for an orientation for new volunteers this fall!
We plant hardy, native plants in all of our restoration projects. In addition to playing important roles in our healthy forests, these species evolved to the conditions in the Northwest, and for the most part can thrive with a lot less intensive care than most plants. However, even these tough guys are struggling in this summer’s unusually hot, dry weather.
If you spread wood chip mulch at a volunteer event this spring or winter, right now our plants are saying a giant thank you. Like a natural buffer against extreme conditions, mulch helps slow down evaporation of water from soil, keeping plants wetter, cooler, and happier during dry weather. (Amazingly, mulch also keeps the ground warmer during cold winter days!) In many of our restoration sites, we are also implementing emergency watering measures to help extra-vulnerable new plantings from this past winter to survive the next months.
If you see your plants at home starting to wilt in the heat and dry weather we’ve been having, or worse yet, developing brown, dry tips or leaves, read on. Here are some things you can do to help your plants survive the summer:
Keep close watch: this summer has been much drier than usual, so pay a little extra attention and keep an eye out for signs of drought stress. You may need to water more often, especially if you have new plants that were recently planted. But remember that your neighbors will all be watering their plants more too, so follow the rest of these tips to conserve our water resources. As a bonus, you’ll be watering more effectively for your plants, too.
Water early, or water late: Watering your plants during the heat of the day will cause you to lose a lot to evaporation. Watering in the early morning, or late evening, when the sun is low and air temperatures are cooler, will allow more water to soak into the soil and get to your plants.
Water close to the ground: Instead of spraying high above plants, where it will quickly evaporate into the hot, dry air, point the watering stream as close to the soil as you can. Water slowly to allow it to soak into the soil instead of running off the surface. Soaker hoses, drip-irrigation setups, and tree watering bags can also help a lot.
Water deeply: a lot of water, slightly less often, is better then a little water more often. Water gets deeper down into soil and encourages plants to grow longer, stronger roots.
Think about shade: Very young plants that are having an especially tough time might benefit from partial shade covers made from lightweight cloth, narrow wood lattice, or old window screens.
More mulch! Something to cover the ground, like wood chip mulch, straw, or even gravel can help slow water from evaporating out of the soil. Mulch is your best friend for conserving water and helping your plants at the same time.
Let us know what works for you, and good luck!
Sara Noland brings a generous spirit, dedication, and a passion for the environment to all that she does. As a Forest Steward, she can be found leading work parties at Howarth Park and Rotary Park, supporting staff and volunteers at big events like Green Everett Day, or conducting outreach to the public at Sorticulture. As a wetland biologist, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Green Everett Partnership.
Sara grew up in the Renton area and spent many hours building treehouses in a nearby park. She attended UW and Western Washington University, where she studied zoology and journalism. Sara and her husband bought a teeny house in Everett in the early 1990s and have lived there with numerous cats ever since. As a biologist with a local consulting firm, Sara gets to work outside sometimes, delineating wetlands and doing wildlife surveys. But to counteract the time she has to spend at the computer writing reports, she gardens at the Red Barn Community Farm in the Snohomish Valley, and volunteers with Green Everett Partnership, as well as with King County Parks, Adopt-A-Stream Foundation, and the UW RareCare rare plant monitoring program.
The Green Everett Partnership is just that – a Partnership! Community volunteers are essential to restoring Everett’s forested parks and natural areas to health. In fact, from January to June of 2015, 298 volunteers participated in restoration! Way to go! Volunteers do everything from remove invasive plants, to mulching, and planting native trees and understory – they help with educating and reaching out to friends and neighbors, doing data entry or helping with office tasks, and bringing snacks to volunteer events.
But Forest Stewards like Sara, who have stepped up to adopt a park they love and help get others involved, are the heroes of the Partnership. Without their leadership, we could never hope to care for all of Everett’s amazing forested parks and natural areas. Forest Stewards get special training from Green Everett staff and learn how to lead their own forest restoration projects. They are our eyes and ears on the ground, helping us create a program that truly follows community priorities and brings parks and people together.
…Look for more heroes of Green Everett in the coming months!