On a gray but DRY Green Seattle Day, 300 enthusiastic volunteers gathered at Woodland Park to join the Green Seattle Partnership in restoring their local urban forest, kick off the restoration planting season and meet their neighbors. After registering, volunteers collected their vivid Green Seattle Partnership shirts and continued onto the coffee and snack table. As Mayor McGinn, Cascade Land Conservancy’s president, Gene Duvernoy, Council member, Sally Bagshaw, and Jim Greenfield rallied the volunteers with their words, the volunteers’ multi-colored jackets resembled a delicious bag of Skittles. Once opening remarks came to a close, the energetic mass of volunteers dispersed amongst their assigned work groups. Resembling dance troupes, each group was led in a wide array of stretches, safety talks and introductions by their highly competent Earth Corps leaders.
With the basics covered and tools dispersed, crew leaders guided their groups to the restoration sites. The next three hours were filled with a variety of activity that left event photographers busy with their cameras. Young children played in the dirt and jumped with vigor on shovels steadied by their parents. Teenage laughter rose from a troupe of girls as they rolled a fern on its side to release it from its pot. Throughout the restoration sites, the yellow vests of EarthCorps leads and Student Conservation Association could be seen assisting the pairs of volunteers as they gently secured native plants in their new homes. By the end of the day, volunteers planted over 1,200 shrubs, trees and groundcover plants to build a complete and healthy forest.
Of all the restoration that happened that day, my favorite to witness was the massive mulch line that snaked its way through the park. At least 100 volunteers stood side by side hurriedly shuttling buckets filled from a steaming mound of mulch in the parking lot to the restoration site. The mulch, when placed in a ring around plants, helps maintain essential moisture. The two lines of the mulching crews whooped in encouragement as they raced buckets down the line.
This same scene, with variations, repeated itself throughout the 20 Green Seattle Day parks with volunteer groups ranging from 10 to 300. Throughout all of these parks, the theme was similar: volunteers gathered to kick off the restoration planting season, make a difference in a local park and meet their neighbors. In total over 4,000 plants were put into the ground, mounds of mulch were transported and sites were prepped for future planting. Hats off to the over 1,000 volunteers who attended and the Green Seattle Partnership volunteers and staff that supported and ran the event!