Continued Learning

This past Saturday we had a great plant ID and forest association walk at the Northwest Native Plant Garden at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma with twenty community members participating!

Located in a well-maintained native plant garden, this identification walk focused primarily on native plants, their natural associations with other plants, and the kinds of habitat they prefer.  The Northwest Native Plant Garden was an ideal location for this type of walk because it features designed habitats such as the forest garden (semi-shade), the pond garden (wet areas and margin), the waterfall garden (moist shade), the woodland garden (dry shade), and the meadow (dry sun).

Native Plant ID Walk, Northwest Native Plant Garden
Community members break out of the forest to learn about meadow plants and habitat

Participants received information about plant propagation and then learned how to identify many plants that propagate well.  From those recommended in the Green Tacoma Partnership Habitat Steward Field Guide, we learned how to identify black twinberry (Lonicera involucrata), Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), various roses (Rosa spp.), salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), willow (Salix spp.), spirea (Spiraea douglasii), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), Indian-plum (Oemleria cerasiformis), mock-orange (Philadelphus lewisii), red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), and western redcedar (Thuja plicata).

The next plant identification walk is scheduled for Saturday, June 15th at Oak Tree Park (sign up).  As an active restoration site, participants will not only be able to hone their native plant ID skills, but there will also be ample opportunity to learn more about invasive plants commonly found in urban forests and greenspaces and the best way to manage those.  As we progress through the year and plants begin to flower, fruit and develop seeds, we will offer educational walks and workshops on seed collection and dispersal.  All of these educational opportunities, as well as regular volunteer work parties where you can join friends, family and neighbors in improving the community can be found through CEDAR.  Sign up online and invite your friends!

This educational opportunity was made possible through funding from the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry program.

Making Waves

Last month I attended the Partners in Community Forestry conference, hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation, in Portland, Oregon. A common theme echoing throughout the conference was how programs and ideas are making waves and subsequent ripples that extend beyond their own individual realms. At the end of the conference, the attendees were given a small rock with a “make waves” stamp. Right now, my rock is resting on my computer’s monitor, reminding me each day to go out and make a few splashes and ripples.

So, what kind of waves am I making? Since August, I was married amidst a five-day blur of family and friends gathered under large Ponderosa pines, went on a fabulous honeymoon to Corsica, helped my aunt and niece prepare for a move to Norway, surprised my best friend in her favorite Oakland cemetery for her birthday, and baked my first quiche with the fresh eggs from our three chickens, Gizzy, Squeaky, and Bhindi. Those are just a few of the lovely waves in my personal life.

At work, the waves are crashing on our shores daily. As the director of the Green Cities program, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to see the wide range of our work first-hand. Last week, representatives from all five of the Green Cities came together for the first time over a lunchtime brownbag, I was lucky enough to be a guest lecturer for an ESRM (Environmental Science and Resource Management) course at the University of Washington, and we finalized a Joint Venture Agreement with a stellar research team at the US Forest Service and King County. The brownbag was proof that the initial splash of the Green Seattle Partnership created waves and ripples that are now extending to more cities than ever imagined five years ago. The lecture was an excellent opportunity to show students how the basics of ecology and knowledge of forest systems are being applied to real-world projects in our Green Cities efforts; the splash of learning is creating waves and ripples in urban forest restoration. And, finally, the new research that will come from our partnership with the US Forest will surely produce a few waves and ripples for stewardship programs near and far. And, that was all in just three days!

Sometimes I feel like we are pushing a giant boulder, uphill both ways, while other times we are merely lobbing small pebbles. At moments, the work ahead of us seems insurmountable: “You are doing what?” “Trying to remove invasive species from how many acres?” “How are you possibly engaging the community at that level?” These are not uncommon questions. However, each answer is usually followed by a reaction of “how cool” or “wow, that’s amazing”. Those statements help us feel that we are up for the challenge, making small and big splashes each day and sending ripples out into the world along the way.

Happy End of 2009!

-Ara