Girl Scout Cadettes help spread awareness on their way to a Silver Award

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:
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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.

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Farrel-McWhirter Park, where Anna and Erika planted trees and surveyed volunteers on Green Redmond Day.

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:

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Anna’s beautiful poster will be gracing bulletin boards this spring to promote volunteer events:
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1,500 volunteers make Green City Days great in 2015

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:

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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.

Heroes of Green Everett: Cari Krippner

What do trombones, native plants, and Silver Lake have in common? Cari Krippner!

Cari in red in the back right with her stalwart volunteers at Thornton A. Sullivan
Cari in red in the back right with her stalwart volunteers at Thornton A. Sullivan

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!

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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!

Heroes of Green Everett: Sara Noland

SaraNolandatSorticultureSara 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!

If you are interested in becoming a Forest Steward, contact Norah, and stay tuned for an orientation for new volunteers this fall!

Tomorrow is Neighborday! How are you celebrating?

neighbordayApril 27th is officially Neighborday, so we’d like to salute all of the awesome things that Green Cities volunteers are doing in their neighborhoods all year. Bringing people together, building community, creating meaningful and welcoming public spaces, improving our urban environmental health . . . the list goes on.

The website GOOD has included a lot of coverage lately leading up to Neighborday, inviting folks across the country to “a global celebration of the people with whom we share space.” They’ve posted some  theoretical pieces on what makes good “neighboring”, and a hands-on toolkit with things you can download to get started with your own ideas. Neighborday is being celebrated across the country with fun events like pot-lucks, skill-shares, scavenger hunts, and art projects.

Want to celebrate Neighborday by volunteering in your local neighborhood natural area? Check out Green Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland, Redmond, Kent, and Everett‘s websites for the next chance to jump in on a work party.

Get out and meet your neighbors! Happy Neighborday from the Green Cities Network.

It’s National Volunteer Week!

Hello Green Cities, welcome to National Volunteer Week 2012!

While we are pretty much beside ourselves with gratitude for our volunteers every single week, we’re jumping on the bandwagon to take this extra chance to celebrate the people who make Green Cities the program it is.

Thank you volunteers!!

We couldn’t have done it without you. This week, the Green Cities Network is 6 cities strong (welcome Everett!), working on the ground to restore and maintain our public urban greenspaces all over the Puget Sound. Hundreds of acres are in active restoration. Tons of ivy and blackberry have been removed from our parks and natural areas. Thousands of native trees, shrubs, and groundcover plants have been planted.

In 2011, Green Cities Network volunteers donated 100,000 hours to urban natural area restoration! That is amazing. Thank you so much for everything you do to keep our cities healthier, our water and air cleaner, our communities more vibrant! There’s no way we could say it enough, but thank you.

President Obama’s official proclamation encourages you to keep up the good work: “I call upon all Americans to observe this week by volunteering in service projects across our country and pledging to make service a part of their daily lives.” He also waxes poetic on volunteerism in a way that sure strikes a chord with us:

“Service is a lifelong pursuit that strengthens the civic and economic fabric of our Nation. With every hour and every act, our lives are made richer, our communities are drawn closer, and our country is forged stronger by the dedication and generous spirit of volunteers.”

So put two things on your to-do list this week: make a date with a work party coming up in Seattle, Tacoma, Redmond, Kirkland, or Kent. Then, take a minute to bask in the national spotlight, and know that you’re part of something pretty amazing.

Working for a healthy forest and a strong community

Cascade Land Conservancy’s own Weston Brinkley talks about the research he is doing in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Research Station. His study looks at what motivates the volunteers who are working across the region to keep our forests, wetlands, meadows, prairies, and other natural areas healthy. This includes our Green Cities, and also countless other volunteer organizations. Volunteer projects donate hundreds of thousands of hours a year to restoration, and represent a huge investment of resources by the organizations that support them. We are looking forward to research like this encouraging programs to better support our amazing volunteers while keeping up the region’s environmental health.

This video was posted by Kate Burke and Branden Fitzpatrick on the University of Oregon’s Science Stories initiative website. There are a lot of other interesting articles on there too – check out more!