Register now for the Green Kent Steward orientation

Come learn what the Green Kent Partnership is all about! The orientation will provide you with an understanding of how you can get involved as a Steward of your own restoration site or supporting other Stewards. You will also get a basic understanding of “tree-iage” and the four phases of restoration, plus have a lot of hands-on fun learning planting techniques and invasive removal. No experience necessary.  Register for the orientation by emailing Victoria, or call 253-856-5113 for more information.

HPIM1489March 23, 9:00 AM – Noon
Kent Senior Activity Center
600 E. Smith Street

Stewards are committed volunteers who lead a restoration project at a park or natural area, with the support of Green Kent staff. Stewards lead at least 4 work parties a year at their site, or contribute 20 hours of service on their own if they prefer. You can also become a Support Steward and help out when you can.

If you just want to pitch in for a few hours, visit www.greenkent.org and look for a work party coming up!

Here’s what some of the current Stewards are saying:

“I grew up in Kent, traveled Europe for a few years while serving in the Army, then came back to Kent. I joined the Green Kent Partnership because I have always had a passion for environmental issues, and I recognized the need to improve my own community. I chose to become a steward of Springwood Park because I believe it has a lot of potential. It’s a large park that needs a lot of love. With help from volunteers and the parks department, I know we can make it a great park.” – Springwood Park Steward Zandria Michaud

“I really love this program. It offers accountants like me the chance to get outside and do volunteer work. I can contribute to the community when I have time available. I have also been able to offer local teenagers service hours for school by having them help with the work. My grandson does miss the blackberries, but we can go explore the woods now instead!” – Pheasants Hollow Steward Nancy Terry

“I love the outdoors and I love doing things that benefit others. I spend a lot of time in the Kent Parks with my son JJ, so I thought this would be the perfect way to give back! I chose North Lake Meridian because it is right outside of the Meridian Junior High school and is next to the trail that kids walk through to get to school. I attended Meridian Junior High and walked that trail every day. There truly is something refreshing, relaxing, and rewarding about removing the naughty part of Mother Nature, and replacing it with the nice!  Playing in the mud is just a bonus.” – Lake Meridian Park Steward Debbie Larson

“My latest volunteer adventure is as a Steward for Lake Fenwick Park in Kent. This gives me the opportunity to work with fellow volunteers while getting my hands dirty . . . I don’t know ‘if no one is in the forest and a tree falls if it makes a sound’; however, I do know how much work a small group of volunteers can accomplish in a few hours on a Saturday.” – Lake Fenwick Park Steward Gina Tallarigo

Green Everett Partnership -first event of 2013!

MD2010-09-18-8225 Silver Lake Park Volunteers

Join Howarth Park Forest Stewards, Everett Parks, Forterra, and neighbors for the first Green Everett Partnership work party of 2013.  Come learn about the Green Everett Partnership and the many benefits that the Howarth Park forests provide us all.  We will stay warm and burn off some of those holiday cookies by digging out invasive blackberry and ivy as we work together to restore Howarth Park’s beautiful forest.

More info:  Green Everett Partnership

Backyard Collective brings some sunshine to Seattle

Deanna at Conservation Alliance helped organized a crew of fantastic volunteers to work with the Green Seattle Partnership out at Westcrest Park a few weeks ago. A fun work party, and a great organization – “The Conservation Alliance is a group of outdoor industry companies that disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations. We direct our funding to community-based campaigns to protect threatened wild habitat, preferably where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. The Alliance was founded in 1989 by industry leaders REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Kelty, who shared the goal of increasing outdoor industry support for conservation efforts. We now have more than 175 member companies, and plan to disburse $1,000,000 in 2011.”

On the Conservation Alliance blog, Deanna writes:

The sun was shining and volunteers were all smiles on Friday July 22nd at The Conservation Alliance Backyard Collective in Seattle’s Westcrest Park. More than 60 volunteers came out for the day from Outdoor Research, Nikwax, Brooks, Filson, Cascade Designs, Stanley, a brand of PMI, Clif Bar, Patagonia, and Runner Girl Races.

This great group of volunteers removed over 12,000 square feet of invasive ivy plant and created 23 tree survival rings.

Read the full post here . . .

Thank you volunteers!!

Volunteer Spotlight: PJ tree planting is a hit!

This great mini-movie was taken by a volunteer last weekend at the Pearl Jam planting at Discovery Park. They braved sub-freezing weather with great attitudes and were rewarded with a really fun event. Apparently, rock stars are even “more awesome” in real life! This testimonial (starts at 4:34) is guaranteed to make you feel good about restoration.

Get in on the fun! Volunteer at an upcoming work party in Seattle, Tacoma, Kirkland, Redmond, or Kent.

Unlimited urban woods (sort of) and directed attention fatigue

photo by Pieter Kers, on local ecologist courtesy of Hedwig Heinsman of DUS

Leave it to architects in Amsterdam to come up with this quirky, creative idea to help alleviate directed attention fatigue. DUS Architects Amsterdam describes their single tree inside four mirrored walls as a “never-ending forest in the middle of town.” As explained in the local ecologist post from a little while ago where I found this, the pavilion was displayed in front of the New Amsterdam Public Library this summer. From the outside, it looks like a square, white box. From this inside, it looks like this picture to the left.

Local ecologist admits that this installation does not fulfill vital ecosystem functions that make an urban forest so valuable. But it does make us think about directed attention fatigue. University of Michigan professors Rachel and Stephen Kaplan were among the first academics to study the psychological effects of nature, and they are still working to produce more research demonstrating natural settings’ “profound, positive effect on both mental and physical health.” The Kaplans have shown that working in nature, gardening, taking a walk in the woods, or even enjoying a view of trees from a window can reduce stress and improve people’s health, from cancer patients and caregivers to regular city-dwellers. A natural place “doesn’t have to be big or pristine” to have a positive effect, claims Rachel Kaplan. “Most of all, it has to be nearby.”

How much does a park or natural area near you affect your health and well-being? Small pocket parks and large expanses of greenbelts affect us in ways we might not always know or appreciate. I know that, as a city-dweller myself, my quality of life is much improved by having them around. If you give back by volunteering at an upcoming work party in Seattle, Tacoma, Redmond, Kirkland, or Kent, you ensure that these areas remain healthy enough to keep us healthy for years to come. And then get the return on your investment: take a walk or bike ride through them, meet a friend there, play, read a book, or otherwise take time to give your directed attention a rest.

Is it greenspace?

Last week an article in Grist posed the question, “Why do you love the place you live? We want to know.” Journalist Sarah Goodyear quoted a recent Gallup survey called “Soul of the Community” that was all about the attachment we feel to the places we live, and what drives that attachment. Then she invited readers to respond in their own words about why they love the place they call home.

The Gallup survey results were very interesting, and naturally, got me thinking about where Green Cities fit into all this. In every one of the 26 communities surveyed, social offerings (“the availability of arts and cultural opportunities, availability of social community events, the community’s nightlife, whether the community is a good place to meet people, and whether people in the community care about each other”) were the most important factor in attachment. What about volunteer events? Time and again, we hear that what motivates people to volunteer is the social aspect, just as much as the environmental. Work parties are great places to meet new people, or spend time with those you know already. And a whole neighborhood of people coming together to make their local park or natural area healthier says a lot about how much we care about each other.

The second most important was openness (“This is regarding whether residents view their communities as good places for different groups, including older people, families with children, young adults without children, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, gays and lesbians, and young, talented college graduates looking for work”). I was happy to read this one too. What’s great about environmental restoration is that almost anyone can take part. Young or old, all experience levels, backgrounds, lifestyles, everyone is welcome to help keep our urban environment thriving, again for the benefit of everyone.

The third most important driver of attachment was a no-brainer: a community’s aesthetics (“its overall physical beauty and the availability of parks, playgrounds, and trails”). We’ve been reading a lot, especially lately, about how important it is to have access to well-maintained, healthy natural open space, both for mental and physical well-being.

Reading all this, it’s no wonder that volunteers donate hundreds of thousands of hours a year towards restoration work parties in parks and natural areas through the Green Cities Network. It’s one of the reasons we love living where we do.

Goodyear posts that the response to her article was “tremendous” and published an edited selection in a follow-up article today. Many of the responses cite open space, natural features, and parks specifically. The Gallup survey results also found that people who feel strongly about the place they live are more likely to “actively participate in its success.” Meaning that it’s a positive feedback loop: if you feel good about where you live, you’ll do more to make it better, and then feel even better about it.

Get into that positive feedback! Participate in the success of your city by volunteering to keep the parks and natural areas that make it great to stay healthy. If you live or work in Seattle, Tacoma, Redmond, Kirkland, or Kent, there are opportunities for you to get involved.

Green Seattle Day 2010 A Success!!!!

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!