Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: November 11, 2017

On Saturday, November 11, we held another large restoration work party. Two GreenFriends members (Theresa and me), my new roommate (Jamie), and a Forest Steward that normally works on a different site (Susan) led work teams. My neighbor John who has attended almost every work party we’ve offered, and has worked endless hours on his own, did the amazing work he does every time. Blackberry root balls have no chance when they meet his pick ax.

After an initial orientation, twenty-nine awesome students from a University of Washington’s Introduction to Environmental Science class picked the teams they wanted to join and the work began. Our main task for the day was to get our eight designated planting areas ready for the DocuSign corporate group that is coming on November 15. That group will be planting more than 300 shrubs and ground covers. “Getting the areas ready” entailed digging out any remaining root balls and removing the burlap bags that had been laid down when the area was originally cleared. The burlap helps decrease weed growth and prevents erosion. In one area, the bags were covered by a heavy layer of branches and blackberry debris so that had to be removed before we could pick up the burlap.

Normally by now, the burlap bags would have decomposed but since there was almost no rain this summer, most of the bags were still whole. In places there were three layers of burlap, which would make it impossible to dig holes for the plants. With the burlap gone, it will be easy for the DocuSign group to plant the shrubs and ground covers. Once the plants are in the ground, they will replace the burlap and then cover it with wood chips.

While three of the teams did the work described above, the fourth carried 500 cubic feet of new burlap from the street to our restoration site and placed it in two stacks on the property. Once they finished that job, they started distributing the pots of shrubs and ground covers to the appropriate planting areas.

Normally the weather during our work parties turns out to be better than the forecast, but this day was an exception. It rained on and off throughout the work party, more on than off. Taking a 15-minute snack break in the pouring rain was not at all inviting. We decided to carry everything out of the Greenbelt and stand under the deck of my house.

It was during the break that I realized I hadn’t taken a single photo. Taking a group photo under the deck seemed like a good place to start! I think the photo at the top of this post and the one below reflect this work party well; everyone was both wet and happy.

I also took photos that showed the work we had already done that day. In the first gallery you can see what it looked like to start with an area that was covered with burlap covered by branches. (That particular photo was taken in August right after the area was cleared.) The second photo shows many of the branches that were removed on November 11th and the third is the pile of burlap that was picked up. I was astounded when I saw how neat this team’s pile was. It is going to make it so much easier to use than the chaotic stacks we usually create. I will  to do their way in the future. The fourth photo is what the land looks like now… i.e. ready for planting! (Click on any gallery to enlarge the photos.)

This is one of the piles of new burlap that students carried in from the street.

The students found some carpet and a fold out bed in one of the planting areas. Work party participants have attempted to dig these  items out in the past, but this team was able to do it!  When I tried to push/pull the bed, it didn’t move at all. I hope Seattle Parks Department will send a crew to remove them from the site. They regularly carry out trash piles for us, but these items are very heavy and are located at the top of a hill; one where there is no easy way to get the garbage down, especially without damaging newly planted trees.

After the break, some students continued distributing the plants to the areas where they will be planted. Before long most of the potted shrubs and ground covers were gone from the holding area.

Other work party participants resumed clearing the land of branches, blackberry vines and blackberry root balls.

Almost everyone spent the last 45 minutes of the work party participating in a bucket brigade, moving wood chips from the street, down the stairs and into piles on the site.

Afterwards, we celebrated all that we had accomplished, cleaned the tools, brushed the mud out of our shoes and went on our individual ways. What an incredible three-hour work party it had been.

Advertisements

Greenbelt Restoration: Planting Time is A-Coming

On October 22, our GreenFriends group planted 37 trees in our Greenbelt Restoration site (Tree Planting Day). That was a major development in this project, and another one is coming soon. On November 15, a corporate group from DocuSign will be planting more than 330 shrubs and ground covers for us. We’ve been busy preparing for that day.

Our fall plant order was submitted to the Seattle Parks Department in early May.  The plants would be delivered the end of October or early November. Prior to then we  needed to decide where to plant each of the plants. I identified eight planting sites and marked them with green and white or yellow and black tape. Then Ananya and I created a planting plan.

In June, I had taken a plant identification course. During the course, the instructor mentioned that when the plants were delivered, they would not be marked. I panicked. How would I be able to identify 360 plants when I only knew a few of them? To make matters worse, by that time we received them many would be in their winter state and might not even have leaves. I calmed myself down by reminding myself that we had been required to order everything in groups of 10 so I only had 26 different plants to identify. I didn’t know how I would do that either, but it definitely seemed more doable than 360. I also knew I could ask for help if I needed it.

As the date drew closer, I made a label for each plant, writing the name of the plant and how big it will get on each of the sticks.

It was possible that our plants wouldn’t be delivered until the second week in November. Since our planting day was scheduled for November 15, I was nervous about how I would do all that needed to be done to identify and mark the plants before that date. I was ecstatic when I looked out my window late in October and saw a Seattle Parks Department truck in front of my house. The plants had arrived!

As I had been forewarned, the plants were unmarked. To further complicate things, they were carried into the Greenbelt by hand and/or in a wheelbarrow. Some remained in their groupings but many were placed on the ground randomly. When the delivery crew left, I started to sort them. I discovered that I was able to identify quite a few of the plants. When I knew what the plant was, I placed the appropriate stick in the pot.

I doubted some of my identifications. Jayanand, a friend who lives on the Olympic Peninsula, came to mind.  I knew Jayanand had worked for 18 years as a botanist and ecologist for the National Park Service. I sent photos of the plants I was concerned about to him. He was able to correct some of my mistakes as well as identify some that I hadn’t been able to figure out. With his help, it wasn’t long before all of the plants were labeled.

Today (November 11)  we had a big work party to finish preparing the land for the November 15 planting. It was a wonderful work party, one that I will tell you about in my next post!

Green Seattle Day: November 4, 2017

On Green Seattle Day, Green Seattle Partnership sponsors three hour work parties in parklands all over Seattle.  This year Sarva and I agreed to help lead a team at Mountain View, a park that is a few miles south of our Greenbelt restoration site. Susan Zeman, a forest steward who often helps at our work parties, coordinated the Mountain View work party as well as one at View Point park which is located across the street from Mountain View. Susan had gathered enough forest stewards that Sarva and I were able to plant trees as well as being leads. Visala, Haley and Bob, who like Sarva and me are part of Amma’s GreenFriends group, also participated in this event.

This experience was particularly meaningful to me because ten years ago this park was completely covered with blackberries and ivy. Today it is a beautiful, healthy forest. It was inspiring for me to witness a living example what reforestation work can do. Someday our Greenbelt restoration site will look like this one.

Below are several photos from the Mountain View work party.

Here are some photos I found on the Green Seattle Partnership Facebook page. They are from other Green Seattle Day work parties.

On the same Facebook page, I found a synopsis of the work that was done that day. What a testament it is to what can be accomplished when we come together in support of Mother Nature.

A few days later, I returned to Mountain View park. I loved walking through the leaves and gazing at all of the trees we had planted. I felt renewed and excited to continue the restoration work at our Cheasty Greenbelt site.

A Surprise Gift

On Friday, I spent time working in our Greenbelt restoration site. As I turned to go back home, I heard a loud sound. It took a moment for me to figure out what it was. When I looked ahead of me, I saw a woodpecker pecking at a dead tree. It was unlike any woodpecker I’ve ever seen. One of the remarkable things about it was that it looked huge.

I used the burst setting on my phone camera and was able to capture a shot of it in the action of pecking.

I wish I had thought to take a video so you could hear the loud sound it made when it was pecking.

Later, I learned that it was a Pileated woodpecker. which is similar in size to a crow. One of their most notable features is their bright red crest. The males have a red streak on their cheek, so the one I saw must have been a female.

These birds are often found around dead trees, foraging for carpenter ants. They are known for the triangle shape holes they create in trees, holes that become habitat to “swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens.”

Pileated woodpeckers  apparently have bright white underwings. I hope that someday I have the opportunity to see one in flight!

 

Reference:

Pileated Woodpecker

 

Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: Tree Planting Day!

For many years, Amma has been encouraging us to plant trees as a way of healing the Earth. This year, devotees in the Pacific Northwest decided to honor Amma’s 64th birthday by planting trees. We asked everyone to let us know how many trees they would plant and to complete the planting by November 5th. We were hoping at least 64 trees would be pledged. At the time I am writing this post, the pledge count is up to 211!

Seattle Parks Department gave us 37 trees to plant in our Greenbelt site. That work party was held last Sunday, October 22nd. Thirty-two GreenFriends members participated. Many of them had never seen the site before and others hadn’t been there for a long time. I enjoyed seeing and hearing their reactions to the work we’ve done over the last year.

The work party began with an orientation to the site…

and then Pujarini Meera conducted a series of rituals asking Mother Earth for permission to plant the trees and to nurture and protect them after they are planted. I thought it was a beautiful ceremony. (Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

After the rituals were over, Ananya and I gave planting instructions…

and then came the fun of planting the trees.

Amma’s birthday project will be over on November 5, but our work in the restoring this Greenbelt site will, of course, continue. We will finish preparing nine planting areas at a work party on November 11 and then will plant 360 shrubs in those areas on November 15!

Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: October 1, 2017

On October 1, we held our first forest restoration work party since the end of July. Participants included five members of our GreenFriends group, twelve students from the Introduction to Environmental Science class at the University of Washington, a neighbor, a high school student, a Green Seattle Partnership Forest Steward and two other Seattle residents.

In less than three hours, we …

removed blackberry, bindweed and ivy vines and dug out blackberry root balls from 2050 sq ft of property that had previously been cleared…

cleared 750 sq ft of land for the first time… Continue reading “Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: October 1, 2017”

Greenbelt Restoration Work Parties: July 16 and 23

I had scheduled four work parties for the month of July. I reported on the July 2nd and 9th events in earlier posts. When I broke my wrist on July 13th, it was obvious that I could not lead the last two, but other Green Seattle Partnership Forest Stewards stepped into that role. Ananya, a GreenFriends member and my fellow Forest Steward on this restoration project, led the first one. Ananya was not available on the 23rd so Susan, a Forest Steward who has been doing this work for more than a decade, led that one.

Even though I was not able to do the physical work, I was happy to discover that I could still contribute. I completed the pre-and-post work party administrative work, gave the initial orientation to the participants at the beginning of the events and helped with the snack breaks. As a result, I continued to feel like a part of the team.

July 16th

Five GreenFriends members, two students, and a neighbor participated in the work party on the 16th of July. They focused on picking up trash and dismantling the piles of debris that had been raked up during previous work parties. The debris was placed on burlap bags that had been spread earlier in July. They moved any blackberry root balls they found in the piles to the rack zone to dry. They also spread burlap bags over land that had been cleared in the past.

Trash

It is always interesting to see what kind of trash we find. At this work party, a student found a tube of lotion that had an expiration date of 1989. That student was born in 1997!

Sarva found this treasure:

Moving rootballs to the rack zone

Spreading debris on burlap (click on gallery to enlarge photos)

One of the highlights of this work party was that we turned in the certificate for the prize we had won at Rainier Chamber of Commerce’s Bridge2Beach Seattle clean up event in March. The certificate was for $50 of Full Tilt ice cream. Needless to say, we enjoyed that part of the work party.

July 23

The July work parties were scheduled in a way that would support the University of Washington Environmental Science students. Their volunteer hours and reports were due on July 27th so the July 23rd work party was in high demand. Twenty-one students and two of their friends, a neighbor and three GreenFriends members participated in this work party.

The participants were divided into various groups. One group carried burlap bags from an area near the street to our Greenbelt site. Other groups looked for and removed bindweed, i.e. morning glory vines; removed ivy; or dug out blackberry root balls. As various jobs were completed, participants continued the ongoing work of laying down burlap and covering it with debris.

Attendees of this work party had the opportunity to eat the rest of the Full Tilt ice cream!

It is amazing how much we accomplished during the month of July. Every work party was a confirmation of the saying, “Many hands make light work.”  And besides that, it was fun to work together.

These photos show some of the trash that was picked up during the four July work parties. I wonder if we will ever get to the end of it.

Everything we do takes us a step closer to planting trees, shrubs and groundcovers this fall. It also moves us towards restoring this land to the beautiful forest it was meant to be; one that will provide homes to birds, butterflies, bees and many other forms of wildlife.

 

Greenbelt Restoration Work Party: July 9

It seems like I think every work party we have is the best. That was true on this day too. Eight students from the University of Washington’s Introduction to Environmental Science class, one student from Garfield High School, one neighbor and three GreenFriends members came together to do restoration work in the Greenbelt.

We cut blackberry vines, dug out blackberry root balls and bindweed (morning glory vines)

(click on any of the galleries if you want to enlarge the photos)

…. picked up trash

…. freed ferns

…. carried wood chips from a pile near 25th Avenue S and S Hanford, down the Hanford stairs, into the Greenbelt and scattered them in an area that will be used for a 250 square foot cluster of trees, shrubs and ground covers when we start to plant in the fall. Having the wood chips there will facilitate decomposition of the burlap bags that are under it and help to build the soil by creating mulch.

…. and moved debris to the rack zone to dry.

Vandya, Ellen, John and I organized the work party and led work groups. Vandya and I also took photos. At one point, we snapped pictures of each other taking photos!

During the three hour work party we cleared a lot of land. The next step will be to spread burlap bags to prevent erosion and weed growth.

One group dug out the biggest root ball we’ve found!

Needless to say, our July 9 work party was a big success.

Daily Prompt: Grit

Twelve days ago, I fell doing Greenbelt restoration work. I fell hard. The result: bruised ribs. When I first read today’s Daily Prompt: Grit, I took grit to mean the quality of doing whatever it takes to accomplish a goal, not letting any roadblock stand in the way. When I looked up the word in Wikipedia, I found this definition:

Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment, and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.

Since I fell, the amount of time I work in the Greenbelt has reduced dramatically, and what I do there has shifted. I may slowly place a few burlap bags over a cleared area; spend time laying out a design for a cluster of trees, shrubs and ground covers that will be planted the end of October; or I may wander around looking at the squirrels, birds and the occasional butterfly. Thankfully, I can still use my organizational abilities to lead work parties so the work is advancing; it just isn’t me holding the shovel.

Yesterday, I read that it takes bruised ribs 4-12 weeks to heal, and that the older you are, the longer it may take. I can tell that I am getting better. There is evidence of that daily. Healing just isn’t occurring on my preferred time table.

While I am frustrated by not being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, I know that I am being given lessons in patience and accepting what is. It doesn’t mean I have to stop advancing towards my goal, but it does mean that I can’t do the level of physical labor that I want to be doing. It is important for me to realize that developing patience and learning to accept what is are also lessons in my life’s curriculum and that those qualities are as important as grit in achieving my life goals.

I have grit, and I am learning behaviors that will support that grit.

Greenbelt Restoration Project: July 2 Work Party

Seattle Parks Department cut down a new area of blackberries on our site mid-June. Since that time, my neighbor John has put in a tremendous amount of time raking up the debris and digging up the blackberry root balls. Last weekend, 9 volunteers picked up trash, laid  burlap on the areas that had been cleared (to minimize new weed growth), and dug out root balls. It is amazing how much can be accomplished in a short period of time when we all work together.

This work party was particularly exciting because three members of our newly formed AYUDH chapter participated. Some of their parents came too.

AYUDH is an international youth movement established by Amma. Members are 15-30 years of age.The acronym stands for Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara which means “….the youth which perpetuates the wheel of dharma (righteousness).” The organization “seeks to empower the youth to integrate universal values into their daily lives. Starting with themselves, AYUDH helps establish a future of hope, peace and social engagement while maintaining an awareness of spiritual principles.”

This month we are holding work parties on July 2, 9, 16 and 23. There are already 13 people signed up for the 9th! I believe that six of them are students from the University of Washington’s Introduction to Environmental Science class.