Archive for 2008

Footprints

An update from Brianne Wood, Timberland’s community engagement coordinator, during her week of community rebuilding in New Orleans:

Tuesday, November 4

One of the community service projects this week is working in partnership with Rebuilding Together.  As first responders back to New Orleans and residents of one of the areas hardest hit (Hollygrove) Loran and Linda Ebarb qualified for a new home rebuild.  They are such unique people and you can’t help but just love them instantly.  They are charismatic, kind and giving; the kind of people that have so little but would give it all away if they thought someone else needed it more.

I spent two days laying down bamboo flooring in their living room.  After our group had finished laying down tar paper in prep for the flooring, it was an employee from Eileen Fisher that turned around to me and said “Hey look Brianne, we literally and figuratively left our footprints here in the Ebarbs’ house.”

I love that he rippled the messaging I expressed in opening night introductions, of needing to leave a positive footprint wherever we go. Although the picture itself is not glamorous and would not mean much to a passer by, to me it holds many meanings.  We left our footprints in the Ebarbs’ house, the Ebarbs left a footprint in my heart that I hope I never forget.

I also note the date it was taken 11/4/08 – the same day we elected a new President of the United States.  This pictures is symbolic in the way that it proves we can be the change …”Yes, we can.”  I believe that, I live that and I will continue to fight for that.

You can read more about the experience and impact Brianne and her teammates are having this week on the In Good Company blog.

Notes from New Orleans

As promised, we’ll be providing updates throughout the week from Timberland’s own Brianne Wood as she builds relationships and revitalizes communities as part of In Good Company.  Here are Brianne’s initial thoughts on the experience:

Saturday, November 1

I sit in the airport with many thoughts and “what-ifs” of the week to come:
I wonder if my work will be beneficial to the communities I will be serving. 

I wonder how I will adjust to 24/7 of working, eating, sleeping, cooking, cleaning, and serving with 26 complete strangers.

I wonder if I will feel emerged and embraced in a community that has struggled with many heartaches.  Heartaches and challenges of which I have been sheltered from.

I wonder if I am the right candidate for this opportunity, or if others will find the experience life-altering and for me it will be only sub-par.

I wonder if I will be able find words appropriate to answer the haunting question of, “that’s nice … but so what?”

I wonder if the others will accept me, both personally and professionally.

Things I know:

I know in a short time, I will be in flight and there is no turning back.

I know that fearing the unknown, yet confronting it, will make me stronger, wiser and more confident. 

I guess that’s all I can go on for now.  The remaining answers will come with time.

With that, it’s time to board my flight.  Stay tuned for more.

 * * *

Monday, November 3

Yesterday I took part in touring the 9th Ward.

I have to say I was most intrigued and yet concerned about going to the 9th Ward.  You hear many stories and see photos of the devastation that occurred.  I just didn’t really know what to expect three years later.

What sticks most in my mind is seeing row after row of vacant spaces with nothing remaining but staircases leading to nowhere.  Stairs that once led to families, homes and memories.

The few that were able to rebuild are left with no neighbors or neighborhoods.  It was quiet in the Lower 9th.  An eerie sort of feeling

We met with a small handful of people and organizations from the area and it helped me feel there was a silver lining along this long black cloud.

We started today with our efforts and the organization Rebuilding Together.  One house, one neighborhood and one street block at a time.

I stood after a long today feeling humbled and thankful for all that has been afforded to me.  I am eager and excited for the remaining week ahead.

In Good Company

Over the next few days, nearly 30 employees from a handful of companies (including Timberland) will descend on New Orleans for a weeklong, hands-on community building experience.

In Good Company is a multi-company venture organized by Clif Bar & Company and an evolution of Clif Bar’s “Project 2080,” its employee community service program (the company pledges to donate at least 2,080 hours of service annually – the amount one full-time employee works in a year).  The week-long community building experience is designed to unite individuals around a common purpose and passion, providing them with an opportunity to share best practices while putting their positive energy to work for the city of New Orleans.

While in New Orleans, the team will work directly with three local organizations: Rebuilding Together, New Orleans Food and Farm Network, and Bayou Rebirth.  The week’s projects will focus primarily on Hollygrove, a neighborhood particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.  In Good Company volunteers will help to restore the community by creating backyard gardens, helping to construct an urban food and farming center and working on habitat restoration.

Timberland’s own community engagement coordinator Brianne Wood is fortunate to be among the In Good Company volunteers, and will be sharing her observations and experiences with us here on Earthkeepers.  Until then, you can follow the group’s progress on the In Good Company blog.

The Downside of Development

This recent essay on CNN.com by Elizabeth Economy highlights the parallel paths of economic development and environmental crisis in China.  Every day, 14,000 new cars are added to China’s roads and every 7 to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens to help fuel the country’s economic growth.  Although a success story in its rapid development, China also serves as a warning as the environmental costs of that development unfold.

The essay is accompanied by this slideshow of dramatic images from China’s Huai River Basin, a rural area heavily impacted by water pollution, taken by photojournalist Stephen Voss.  The essay and photos also appear in the book “What Matters” by David Elliot Cohen.

Treehugger’s Matthew McDermott blogged about the topic earlier this week, suggesting that in light of the environmental damage that sometimes results from economic development, “we need a new meaning for ‘developed,’ a new measurement of wealth.”  It’s an interesting notion: wealth is so often measured, not just in China but throughout the world, by the amount of material goods you have, the size of your home, the number of cars in your garage … the degree to which you’re able to live excessively.  At present, we don’t live in a world that values conservation as much as consumerism.

We look forward to the day when wealth is measured by the weight of your recyclables … or how small your electric bill is … or the number of miles you log on your feet or a bike instead of in a car.  Until then, our thanks to Treehugger for inspiring us to think about it.

Rock the Bike!

Last week we mentioned the fact that Timberland’s Dig It event in San Francisco would be powered, in part, by human energy via a bicycle-powered generator.  Stone Gossard was so inspired by seeing the bikes in use during the daytime service event that he then used them to power his live concert at the Grand Ballroom that night.  You can view the bikes (and Stone) in action here.

One act of innovative environmental consciousness inspiring a second similar act of consciousness – that’s Earthkeeping at its best.  Our thanks to the folks at Rock the Bike for helping us make Dig It San Francisco a powerful event, in more ways than one.

 

Bottles and Boots

If you walk by one of our store windows in the near future, you might see an image of a larger-than-life Timberland boot make entirely of recycled plastic bottles.  The actual boot lives in the lobby of our headquarters building, serving as a visual reminder of the potential for Earthkeeping through the design of our products.

There’s no shortage of information out there about the ramifications of not recycling plastics – and we’re excited about the ways in which we’re turning that recycling effort into better material choices.  We currently use recycled PET made from post-consumer plastic bottles in the linings, laces and uppers of some of our footwear, and are always looking for new ways to increase our use of this and other recycled and renewable materials in our products.

This video documents the actual construction of the giant plastic bottle boot by eco-artist Tim Gaudreau.  Please note that no plastic bottles were harmed in the making of this film – in fact, the 3,000 that were used were spared an unfortunate demise in the landfill.

Eat Fresh

Those of you in the greater Boston area, take note: Now through Sunday, October 19 select restaurants in the area are participating in Fresh From the Family Farm Week.  Click here for a list of participating restaurants, all offering menu items with fresh ingredients from area family farms and donating a portion of the proceeds to Farm Aid and Chefs Collaborative – two nonprofit organizations that support the family farming industry and healthy, sustainable food businesses.

Fresh From the Family Farm Week is a win-win: you get to enjoy healthy, local, good-for-you food … and farmers get a much-needed boost in their effort to provide high-quality, locally-grown food for our tables.

Food for thought.

Digging It in Outer Sunset

This Saturday, October 18 marks Timberland’s fourth and final Dig It event of the year, taking place in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset neighborhood.  An environmentally-underserved community, Outer Sunset suffers from a lack of trees which exacerbates the city’s water drainage issue with serious consequences; water runs over the concrete jungle of the neighborhood, picks up a variety of chemical pollutants and runs untreated into storm water drains that take the water straight to San Francisco bay. 

To reduce the runoff issues and improve the environmental quality of life in the community, local nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest will lead volunteers in planting nearly 200 trees this weekend.  Friends of the Urban Forest helps communities plant over 1,000 trees each year, while also engaging local residents in the ongoing maintenance of existing trees through its Tree Care program. 

Friends of the Urban Forest bringing green to the streets of San Francisco

Further increasing the positive environmental impact of Saturday’s Dig It event:  A bicycle-powered generator will help provide clean power to the effort, and volunteers will be shuttled around the service area in a bus fueled by 75% biodiesel.

Stone Gossard fans, this is your last chance this year to see him live in exchange for a few hours of Earthkeeping labor!  To register for Saturday’s Dig It event, click here … and stay tuned for photos, clips and results from all four Dig It events.

The Power of YES

The rigorous training program (8 hours a day, 5 days a week) teaches students the disciplines of landscape design, arboriculture, hydrology and urban forestry.  They learn proper techniques for pruning shrubs and trees, monitoring water quality and removing exotic species.  It sounds like a college-level course, but in fact it’s the Youth Environmental Steward (YES) program managed by North East Trees – a Los Angeles, CA nonprofit organization helping at-risk youth become environmental stewards.

North East Trees has several important initiatives aimed at restoring nature’s services in resource-challenged communities; to date, the organization has planted over 20,000 trees, created over 35 parks and facilitated other landscape improvements, including habitat restoration along the Los Angeles River and across Los Angeles County.  The YES program offers environmental and community support in a slightly different manner, combining education and training to help develop community work force, build individual character and ensure their restoration projects will be maintained into the future.  To date, thousands of local youth have completed the YES program, with many going on to find employment within the green industry.

Hands-on education in North East Trees’ YES program

North East Trees and many of its youth stewards will be on hand tomorrow, October 11, for Timberland’s third Dig It event taking place at the William Mead housing facility – one of Los Angeles’ largest housing public housing communities and home to some 1,400 residents.  In addition to planting 250 trees and creating a community garden, volunteers will learn how to select, plant and care for trees appropriate for their living environment. 

Click here to register for the LA Dig It event and for more information about the evening celebration at Avalon featuring musicians like Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard.  To learn more about North East Trees and their efforts to cultivate youth stewards and preserve local communities, visit their website.

Creating Community

Odonata is an ecovillage in the making, comprised of a core group of families in the Newburyport, Massachusetts area who are looking to live more simply and sustainably.  While still in the early stages of development, Odonata’s founders have concrete ideas about how to create less burden on our environmental resources in their intentional community — including using green building techniques, clustering homes to conserve land, creating common gardens and purchasing food and other necessities cooperatively, to share resources and reduce consumerism.

We recently caught up with Mark Schultz, one of Odonata’s cofounders, who shared his thoughts with us about living more simply in an age of over-abundance:

The biggest addition ecovillage projects add to the conversation about sustainability is a lens into the social elements of sustainability. The power of technology has really made us an incredibly independent nation – independent of each other – while usually the greatest gains are made in collective action. I have studied numerous alternative technologies with an eye to implementing in our village, or servicing or selling as a side-business. You know what every expert said? The #1 technology for the environment was not a technology: it was conservation. Stop using stuff!

The only way I know how to tame the inner child that wants that extra helping of everything is to be with others who believe the same thing. So ecovillage is built through technology, but it is not about technology, it is about people on the planet. While we are all understandably focused on these incredible, new techniques just within our grasp, saying “it’s not just science” is kind of revolutionary in an evolutionary sort of way.

The next Odonata Exploring Membership Meeting will take place Oct. 19th from 2 to 5 p.m. Contact voice@odonataVillage.org or visit odonatavillage.org for more information.