Archive for September, 2009

Earthkeeping in Egypt

Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from sun-up until sundown … a time to ask for guidance and forgiveness, and to practice self-restraint and good deeds.

Timberland’s team in Egypt took the “good deeds” piece to heart this year, hosting their annual Serv-a-palooza community service day in the middle of Ramadan for the benefit of a local school in need.  35 volunteers spent the day installing a water tank and pump (the school previously had no water access), cleaning, painting and landscaping the school grounds, and distributing packets of school supplies and flu prevention information to more than 600 students.

If our volunteers were experiencing any lack of energy due to the fast, it wasn’t evident in the effort and enthusiasm they brought to their service day:

Timberland Egypt reminds us that critical needs exist every day of the year, all around the globe; our thanks to them for inspiring the rest of us to take on more good deeds.

Who Wants to Be a Green Guru?

Now through October 16th, we’re holding a gaming tournament on our Earthkeepers Hero: Mission Possible Facebook trivia game to determine who is the Ultimate Green Trivia Guru.

The person that earns the most points and is able to unseat our reigning Earthkeeper Hero Champion, Greena Garbo, will be awarded:

  • A CASH PRIZE! of $1000 for themselves 
  • $500 for the environmental non-profit of their choice
  • Bragging rights as the Ultimate Green Trivia Guru (Priceless or tasteless?  You decide.)

Enter and start playing today to be the top player in our Hall of Fame, win a fabulous prize, and earn the opportunity to help a great cause.

More details about the contest, including important instructions on how to download and start playing the game, can be found at http://bit.ly/EKGAME_CONTEST.

May the best Earthkeeper win!

More Trees in China

As part of yesterday’s announcement about China’s commitment to decreasing its carbon emissions, Chinese president Hu Jintao pledged that his country would plant forests across an area the size of Norway .  Whether you’re among the critics who don’t believe China’s commitment was specific enough, or among supporters who consider it a positive first step, you’ve got to admit – that’s a lot of trees.

As a company with a penchant for tree-planting (although we have yet to take on any projects of Norway proportions), we’re encouraged to see reforestation at the top of China’s environmental task list.  Rapid population growth and over-use of land has contributed to the issue of desertification all over the world — including in China, where traveling dust storms create widespread air quality problems and natural resources have grown scarce for local residents.

Over the last 6 years, Timberland employees in Asia have partnered with GreenNet, a Japan-based NGO, to plant trees in Inner Mongolia’s Horqin Desert – an area that originated as grassland and has over the course of time become a desert the size of Switzerland .  Our partnership with GreenNet is expected to yield 980,000 trees planted by the end of 2009 … well on track to meet our goal of planting one million trees in the Horqin by 2010 .  (You can read more about our tree planting efforts in Earthkeepers’ “Horqin Chronicles” blog series.)

Do we think planting a million trees in Inner Mongolia is going to solve Asia’s environmental issues?  No more than planting 500 in Barcelona … or 10 in the Dominican Republic … or one in your own backyard.  But we believe any action is better than inaction … and that cumulative effort, whether on the scale of a city block or a forest the size of Norway, contributes in a meaningful way to creating climate solutions.

Store-Front Sustainability

Earthkeeper Hero Cate Trotter has had a busy month of hosting trend tours , which showcase all that’s hip and green in London. The theme of one of her more popular trend tours these days is “Green Retail” … and as it so happens, Timberland’s Regent Street store is one of her featured tour stops!  (We couldn’t be prouder.)

Cate’s retail trend tours are designed to inspire creative teams and entrepreneurs to rethink their own retail spaces with an eye toward sustainability.  What makes our Regent Street store sustainable enough to make Cate’s cut?

  • Physical elements such as reclaimed timber and repurposed seating (old cinema seats work just as well for weary shoe shoppers).
  • Open space, flexible displays and walls with interchangeable panels – key to refreshing the store’s interior design more easily and efficiently, without starting from scratch (and without creating more material waste).
  • “Storytelling” elements which speak (quietly, not in-your-face) to our corporate commitment to the environment.

We’re thrilled to be featured in Cate’s trend tours … and would love to hear from you which other retailers you think are showcasing sustainability in an effective way.

To keep up on Cate’s latest trendspotting, follow her story anytime on Changents.com .

One Man’s Trash …

Not to be outdone by their mountain-scaling colleagues, Timberland’s information technology team in the UK has their own Earthkeeping accomplishment to share:

Looking after IT for Timberland’s European region can be very taxing on the mind, body and soul!  Although hearing “I’ve forgotten my password,” or, “Whoops!  There goes my Starbucks into the keyboard again,” does amuse us, it doesn’t always stimulate the job satisfaction we all crave.

We recently donated 30+ older computers (too old for the high-tech Timberland world but certainly still usable to most) to a charity called Computers 4 Africa. I’ve worked with the organization in the past and appreciate that they seem like a low-key company doing what they say on the label with no frills or whistles. What really made my day was when they came to collect the computers — they were so elated by such a large donation – they even suggested the classroom that gets our hand-me-down technology would be named after us! (The “Timberland Room” has a nice ring to it, yes?)

This is not the first time our team has done something like this – we’ve generated money for local charities through old PC sales and previously provided IT skills to local charitable organizations that needed the help – but this is the first time I realised how important this is to others, and what a difference it can make.  I’m pushing my folks to do the same across Europe for this year and for every year moving on.

 

- Danny Chinery
Regional IT Manager, Timberland Europe

 

 

Climbing for a Cause

It’s been a little quiet at Timberland’s European headquarters this week, and with good reason. 10 of our colleagues there just completed the 3 Peaks Challenge: climbing (and traveling between) the tallest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales … in a 24 hour period.

The challenge included conquering Ben Nevis , Scafell Pike and Snowdon … equivalent to climbing about 10,000 feet — or just over half of Mount Kilimanjaro .

Cornices on Ben Nevis by richie@merseyventure.

The Ben

Did we mention the 24-hour time limit?

Despite a couple of injuries, the agony of a 5-hour drive through traffic in a crowded mini-van and sheer exhaustion, Team Timberland did it – beating the 24-hour time limit by a full hour and 15 minutes.  (No doubt their high-quality Timberland gear made them faster and stronger.)

Scafell & Scafell Pike from Wastwater by richie@merseyventure.

Scafell Pike

Nothing feels quite as good as meeting and beating a physical challenge (particularly in breathtaking surroundings such as these) … but contributing to a cause greater than your own accomplishment is a near second.   The Timberland team participated in this year’s 3 Peaks Challenge on behalf of TRAID – one of Timberland’s non-profit partners, and an organization near and dear to many of us.  TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) operates over 900 textile recycling banks across the UK where consumers can donate clothing (less in the landfill!), which is then sold back to the public through one of TRAID’s shops or repurposed in designer original “TRAIDremade ” pieces.  TRAID’s proceeds support their UK work and also fund overseas development projects .

Our 3 Peaks Challenge team has a lot to be proud of: scaling three mountains in one day and raising nearly 6,000 pounds for the important work TRAID is doing to reduce waste and support developing communities.  No wonder they’re so tired.

Thanks to our UK team for sharing their story of extreme Earthkeeping with us.  To learn more about TRAID, including how you can contribute to their effort, please visit their website.

Just Another Manic Monday

Oh, to be a Timberland Earthkeeper.  Our morning schedule today looked something like this:

1. Host Victory Garden “Open House” to share insight and expertise with local area businesses wanting to start their own corporate lawn gardens.

2.  Harvest and weigh (using super-sophisticated methods) whatever looks ripe for the picking (today’s bounty included herbs, flowers, zucchini, cabbage, green peppers and one odd-looking summer squash).

3.  Haul the fresh produce into our lobby where eager employees gladly exchange donations to the NH Food Bank for a bagful of the best veggies around.

Not a bad way to start the work week.  Our thanks to Ann Caron and her Victory Garden committee for allowing us to videotape them Earthkeeping in action.

(And, just to show you that our volunteer gardeners aren’t the only ones working hard today, the end of the video features some of the crew and equipment working to install our new energy-efficient white roof!)

Those of you who couldn’t make the trip to NH for today’s open house, never fear — we’re always happy to talk to anyone interested in our Victory Garden (or help you figure out how to start your own).  Just let us know the best way to reach you and we’ll be in touch.

Remembering

Eight years ago today, this was a different world.  Instead of a grey day in New Hampshire, it was a bright blue morning in New York City.  We were in mid-town, a group of Timberland execs, some of our customers, and a few business partners, finishing up a sales meeting. All about selling boots.  To conclude the conference, we had scheduled a day of community service.  Yeah, I know, golf is the usual corporate thing–but a) I suck at golf, b) golf courses are environmentally unfriendly, and c) we actually believe that part of running a for-profit business is being actively invested in the communities you work and live in.  So eight years ago today we were in New York, heading off to service.

Early this morning I was re-reading the note that I wrote at the end of that day.  After a day in which our world changed forever, the same group of Timberland folks were on a bus we bought (it’s a long story, but it was hard to get out of New York City that night), flying along some parkway in Connecticut, silent and sad.  Below is part of what I wrote to our global community as a small group of us rumbled home toward our families:

As we stood on 5th Avenue this morning, and saw the flames and smoke from the World Trade Center, as we waited to board buses to take us from the safety and security and comfort of midtown Manhattan to the one of the bleakest neighborhoods in urban America—as we stood there, our hearts melted.  And our fears multiplied.  And our hearts raced.

But we went, from midtown to the Bronx.  And by the time the ride was over, the news was clearer, and the emerging clarity did just the opposite of what it usually does—instead of feeling more confident as we knew more, we felt less comfort, more nausea.

When we got off the buses, I told everyone what we knew, and asked the 125 men and women assembled what was in their hearts.  Should we stay, and do the planned day of service at the Clara Barton School in the Bronx, or should we try to find a way out of New York, away from the horror and the fear?  And in small quiet groups of people, the decision was made, to stay, and to serve.

And so a small group of people, on a small concrete patch in the Bronx, responded to hatred with love today.  They met anger with kindness.  They exacted revenge—but the revenge of sweat in good purpose, rather than the revenge of blood spilled in rage.  While we called our families, and consoled each other, and reeled at the news, we stood together, and we served together.  We showed a group of children that there are competing models for how the adult world can work.  There is the model of destruction, and hatred, and despair, and by contrast, there is the model of creation, and community and even congregation—different people, committed to the common goal and good. (Clara Barton’s) Principal Parker told us that he would always remember today for the evil that was done, and he would never forget today for the goodness that was wrought.

Our hearts grieve with all who have lost, and our prayers, from our different traditions and faiths and personal points of view are united in gratitude to those brave men and women who struggle to protect us, and care for the hurt, and rescue the injured.   May all who are grieved be comforted.  May each and every broken body and heart and mind be mended, completely and speedily.  And may each of us find within ourselves the strength to affirm what is expected of us—to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly, with our God and with our fellows.

Eight years ago, we promised the kids at that school that we would return and serve with them, every 9.11 until every one of them had graduated from the school.  Eight years ago we promised…and today, we showed up, again.  Even though none of the kids in the school today were Clara Barton students that first 9.11; all of those students have grown up and moved on.

Funny; the kids have moved on, but we can’t.  So, we keep going back.  For the same reason we stayed that first day; each of us had his/her reason, but together we needed to stay.

In these days, riven with fear, characterized by polarity….what’s a bootmaker, or a bricklayer, or a candlestick maker to do? When we’re not sure….we get up from our desks, and we go out into the world, and we serve.  We do what we can to repair the tears and gashes in the civic space around us, and while we are serving…we shore up our own souls, strengthen ourselves for the journey of adult living in a crazy world.

As the song says…love is love, and not….fade away.

We remember.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Victory Tastes Better When Shared

“We were a busy working family, and I would find it difficult to feed my family in a healthy way, quickly.  So I decided to change our diet … with simple things.  I started adding more fruits and vegetables, trying to sit down and prepare a meal as a family a couple times a week and eating out a little bit less.  Trying to eliminate processed and sugary foods as much as possible.  And I saw some really immediate results with just those minor changes.”

Could be the sentiments of just about any Earthkeeping mother among us, right?  Struggling to balance quick-and-easy with good-for-you food choices.  In fact, it’s First Lady Michelle Obama, discussing the genesis of her victory garden – the topic of a newly-released White House video:

The First Lady’s remarks are probably familiar to every mom among us — the desire to eat healthier and teach our children first hand about good eating habits.  Unfortunately, fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t a readily-available option for some — including those families who rely on local food banks and community meal programs.

All the more reason for us to build on the new/old victory garden “trend” where we can — in backyards and corporate office parks and yes, even on the White House lawn — to provide not only for our own families, but to help feed others who share our desire and need for healthier food.

Grab a Widget, Help a Hero

So you’ve gotten to know all the 2009 Earthkeeper heroes — here’s your chance to “vote” for your favorite one and help advance their cause.

Now through November 1, our five Earthkeeper heroes will be competing against time and each other to be the first to to receive 100,000 downloads of their “widget” by fans and supporters.  The prize?  A grassroots (some might say guerilla) publicity campaign to help get them and their Earthkeeping mission on national TV. 

Here’s how to get in on the action:

  1. Go to the Get Widget page on Changents.com.
  2. Find the widget of the Earthkeeper hero you want to support (hint – they’re in the box on the right side of the page).
  3. Click JOIN and VOTE (big red box) on your selected widget.
  4. Register to win some cool rewards.
  5. Post the widget to your social networking profile or blog.

And don’t worry – if you don’t want to give up your personal information, you can still play by clicking GRAB WIDGET (bottom left of the widget box) and skip the registration piece.

One of the Earthkeeper heroes could hit it big … help us decide which one!