Posts Tagged ‘9/11’

From City Streets to Desert Plains, Making our Difference

This week, we’re proud to share two blog stories of Timberland service — distinctly different in their physical locations, but undeniably similar in spirit and impact.  The first comes from the blog of streetwear clothing company Next, a Timberland retail partner.  Next joined us for our annual community service day in New York on September 9.  In the blog post, Next blogger Steve talks about the tradition, and the impact, of the service day:

Every 9/11, I have the privilege of joining the folks from Timberland in a community service event.  The past two years our “service team” focused our efforts on improving the environment of an elementary school in the Bronx. What started out as an abandoned field next to the school has slowly been transformed into a lush and productive garden. The formally cold and barren concrete school hallways have gradually become populated with colorful murals that the team has painted over the years.

View of the school-side garden and tool shed, courtesy of Rule of Next

Half a world (or so) away, travel blog Malaysia Asia highlighted Timberland’s ongoing reforestation efforts in the Horqin Desert in Inner Mongolia.  Blogger Lilian Chua experienced firsthand what a Timberland tree-planting trip to the Horqin entails – from bumpy bus rides to beautiful landscapes.  She shares:

Thanks to Timberland Malaysia, I had the great opportunity to join in their yearly Horqin Reforestation Project in Inner Mongolia. This trip was an unforgettable journey for me, from the tree planting activities to getting to know the myriad of beautiful people, the spectacular scenery which seems to be everywhere and of course the consumption of glorious local food!

Volunteers form a human chain to water newly-planted saplings in the Horqin Desert, courtesy of Malaysia Asia.

Our thanks to the folks at Next and Malaysia Asia for sharing their Timberland service experiences; we’re honored to be able to share our passion for community and environmental impact with such enthusiastic partners and volunteers!  To read these blog posts in their entirety, please visit Rule of Next and Malaysia Asia.

We Remember

10 years ago today, a group of Timberland employees were in New York City, preparing to head to the Clara Barton School in the Bronx for a day of community service.

Our CEO Jeff Swartz was among them.  The following is an excerpt from an email he sent later that day to the Timberland community:

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.

10 years later, our hearts and minds return to New York City.  In honor of the fallen and the heroes, the communities divided by tragedy and terror – and those united in spite of it – we remember.

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