Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

Painting, Progress and Puppies

This is the final update from Timberland Earthkeeper Lynn Woodrum, who spent last week lending her time and energy to rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.  Our thanks to Lynn, and fellow Earthkeeper MacKenzie Mosca, for sharing their experience with us .

Friday, November 13

The day started well with our team getting a lot of our house project completed. With the inside mostly finished, it was time to give the outside a new coat of sea green paint. The house really came a long way from Monday, with only one room we didn’t finish – the handicap-accessible bathroom which professionals need to do.

All week a little puppy had visited us at the house site, she was so cute. The owner came over on Friday and offered to give the puppy to an electrician (Steve) who worked with all of us and the Rebuilding Together group. Needless to say it was a tearful moment… he named his new puppy Holly, as the house is located on Hollygrove St.

About 12:30 we wrapped up the day and said our goodbyes to the Rebuilding Together employees and to Ms. Alice (the new home owner) and her family. Another tearful moment.  Then we went back to the garden project and what a sight it was!  The last time I was there was on Monday, and it looked so different. A walkway had been added, more fruit trees, a trench dug, and the privacy fence started. It was just beautiful!

I feel like I walked away with many new lifelong friends and helped to rebuild a community. I think that In Good Company gave back hope to many families by just being there; showing people that there are others out there willing to get dirty, and help others. My week in New Orleans showed me how much I have, and how important family is to me. If there is ever a chance to help again, I hope that more people will get involved and experience this opportunity!

- Lynn Woodrum

Bayou Rebirth

Let me start by saying I am very afraid of water.

Today, we joined a wetlands restoration organization — Bayou Rebirth — and were able to go canoeing in a swamp to view the different types of marsh, trees, and wildlife (birds). So, MacKenzie and I pulled on our boots and were a canoe team. She had done it before … for myself, refer back to the first sentence of this blog post. Thank goodness for MacKenzie for getting me out of there alive!

The canoe ride lasted about 2 hours, and then we all loaded up to go plant some marsh and other brush for the water to build up and restore some of the habitats. We actually saw an alligator today, but it was far away — don’t worry! We also went to the spillway to view the levee, large ships, and barges. It was another wonderful day … but just so everyone knows I will probably not do the canoeing thing again.

- Lynn Woodrum

Congratulations to Timberland Earthkeeper Lynn for making it safely back to dry land … and our thanks to her for continuing to share updates from her week-long service sabbatical in New Orleans .

Moving Pictures

Thanks to Timberland Earthkeepers Lynn and MacKenzie for the following update from their week-long service sabbatical in New Orleans :

Today was a fantastic day! The day started @ 7 am with breakfast, then everyone loaded into 5 vans and off for a day of working. We have 2 projects for the week, The garden project, and the house project. I went to the garden project today, where we shoveled and sifted dirt to be used for fruit trees and vegetables and removed weeds and debris to make way for a privacy fence still to be built.

Everyone’s help is needed at the house project, trying to get it ready for the family to move into it this week. The house needs a lot of TLC – painting, caulking, adding new trim, and the list goes on! I went over and helped with the caulking on the outside of the house, and hopefully if the rain goes away we’ll be able to do some outside painting tomorrow.

My new found friends make each project so much fun!

This is very short and sweet, as supper is ready – pasta night – and I can’t wait to lay down!

- Lynn Woodrum

Notes From New Orleans

We’re pleased to offer these first updates from Timberland’s own Lynn Woodrum, one of two employees spending the week in New Orleans to help rebuild a community in need:

Saturday, November 7

Lots of thoughts went through my head as I sat in airports today. What will the other people be like?  Will we all get along? What is New Orleans going to be like?

Well, I am able to answer the first question for now. Everyone has arrived and all are great! Every person is willing to jump in and help with anything, from cooking to decorating.

We had a wonderful dinner tonight to socialize with everyone.  It consisted of chicken tortillas, rice, and some great caramel ice cream. We all had a great time getting to know one another. Cleanup was fast as everyone was willing to pitch in and help.  Now to try to get some sleep (been up since 2 am) and see what tomorrow brings!

Sunday, November 8

Today was a very adventurous day! It started out with a fabulous breakfast, chore sign ups, a tour, and a wonderful dinner!

We toured the Hollygrove Market with our guide, Pam. The market was created last year by the In Good Company team and has really grown! It grows fruits and vegetables for the local community for $25 a week for 1 box — every family has a chance to receive some of the great food.

As we proceeded on the tour, it was just devastating to still see so many homes that were still boarded up, with dates painted on their front doors showing when someone checked the house for residents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina . The hurricane hit on August 28, 2005 — and some of the dates we saw on houses were as far out at September 18! We also learned that many building contractors came in following Hurricane Katrina and attempted to refurbish homes, but didn’t always do the grandest job – and that when homeowners then tried to contact the contractors, they had packed up and left without finishing needed requirements. Apparently a large amount of people were overtaken by these contractors, and are now trying to do the best they can with what they have. Our tour was 4 hours long and it really makes you very thankful for what you have.

We arrived at Cafe Reconcile at 6:00 to have dinner, and the food was so great! This cafe is all about giving back to the community and teaching local students the etiquette of the restaurant atmosphere. All the fruits and vegetables served there are grown within the local community, and all the leftovers (if any) are composted back into the garden. Everyone is very big on the whole recycling process and it is so great!

It has been another great day of fellowship, food, and fun. Tomorrow I will be going to a garden to help build a fence around it, weather permitting …

Gearing Up for Good Company

A year ago, we chronicled the journey of Timberland’s community engagement coordinator Brianne Wood as she joined 25 fellow volunteers from other companies for a week of Earthkeeping and community building in New Orleans .   This year, we’re proud to be packing up two of our Timberland colleagues for the second annual In Good Company experience:

  • Lynn Woodrum works in the human resources department at Timberland’s Danville, Kentucky distribution center.  She is bravely leaving four children, ages 17 to 17 months, in the capable hands of her husband as she sets off for a week of restoration and revitalization in New Orleans.  Lynn’s biggest concerns heading into the service week: “Have I taken care of my responsibilities for next week at home, at work?  Am I taking enough supplies for my trip?  Have I remembered to buy all the needed necessities for home?”  A mom’s work is never done …
  • MacKenzie Mosca is an associate at Timberland’s factory outlet store in Long Island, New York.  An outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for hiking, the beach and her three dogs, MacKenzie is looking forward to personally contributing to post-Katrina rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.  In her own words, “People working together … are capable of limitless possibilities.”

Please stay tuned, as we’ll be featuring regular updates from Lynn and MacKenzie throughout their weeklong service experience here on the Earthkeeper blog … interested Earthkeepers can also follow MacKenzie on Twitter (Timberland_MacK).  We wish them both safe travels, and applaud their willingness to take time out from their personal and professional lives to devote hours and effort to creating a positive impact for a community in need.

And On the Last Day, We Created:

A community.

Saturday, November 8

The last day together has come.  Eight days ago it seemed as though the week would last an eternity.  Today being our final day together, we sit and wish it could be longer.

Tonight I felt completed in our efforts from the week.  The families from Hollygrove cooked up a buffet of local cuisine and soul food. We sat in the NOFFN building, surrounded by smiling, proud and loving people from the neighborhood.  Alongside the sounds of laughter, local musicians playing trombones and singing, there we were.

It was so nice to come together for good food, good music and good people.  We spent a final evening with the familiar faces from the week and faces we had never seen but still had a familiar feel.

We ended the evening with the musician announcing that he would sing one final song … one he felt he might never feel honored and inspired enough to sing again, but after all that has happened of late, he felt proud enough to sing the words.  He began singing the Star Spangled Banner and the entire room got on its feet and began singing along.  There was such passion and love in that room.

This week brought me personal challenges and pushed me outside my comfort zone in many ways, but the final product from all that I saw and experienced FAR out weighed any possible downsides. 

This week we helped to create a community in New Orleans; most importantly we created a community within ourselves.  This “In Good Company” group will leave as partners in the business sense and friends in the personal sense.

I feel honored to have had this experience.  As I sign off from New Orleans, my wish to this resilient city is hope and strength to continue fighting the battle.  I hope you have enjoyed the ride with me and feel inspired to continue the ripple forward.

We thank Brianne Wood for sharing her experience in New Orleans with all of us here at Earthkeepers.  To learn more about the In Good Company initiative, please visit their blog.

Community Greening, As It Is Meant To Be

Below, Timberland’s Brianne Wood continues to share her experiences with us from a week of community building and restoration in New Orleans as part of the In Good Company initiative:

Friday, November 7

Today I worked with the New Orleans Food and Farm Network (NOFFN).  This organization represents every element of community greening possible.

The area of Hollygrove has a 40% poverty rating.  Almost half of the residents are considered below low income and are officially in the poverty bracket.  It has been a longstanding and widely-known fact that healthy, fresh food is largely unavailable to the people in this neighborhood.

When Katrina hit, decimating most of this area, the neighborhood stood up and said they wanted to rebuild, but not just rebuild: rebuild green, rebuild healthy and rebuild strong.  They wanted to implement tools and resources to help their community be a better place. 

What started as the desire to help residents build backyard gardens turned into a grand vision of having a local food market and education center.  They are incorporating wonderful things such a rain-catch system to water their plants, green roof tops, an outdoor classroom and much more.

It was redeeming to see a community pulling together to make a stand and make a motion for positive change.

The Great Bayou Debate

The latest blog entry from Brianne Wood during her weeklong community rebuilding experience in New Orleans:

Wednesday, November 5

Today we partnered with Bayou Rebirth to plant and restore natural grasses and marsh plants.  We sat through a great presentation from Fish and Wildlife to discuss the impact and erosion occurring in the Delta and waterways of New Orleans. There are many issues surrounding why New Orleans got hit as hard as it did by Hurricane Katrina, followed by Hurricane Gustav.

Without going into the entire presentation, the gist was that there are a multitude of problems and very few solutions.  We need to find a solution to help the Mississippi River divert its water flow and silt deposits.  This will restore natural “speed bumps” to slow down hurricanes off the coast, contribute to the health and well being of the bayou, and most importantly eliminate unnatural land mass build up in the canals, which makes it impossible for the oil and trade industries to import and export easily.  New Orleans constantly has to dredge the bottom of the canals in order to keep it deep enough for transport, creating a sunken basin effect and putting New Orleans further below sea level. 

The question was raised as to why the city doesn’t allow the Mississippi River to run as it intends and wants to, or create overflow pathways which would eliminate the over distribution of silt and materials.  The answer was “people are in way.”  The best solution for the environment causes the most challenging solution for the people in and around the city.

Hmmm … I sat feeling torn.  Which side is right, which side do I support?

On one hand I spent the past two days helping a family rebuild the house and home they lost.   I felt pride and honor in knowing the ripple we were creating for the neighborhood.

Then I learn that unless affirmative actions are taken to restore the coast and create a natural shelf off the coast of New Orleans, hurricanes will have nothing stopping or slowing their path; the levees will more than likely be broken again and these same people will once again be in need.

I got my answer when we revisited Miss Linda Ebarb.  When I told her I worked for Timberland she told me her husband always wanted a pair of our boots but they were expensive and they couldn’t justify spending the money.  I told her to give me their shoe sizes and I would see what I could do, but couldn’t make any promises.  She broke down into tears and hugged me.  She said we had already given her so much, she couldn’t ask for anything else.  I knew in my heart then that supporting the Ebarbs and people like them is really what needs to happen, at least for the short term.  We need to give people back not just their houses but their homes and maybe we make things a little bit better, a little bit greener and give people a little more hope for the future.

What needs to happen is for pressure to be put on oil companies and other shipping companies to be part of the solution and not just part of the problem. That could have the potential to be our happy medium.  It wouldn’t be best solution for either party, but it sure would be a good place to start.

The great bayou debate will continue but for today, I did my part … I planted much-needed marsh grasses, got stuck in the mud and had a lot of laughs in the process.  This is my new favorite team building exercise; there’s something to be said for helping to pull your coworkers (sporting waist-high waders) out of a pile of stinky sloppy mud!

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

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.