Last week was a week spent with GreenPop, one of our favourite kinds of weeks. As the Greenpop team gear up for their annual trip to Zambia so there commitment to planting and greening Cape Town has been going on, business as usual.
Urban Greening at the GeenPop Nursery
We started on Saturday with some urban greening… which is our favourite kind of time spent with the Greenpop team, it was especially fun because it was a garden that we have been part of since the beginning.
The Canopy Club
The day of gardening was to celebrate the opening of The Canopy Club, a new Greenpop initiative, to bring environmental education and urban greening to the citizens of Cape Town. Three speakers were invited to share at the event…
Paddy Chapple – Why Small Things Matter: For the past twenty years they have carried out a butterfly count in their area and twenty years ago there were fifty-seven species in their count, and now they are down to only six species. Take for example the Table Mountain Copper, which lays its eggs in seeds that the local Pugnacious ants take into their nests. The butterfly seeds were protected in the nest and they hatched along with the ants. Later Argentinian ants were introduced to the Cape, these ants eat the seeds above the ground and the butterfly sides are not protected. Small seeds do matter and you can make a difference.
Dr. Pippin Anderson – You have to have Nature in Cities to Raise Eco-Warriors : We live in the age of rapid urbanisation. In 2013, 50% of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Africa is the continent with the fastest urbanisation and Lilongwe in Malawi is the city with the fastest growing urbanisation. In Cape Town we have a love hate relationship with nature. We love the mountain, we have had to reclaim the sea to fit the city, we loved the wooded slopes until we ran out of wood. We have a cycle, when the environment supports the city, until there is a crisis and then we rethink and begin again. Right now we are at a crisis, when we don’t have enough water to supply our city, it is time to write a new story. Nature feeds our souls, we need to experience it in our urban context. We need to design green into our infrastructure. Even within our own city, we all have different access to green spaces and we need to be aware of diversity within our own city. Some folk will be heading for a green space to relax and others will be seeking relief from home. It is time to accept the different experiences of the same nature and incorporate green living into our basic design.
Lauren O’ Donnel, GreenPop founder and MD: Lauren spoke about the history of GreenPop and their initial plan to plant 1000 trees. The kept trees in a garage and would make sandwiches for volunteers and off they would go. They later moved their trees to another spot, where a leaking pipe alerted them to the fact that they were keeping their trees on land that wasn’t actually available to them. They started to look for a new place to keep their trees, an empty space, beside the highway seemed like the perfect spot. And then they found their current position in the heart of Woodstock. They wanted to create an inspirational space, where learning is tangible. A biodiversity showcase, creating a corridor of green in the urban environment. Community projects and support are the vision and the dynamic to moving forward.
Adventure Talks With Cape Union Mart
And then during the week we went to Cape Union Mart, Canal Walk, for an evening of adventure talks. Yes, there is everything to love about Cape Union Mart… it is a camping, adventurers dream store and the perfect platform to talk about green adventures. And adventuring with a purpose. First we listened to Bailey talk about essential kit for traveling cross-country and joining the GreenPop team in Zambia.
And one of the hoods was very excited to win a water bottle…
And they had fun immersing themselves in the world of Google Cardboard…
And an evening of talks with our friends form GreenPop…
Sam Chevalier and What Role Might Technology Play in Social Media?
Sam will be traveling with the GreenPop team to Zambia in a couple of weeks… in order to bring the three dimensional experience to those of us who can’t be there… from my personal experience in Zambia, it is a magical and life changing experience… one not to be missed. He is all about the environment, technology and education. If you can’t take the schools to Antarctica, can you bring Antartica to the schools? It is an interesting question. He has worked around the world on environmental projects but the urgency of our need to protect the earth’s biodiversity hit him when he was working as a journalist in the Amazon river and personally experienced the biodiversity loss brought on by the logging industry. He firmly believes that we need a deep and direct experience in order raise our awareness and our need to protect our biodiversity. A child cannot experience an elephant, in the sense that they cannot hear, smell, feel or see an elephant in the classroom, for instance… Can elephants be bought into the classroom, using technology, for children to gain that deep experience.
He recently completed a project: Trekking the seven Biomes of South Africa, and plans to use his experience to bring these biomes to kids. You have to take a look at the Youtube channel for #TrekSouthAfrica just incredible.
Misha Teasdale, GreenPop Founder and Tree EO.
Misha’s life of Active Citizenship has taken him on a journey around the world, through Africa and globally, creating value and business around projects can make things happen, but the significance lies in the personal relationships that arise. As a young graduate his job took him across 36 000km of flight and he decided that he wanted to pay back the earth. He love a challenge and decided to plant 1000 trees. He had never planted a tree before and didn’t own a spade. He realised that he would need help with this project and immediately started looking for creative ways to get the challenge rolling. Together with less than a handful of friends, GreenPop was begun. Engaging with volunteers forced him to step our of his comfort zone.
Their first idea to raise funds for trees was to open a miniature park at the top of Long Street in the city centre. They had musicians, and a festive atmosphere and somehow they managed to sell seventy-nine trees. People had connected, they were off to a small start and the treevolution had begun. There next idea, to raise awareness for their project was to don Super Hero cloaks and on any form of transport they could find: skateboards, bmx’s, rollerblades… they dashed through rush hour traffic encouraging folk to help them plant trees. This got everyone’s attention… talk about uplifting a dreary rush hour!!!
Their first tree plant, they planted five trees… and then they got better at it, much better at it. They involved corporates, they had sustainability talks, green days, and plants days. They quickly realised that they were social responsibility to planting the trees that they had folk had paid for… and trees were planted. In fact, 1000 trees were planted. But GreenPop was here to stay and with their online campaign they had raised an extra 800 trees. A chance mount top meeting with Richard from Bos iced tea, created their first tree pledge and once they knew how many trees were coming in it was so much easier to organise planting.
It isn’t about the trees… the trees get planted, but it is about all the uplifting that goes on around the tree planting. It is the broken window effect, where you plant trees and create a beautiful environment people want to be. In Bogota, Columbia, they managed to reduce the crime rate significantly by creating celebrated spaces… green places that people can be proud of. South Africa has 27 000 schools and of those, 25 000 look like penitentiaries it is time to start conversations about change.
Currently GreenPop has tree planting days through out the year, but there is something quite magical their annual festivals to Platbos, where they are with the help of eager volunteers, they are reforesting the are with indigenous trees. When a chicken farmer from Zambia got hold of them to say they they had a lot of trees and needed help to plant them, the GreenPop team jumped at the challenge. Tree planting has become a much bigger challenge. They now have the Zambia Festival of Action, which brings people together from all over the world… this year there will be 170 people from 18 countries. These are all people with a heart for environmental change… it is a pot of ideas gathered in one space… yes, trees are planted, but more important relationships are forged and ideas are exchanged and built upon.
To date GreenPop has planted about 80 000 trees. What is more important than the trees are the hands that plant them, it is the sense of adventure… adventure with a purpose. This is a project that our family have loved being part of, my kids have planted trees locally, I have been to the Fabulous Family Festival Weekend. I have been lucky enough to go to the Zambia Festival of Action… and I would go again in a flash. It is honestly just the price of a plane ticket that is holding me back. Though I must say, folk travel by plane, by us, by truck, by motorbike, by bike… it’s one of those get there if you can events.
The first question folk ask… when you return form a week or a weekend with GreenPop is “How many trees did you plant?” and the answer is really… A forest might be planted, whole hillsides if trees in a morning… and that’s all good. But it is not about the trees it is all about what you learn while you are there and the global friendships that you make. And it wouldn’t be a GreenPop event without a group hug…
And the number one question, every time I blog tweet or instagram about GreenPop, is folk ask me how they can get involved. The easiest way to hear about GreenPop and all their amazing projects is to sign up to their newsletter. That way you will hear about nursery days, local tree planting days, sustainability talks and Family Festivals and of course the Zambia Festival of Action. If you want to know more then head for the GreenPop website and contact them.