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June 26, 2017


#RollUpOurSleeves with Greening of Detroit

Members of Team Shinola at River Rouge Park volunteering with The Greening of Detroit.

June 26, 2017

Earlier this month, #TeamShinola joined 100 other community members to #RollUpOurSleeves together in support of The Greening of Detroit, an organization that focuses on enhancing the quality of life for Detroiters by repurposing vacant land to create beautiful and productive green spaces. It wasn't easy, but we had a great time pitching in. 

People from all walks of life joined us to plant 900 trees at River Rouge Park on Detroit's West side; many local businesses and organizations pitched in a helping hand. Read more about our experience volunteering with The Greening of Detroit and learn about why this organization is at the center of the city's revitalization below.

"There's something about doing little things like this that make a big difference at the end of the day for both our Earth and community," Shinola Project Engineering Manager Aracely De Hoyos says.

Aracely frequently steps up to participate every time Shinola has a new volunteer opportunity and enjoys coming together with coworkers to help her community. "It's crazy to see what you can accomplish as a team. Rolling those heavy trees was difficult. I definitely couldn’t do it on my own, and I needed someone next to me and in front of me to set up the tree just right in the perfect spot." 

Detroit's tree canopy is about 22.5 percent and the optimal is 40 percent. Urban forests are more than just eye-catching, they provide a myriad of essential services to all people living in urban areas such as: reduced energy use, improved water quality, diverse wildlife habitat, and increased human health and well-being. Each year, Greening of Detroit plants about 6,000 trees, totaling more than 85,000 trees since 1989. 

Between 1950 and 1980, around 500,000 trees were lost in Detroit to Dutch elm disease, urban expansion and attrition. During that same time, economic constraints prohibited the city from replacing those trees.Troubled by this deforestation of a great city, Elizabeth Gordon Sachs devoted herself to reforesting the city. She played a key role in the 1989 founding of The Greening of Detroit. The Greening of Detroit was founded in 1989 with a single focus in mind – restore the city's tree infrastructure.

Today, in addition to planting trees, The Greening provides the community with resources and training to grow and prepare healthy fresh food. The Greening cultivates environmental stewards through education and hands-on learning. Classroom curriculum and outdoor field trips help young people learn about nature all around them.

The trees they plant, along with the gardens and green spaces they create and maintain all add up to benefit Detroit, while the workforce training programs all provide economic, environmental and social benefits to the communities. Most importantly, visitors and residents are inspired to imagine a new paradigm for the City of Detroit.

As a lead partner in the Land Forum coalition, The Greening of Detroit planned and implemented five community events last year that drew over 600 residents wanting to learn more about how to purchase land in the city. Attendees received step-by-step guidance on acquiring and reusing vacant land. 

The Greening’s staff followed up with residents who are actively engaged in some state of negotiations or preparations to buy land. The Greening also prepared a proposal for the Detroit Land Bank Authority to become a Community Partner. Through the community partnership agreement, the designation will allow The Greening to usher more residents through the process of land ownership.

A Land Forum workshop series is being offered to help Detroit residents through the process of buying vacant property in the city. It's a traveling workshop designed to demystify the process of buying vacant Detroit property and to build a cohort of informed buyers from the community. Each workshop takes place in a different neighborhood roughly once every six weeks.

The Greening of Detroit relies on the support of many volunteers, donors, community and corporate partners throughout the year. If you're interested in volunteering at the next public planting event, visit their website for more information, here

Learn more about #RollUpOurSleeves


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