Plant A Forest: Here We Go!
Last month, my wife Sandi passed me an article in our local newspaper about a tree seedling program. I read it and asked “hey honey, want to start planting lots of trees?” To which she responded “sure!” The I thought…maybe we could plant a forest! And that was the beginning.
After 9/11, Sandi and I decided that the world had gone wacky and we needed to chart our own path. We decided to quit our jobs and start our own business.
Here we are, in 2019, running a web development company. We’ve learned over the years that we love doing websites that make a difference. As I like to say, there are enough companies selling chia pet type products. We specialized in web accessibility and did a lot of websites not for profits. We loved helping green companies and ones that support community. It’s been a fulfilling ride so far!
During this time we became what you could call community actionists. People started calling us the Gauders. We served on different boards and committees ranging from art to business. We’ve belonged to service organizations, continue to help an orphanage in India and founded, what is now, five local “100 that Care organizations” that have to date raised over $400,000 for local community groups. We aren’t wealthy. In fact we picked an industry that shifts, changes and moves. We struggle, but we own our own jobs and employ others. It’s our own game, so to speak, and we love the journey.
Over the years we discovered that because we were willing to fail, to try new things, to add value, that in this wacky world, we could actually make a living and have a fulfilling life. And volunteering with so many different organizations, we discovered what we liked and didn’t. One of the biggest things we discovered was the magic in bringing together individuals, and together with their small amounts of money, could do a lot of good things that make a difference.
The Green Years
Along the way, Sandi and I had also been labelled by some of our friends as “their green friends” because we tried to reduce our footprint. The truth is, when owning a business, you tend to look for ways of reducing costs. Many of the “green things” to reduce electricity, water, waste, food costs etc. did just that. We kept looking for more until we had pieced enough small action to move from being considered cheap to being green. Well, that plus we love nature and are gardeners. Being in front of computers and electronics all day made us yearn for getting our hands in real dirt and enjoying nature. There were a lot of other green things we were involved with which I don’t want to get into here, but let’s just say we are tree caressers and green enthusiasts. But plant a forest? Not yet.
Then one day I listened to a 15-year-old named Greta Thunberg speak at a world climate conference. She spoke her truth and made me tear up. In fact every time I watched it, I would tear up. She spoke again to the leaders at Davos and the EU. Her message was directly to adults. She asked us to stop talking, arguing, delaying and start acting. Because we adults were stealing her future and there was no more time. She was right. Her message penetrated deep inside like no one had ever done. But other than make small changes that we had been doing plus talking about it and sharing the information that we’ve discovered, what actions could we directly take?
At the beginning of 2019 we signed a new website client in Belize. Sandi and I had decided to fly down, get some great pictures and content for the website. Although it was the first time in 6 years we would be flying, I still felt guilty adding more carbon into the atmosphere. I calculated the tons of carbon we’d be using and asked a friend what carbon credit system they used. He said “why don’t you just plant some trees?” I shared that story with Sandi who replied: “do you know how many trees we planted last year already?” She had a point. We liked to plant trees.
To Plant a Forest, You Need to Buy Trees
That statement, “why don’t you just plant trees” stuck. One day Sandi passed me that article about the seedling program from Kawartha Conservation and here we are.
The first step was a willingness for us to act. But as many people know, you next have to commit and get going. I discussed the idea with a friend who suggested we start small and ask a farmer who may need a wind break or fill in trees that had died due to recent bug infestations and disease. We asked Jessica Foote at Lunar Rhythm Gardens, our wonderful local organic CSA farmer, if she would be open to us planting some trees on her property. She enthusiastically said yes, but could we do trees and fruit shrubs so she could produce permaculture to feed animals and humans too? Absolutely! One of the lessons we’ve learned over the years is that where you start isn’t where you end up. That the more people you involve, the more the idea evolves and improves.
The next step was buying the seedlings. We thought we’d do 100 ourselves, but then Jess said she could do 300. So we called up Kawartha Conservation and committed to 300. With the added cost, we had the idea of asking others if they wanted to pitch in and participate. I put it out to my circle of friends on Facebook and boom, within 48 hours we had raised enough money!
Some of the people wanted to bring their children to plant trees. Others sent messages saying “thank you for organizing this.” There’s was a lot of feel good around this. So we asked ourselves “could this be a pilot project for something bigger?” Could we perhaps evolve this into something that could do some good for the planet and perhaps create a model that could even generate a bit of money to buy land to plant a forest and even employ someone? Could we plant forests?
And so, here we are. We registered this domain and decided share this journey with you on this blog. Because it’s simply better with friends.
So come along with us on this journey with us! The trees go in the ground April 27th.