RETREET BLOG

RETREET redefines disaster relief by engaging communities to replant lost trees.


KOKOMO RETREET
November 3rd-5th, 2017
 

On August 24th, 2016, an EF3 tornado struck Kokomo, IN, damaging and destroying homes, apartments, and businesses throughout the city. At the request of Indiana Department of Natural Resources and in partnership with City of Kokomo and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., RETREET organized 47 volunteers representing 6 states, FCA US, and Team Depot to plant 120 trees at 56 homes sites and in Highland Park on Saturday, November 4th, 2017. Funding for the event was provided by The Home Depot Foundation, Heritage, Duke Energy, and Davey Resource Group.

OUR PLANTING GROUP IN KOKOMO

OUR PLANTING GROUP IN KOKOMO

The week leading up to our planting, members of Team Locate, comprised of employees from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and Duke Energy, met with each resident to determine planting locations for each tree, taking into account utility lines (above and below), sidewalks, driveways, and building position. Right tree, right place!

MAP OF PLANTING LOCATIONS FOR KOKOMO RETREET

MAP OF PLANTING LOCATIONS FOR KOKOMO RETREET

On Thursday, November 2nd, the RETREET rig and the RETREETmobile joined forces, as RETREETers from across the U.S. converged in Indianapolis. The following day, they drove to Kokomo to receive trees from Woody Warehouse Nursery and planting supplies from The Home Depot. After offloading the supplies, the merry band of volunteers distributed the material to home sites in anticipation of planting the following day. City of Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., were on site to help.

THE HOME DEPOT DELIVERS SUPPLIES TO KOKOMO

THE HOME DEPOT DELIVERS SUPPLIES TO KOKOMO

That evening, we hosted a welcome dinner at The Rathskeller for RETREETers, as well as local friends and family. The Rathskeller is located within Athenæum, an ornate, historic building in the Mass Ave area of Indianapolis that was designed and built by Kurt Vonnegut's grandfather, Bernard Vonnegut. The heart of the German community in Indianapolis, The Rathskeller serves up delicious German food and beer, and has a fantastic performance space in the back where our group watch local band Stella Luna perform.

A NIGHT OUT AT THE RATHSKELLER

A NIGHT OUT AT THE RATHSKELLER

On Saturday, November 4th, our ranks swelled with local volunteers who showed up to plant in Kokomo. Greg Goodnight, the mayor of Kokomo, addressed the gathered crowd, telling them stories of the tornado, the aftermath of that destructive event, and the importance of our efforts to bring a sense of environmental identity back to his community. On the heels of an entertaining tree planting demonstration given by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., small groups headed out to home sites to plant 120 native trees for 56 families.

A HAPPY FAMILY IN KOKOMO WITH THEIR NEW TREE

A HAPPY FAMILY IN KOKOMO WITH THEIR NEW TREE

Once planting had finished, volunteers returned to Rodgers Pavilion in Highland Park, where dinner was provided by Nameless Catering. Volunteers shared stories from the day and exchanged information with new friends. RETREETers then bid farewell to Kokomo and headed back to Indianapolis for a night out on the town.

The next day, we loaded up the RETREETmobile and drove over to 100 Acres Art and Nature Park, where local RETREETers showed us the grounds, where some incredible installation art pieces and trees were on display. After a warm meal at Yats and a stop for truffles and cocoa at The Best Chocolate, we spent the remainder of the afternoon at Midland Arts & Antique Market. As the reviews suggest, it was a fun place to spend a rainy day. Everyone found a treasure, or two. We made dinner together at our Airbnb that evening to celebrate the birthday of one of our most ardent RETREETers. 

TAKING A TOUR OF THE ART PARK AT 100 ACRES

TAKING A TOUR OF THE ART PARK AT 100 ACRES

After dropping off a few folks at the airport in the morning, the remainder of our host visited the headquarters of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., where were we given a full tour. It was incredibly impressive to see and a clear model for our future operations. We learned a lot just by seeing what they have built over the past 40 years. KOKOMO RETREET wound down with a walk around Fountain Square and a craft sandwich from Wildwood Market. It was so good, we left a review.

THE GREEN ROOF ON TOP OF KIBI HEADQUARTERS

THE GREEN ROOF ON TOP OF KIBI HEADQUARTERS

Once back in Dallas, we received a letter from the mayor of Kokomo. It was wonderful to hear how much our planting meant to that community. We look forward to our return!

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BOULDER RETREET III
June 2nd-5th, 2017
 

Our plan to return to Lyons, CO, a community of about 2,000 people 15 miles north of Boulder, began to formulate immediately upon the successful completion of BOULDER RETREET II. Local partners asked us to return the following year to attend to residents who were not ready to receive trees during our first planting in their community. We were quick to say yes. Talks also began with City of Lyons to generate a plan for the 28 barren buyout lots peppered throughout the confluence area, a storyline that continues to develop!

RETREET staff struck out for Boulder on Tuesday, May 30th, driving the RETREETmobile and new RETREET truck out-of-state for the first time. A host of activities awaited and the RETREET family was ready for this reunion. It was sure to be an excellent way to end the 2016/2017 planting season.

After checking into the amazing home we reserved 5 miles up Sunshine Canyon, we went for a hike, picked up food for the week, and set about finalizing our plans for the planting. Excitement built.

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Most RETREETers arrived in Boulder on Thursday, June 1st. That evening, the group attended a Chromeo and Rüfüs du Sol concert at Red Rocks, one of the most incredible performance venues in North America. We danced the night away as the sunset gave way to the moonrise over Denver. It was truly magical.

WAITING FOR THE SHOW TO START AT RED ROCKS

WAITING FOR THE SHOW TO START AT RED ROCKS

The next morning, trees and supplies were delivered to Lyons by our partners The Home Depot and Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery. RETREETers spent most of the day unloading and distributing the materials to home sites. They also enjoyed a walk around the community, during which they visited trees planted the previous year, spoke with residents, and explored a newly-rebuilt park across the street from the confluence area. It was wonderful to see so much progress in Lyons and to know we'd played an important role.

The group then drove over the mountain to Jamestown, the location of our planting during BOULDER RETREET back in 2015. We met with a town representative at Jamestown Mercantile, a familiar haunt, and ordered an epic round of pizzas. While they were baking, the crew explored the small community and checked on the progress of the trees that were planted 2 years earlier. We are happy to report that the vast majority of them were doing incredibly well! Several locals came out to say hello and thank us for the impact we'd made.

VISITING TREES IN JAMESTOWN

VISITING TREES IN JAMESTOWN

The next day started off with a special treat. Unbeknownst to us, Sunshine Pottery Studio also called our rented abode home, and the proprietors of the Airbnb were the artists themselves. They offered a pottery class to the RETREETers, and the offer was heartily accepted. We spent the morning throwing clay on wheels and came away with some great creations, especially for first attempts. After the pottery class, the cadre went for a gorgeous hike through Lefthand Canyon. Some RETREETers were a bit more adventurous than others, scaling boulders and finding epic perches along the way. The only fitting way to end such a fantastic day was to whip up a big meal. Together, that's exactly what we did.

THROWING POTS AT SUNSHINE POTTERY

THROWING POTS AT SUNSHINE POTTERY

Following a solid sleep with full bellies, the RETREETers arose Sunday morning, June 5th, ready to plant trees. Joined by 26 Team Depot volunteers and supported by Colorado State Forest Service, the ensemble planted 55 native trees at 11 homes sites and in 3 buyout properties, the latter of which were to serve as a pilot for others, as aforementioned. Luckily, the weather was perfect. Digging conditions were tough, given a large amount of compaction and rocks washing into the soil by the flood, but the group persevered.

Most RETREETers headed home that evening or the following day, but not before we got in a good bike ride around Boulder. BOULDER RETREET III was a productive, relaxing, and meaningful experience. Can't wait for the next one! Special thanks to additional sponsors Lyons Garden Club and Lyons Lions Club.

BIKING AROUND BOULDER

BIKING AROUND BOULDER

 


 
BOULDER RETREET II
June 3rd-5th, 2016

Lyons, CO, is a community of about 2,000 people 15 miles north of Boulder. In the 1860s, families from the eastern U.S. began settling land that had been home to the Ute Nation. In 1881, Edward S. Lyon founded the town after buying 160 acres and opening a sandstone quarrying operation. Over the years, Lyons grew into a reputable destination for those wishing to spend time in its unforgettable scenery.

On September 12th, 2013, Lyons was severely affected by floodwater that inundated much of the front range, including Jamestown and Evans, the sites of our two previous Colorado RETREETs. The National Guard began evacuating the entire town at daybreak. One life was lost.

Last weekend, 35 volunteers gathered in Lyons to plant 100 trees at 20 homes and in Bohn Park. Their unique contribution to the landscape of that community greatly impacted the residents in a way that will be long remembered, much like their experience of participating in BOULDER RETREET II!

BOULDER RETREET II PLANTING GROUP

BOULDER RETREET II PLANTING GROUP

RETREETers began to arrive in Denver on Wednesday, June 1st, just in time for the Denver Cruiser Ride. A favorite from last year, the DCR's theme this time around was "The People of Walmart." We did our best to blend. Our group made a lot of new friends at the starting point, Little Machine Brewery, and at the The Dead End, the ceremonial end point which is little more than a cul-de-sac on the other side of the train tracks, under a bridge. A great party ensued.

DENVER CRUISER RIDE

DENVER CRUISER RIDE

The next morning, trees and supplies began to arrive in Lyons and RETREETers were on site to receive them. The Home Depot delivered mulch, wildlife protection, and tools, all of which they donated through a grant from The Home Depot Foundation. Trees, including Colorado spruce, wavyleaf oak, hotwings maple, and thinleaf alder, were procured from Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery and were purchased with funds granted by both Lyons Lions Club and LUSH Cosmetics. Staff from the Town of Lyons and the Parks Department helped deliver material to home sites with us that day, in anticipation of the planting. The previous week, members of Colorado State Forest Service met with each resident in order to mark appropriate planting locations. By the end of the day, we were set to plant.

SUPPLIES BEING DELIVERED BY THE HOME DEPOT

SUPPLIES BEING DELIVERED BY THE HOME DEPOT

On Friday, the 3rd, a dozen RETREETers gathered at Full Cycle, a bike shop in downtown Boulder that provided bicycles for folks traveling in from far and wide. Cyclists 4 Community, a partner from last year and a likeminded organization that has raised $200,000 for flood victims to date, then took us on a wonderful guided ride, a loop between Boulder and Lyons. It was an absolutely perfect day, group, and route.

RIDE AROUND BOULDER

RIDE AROUND BOULDER

All remaining RETREETers arrived in Colorado on Saturday and, once gathered, the assembly headed to The Outdoor Games. Everyone took turns enjoying the festival and manning the RETREET booth, a perfect opportunity to reach out to a highly receptive crowd. Luckily, we set up right in front of the BMX course, which made for some spectacular views. We capped the night with a group dinner at The Mediterranean and a stroll around Boulder. Talk about a taste of Colorado!

THE LYONS OUTDOOR GAMES

THE LYONS OUTDOOR GAMES

Sunday, members of Team Depot joined RETREETers for a demonstration planting in Bohn Park, after which a group planting was held. From there, small groups were formed and sent into neighborhoods, each planting at 5 homes. At the end of the day, the crew enjoyed dinner and drinks at Oskar Blues, in celebration with local residents. The mayor even popped by to say thanks!

DEMONSTRATION PLANTING IN BOHN PARK

DEMONSTRATION PLANTING IN BOHN PARK

Additional operational support for BOULDER RETREET was provided by Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, who approved a $10,000 grant in support of BOULDER RETREET II. We offer them our gratitude. We can't wait to come plant trees again in Colorado!

 


 
BOULDER RETREET
June 20+21, 2015

On BOULDER RETREET, 25 RETREETers planted 96 trees at 21 homes in Jamestown, CO, making a major impact that will last for generations to come. A small community of 275 up in the mountains west of Boulder, Jamestown was once a prospecting destination, as thousands of men inundated the area in the late 1800s searching for silver and gold. 

In 2003, most of the trees covering the hillside behind Jamestown burned in the Overland Fire. A decade later, on September 11, 2013, the community experienced a 1,000-year flood. Seventeen inches of rain fell in a single day, almost the average annual precipitation. With little to absorb the immense amount of floodwater pouring down the mountainside, nearby gulches were quickly overwhelmed. Floating debris damned up the main bridge in town and caused the river to breach its banks. Much of the town was buried in several feet of rubble; the landscape forever altered. Under a mandatory evacuation order, 90% of residents were airlifted to safety. Jamestown remained inaccessible by the main road for months. After nearly two years of rebuilding housing and infrastructure, the time came to replant trees and make it feel one step closer to home for those who live there. 

RETREETers READY TO REPLANT JAMESTOWN

RETREETers READY TO REPLANT JAMESTOWN

The first RETREETers arrived in Denver on Wednesday afternoon, the 17th, having made the long haul from Dallas. After settling into the funky Washington Park home we'd reserved on Airbnb, the group devised makeshift costumes to fit the theme of that evening's Denver Cruiser Ride: "Cardboard, Bubble Wrap, and Duct Tape." We hopped on our bikes and joined the vast menagerie of cyclists snaking through the streets, whose number eventually culminated in one of the largest two-wheel gatherings we have ever seen!  

DENVER CRUISER RIDE

DENVER CRUISER RIDE

Thursday morning we rode to Golden, where the west begins and where Coors is brewed. The 45 mile jaunt was filled with diverse terrain and scenery. We observed the effects the recent rains had on the local trail system and, after a bit of wandering and a spot of lunch, we rolled back to the homestead and converged with newly-arriving members of our group. That evening, we enjoyed pizza just a stone's throw from our abode.

THE RIDE TO GOLDEN

THE RIDE TO GOLDEN

On Friday, the day before the planting, RETREET staff oversaw the delivery of trees from Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery, a long-term partner whose stock is top notch. We then visited The Home Depot in Boulder, with whom we had filed a successful $2,000 grant application through the The Home Depot Foundation, in order to acquire compost, mulch, and tools needed for the planting. After a quick stop at Whole Foods Market on Pearl to pickup a $250 gift card given by the store to cover the follow day's lunch, RETREET staff reunited with the main group in Boulder, whose tally had grown significantly during the preceding hours as new RETREETers arrived from afar. After dinner, our caravan climbed up the mountain to Balarat Outdoor Education Center, where we stayed for the weekend.

PICKING UP SUPPLIES AT THE HOME DEPOT

PICKING UP SUPPLIES AT THE HOME DEPOT

On planting day, RETREETers were welcomed to town by local representatives and treated to a presentation about the flood and its effects on the community. After a proper planting demonstration, given by members of Colorado State Forest Service and RETREET staff, the company broke into small groups and headed into the neighborhood. Six hours later, the majority of trees were planted, and the RETREETers were ready to celebrate. Jamestown Mercantile cooked up a delicious feast, with local brews and music on tap. Quite a few folks danced the night away! The rest went back to camp and made cookies.

Sunday, last few trees were planted and the remaining RETREETers went for a hike up Moorhead Gulch. There, evidence of the flood was clearly visible. We took a break to pan the river and struck gold!

PLANTING THE LAST TREE IN JAMESTOWN

PLANTING THE LAST TREE IN JAMESTOWN

BOULDER RETREET was a very community-based effort. Our team really plugged into the local scene. CLICK HERE to view the photo album and CLICK HERE to see the town's press release regarding the event. Our efforts marked a noticeable transition in the Jamestown's recovery efforts. Check out the letter below, which was sent to us by Nina Andaloro, Jamestown's volunteer and donations coordinator. A heartfelt and special thank you is offered to Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, whose $10,000 grant underwrote the event. RETREET is proud of the work we accomplished in Jamestown and we look forward to further plantings this coming winter, soon to be announced!

 


 
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL
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It's that time of the year again! North Texas Giving Day is here. There is no better day to make a contribution in support of RETREET's mission: to help communities replant in the wake of disaster. All donations of $25 or more made THIS THURSDAY, September 18th in between 6:00am and midnight will be amplified by $2 million in bonus funds and prizes. Multiply your contribution!

Today, we planted 8 more trees in Evans, CO, in commemoration of the 1-year anniversary of the flood that damaged a significant portion of the town. An extension of our efforts during Fort Collins RETREET II, today's planting marks an almost complete RETREETment of Riverside Parkway. Check out some photos from the event below.

In case you missed it, be sure to watch a video about the amazing Blink Twice video installation at this year's Summer Set Festival in Somerset, WI. 

1ST ANNIVERSARY PLANTING IN EVANS, CO (photos)

1ST ANNIVERSARY PLANTING IN EVANS, CO (photos)

BLINK TWICE (video)

BLINK TWICE (video)