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