RETREET redefines disaster relief by engaging communities to replant lost trees.
ROWLETT RETREET December 8th-11th, 2016
The evening of December 26th, 2015, a massive EF4 tornado struck Rowlett, TX, a city located barely 15 miles from our headquarters. It was 1 of 9 tornadoes that tore through the suburbs of Dallas that night. The path of destruction through Rowlett was 1/2 mile wide and 4 miles long, with 1,145 homes and business damaged, 23 people injured, and 1 life lost.
When news of the disaster reached our community, we immediately knew we would be heavily involved in the recovery process. We held a meeting with our friends Texas Trees Foundation in early 2016 and set about building a powerful cadre of partners to tackle the massive project, one we knew would take years to complete. After perfecting our model over the past 5 years across North America, we were ready to bring its power home to help our neighbors.
With so many offers of help, our focus widened to include development of a robust series of programs meant to highlight some of North Texas' best elements. A truly unique week began to take shape. ROWLETT RETREET was in the works.
THE HOME DEPOT CONTINUES TO BE AN INCREDIBLE PARTNER
Whole Foods Market - Lakewood also held a 5% Giving Day, during which they donated 5% of the day's net sales in support of our local operations. We set up a promo booth near the entrance and shared our story with every customer who stopped by to check out our shirts and prints. It was an excellent event that generated nearly $5,000 for the cause and added quite a few names to our email list.
5% GIVING DAY AT WHOLE FOODS MARKET - LAKEWOOD
Thursday, the 8th, RETREETers delivered trees and mulch to home sites in Rowlett with the help of Texas Trees Foundation and Preservation Tree Services. Over 230 trees reached their final planting locations that morning, awaiting the attention of skilled volunteers.
Following that distribution, our staff headed back to Dallas to host a screening of "Can You Dig This" at The Texas Theatre. The film, hosted in partnership with Earth Day Texas as part of the TEDxSMU Film Series, showcases Mr. Finley's work to educate and empower residents of South Central LA to plant their own food. Over 200 people attended, and lots of great questions were asked during a Q&A with Mr. Finley following the screening. It was a memorable evening that introduced a lot of new people to our community.
A CROWD GATHERS AT THE TEXAS THEATER FOR OUR SCREENING OF "CAN YOU DIG THIS" WITH RON FINLEY
The next day, Friday, the 9th, RETREETers went on a bicycle tour of Dallas led by Richardson Bike Mart, who also loaned us extra bicycles from their esteemed fleet. We visited White Rock Lake, The Santa Fe Trail, Deep Ellum, Downtown, and Dealey Plaza. Though it was a bit cold outside, we had a great time rolling around on two wheels.
After dropping off tools and other supplies at Church in the City, our staging location in Rowlett, and stopping at a local resident's home for an interview with ABC news, we made our way over to Mudhen Meat and Greens, a farm-to-table restaurant located in the newly renovated Dallas Farmers Market. There, we held our official welcome dinner.
ON OUR BICYCLE TOUR OF DALLAS
Planting day arrived! An incredible group of 200 volunteers braved the cold to gather on Saturday morning, the 10th, in Rowlett, ready to transform neighborhoods. The mayor of Rowlett and several city council members addressed the assembled crowd, as did our executive director and the director of operations for Texas Trees Foundation. The excitement was palpable. After posing for a group photo, 15 teams were formed. Each team was given a planting demonstration on the ground of the church, then sent to a list of homes. All told, 245 trees, all 15-gallons in size, were planted at 134 locations in 5 hours.
THE ROWLETT RETREET PLANTING GROUP
Not only did volunteers come out for ROWLETT RETREET en masse, so did the press! Every major news channel ran a full story about our effort. We were honored to receive such coverage. The stories ran all weekend and even spread to other markets around Texas.
Saturday night, we held a celebratory dinner at The Urban Cloud, our new live/work compound in Southeast Dallas. Food was prepared by Chef Justin Box of The Cedars Social, who also served us during TREE FEAST last May. Friends and family of RETREETers joined in the fun and festivities lasted well into the evening.
The following morning, we joined The Great Seed Bomb to make and drop 750 seed bombs during a hike through the Lower Chain of Wetlands in The Great Trinity Forest. It was a relaxing way to cap and impactful weekend. Until the next one!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.98
What to do when you run out of potential green space in an urban environment and still want to plant more trees? Create a floating forest! Jeroen Everaert, a resident of Rotterdam who runs an art production company, has been working with the city to establish trees in unused harbor space. Quite the installation piece!
THE FLOATING FOREST OF ROTTERDAM (article)
In celebration of Black History Month, we share the following story. Few know of the all-black 25th mobile infantry, a group of incredibly tough men who rode 1,900 across the US on bicycles in 1897 in order to test the new device as a potential mode of troop transport. The story of their adventure is incredible, to say the least.
BLACK BICYCLE CORPS (article)
A man in Seattle, whose close relations call The Human Shovel, transplants unwanted trees using nothing more than a shovel, pickaxe, and antique truck. Over the past five years, Bernie O'Brien has saved hundreds of trees from the bulldozer. Noble work indeed.
SEATTLE TREE TRANSPLANTER (video)
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.97
A German forest ranger named Peter Wohlleben made a name for himself by releasing his book "The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries from a Secret World," which unexpectedly became a national bestseller. These days, he spends most of his time out of the forest and on the publicity circuit talking about the social networks of trees. The ways in which they work together will surprise you!
TREES HAVE SOCIAL NETWORKS (article)
We have presented several articles over the past couple of years regarding the psychological benefits of trees. Certainly, there is no better evidence of this than the sentiments received from the residents of the communities in which we plant. Bicycles, too, improve moods. But how, and why?
WHY CYCLING MAKES US HAPPY (article)
In Singapore, a fascinating new construction project incorporates a giant vertical forest nestled between four apartment buildings. The Green Heart, as it is known, resembles rice terraces and incorporates gardens, pools, waterfalls, and, of course, tons and tons of trees. We hope to see this one day!
A FOREST IN AN ATRIUM (photo essay)
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.84
Over the course of this year, every second grader in the D.C. public school system will be taught the ABCs of riding a bicycle. This innovative program makes use of 1,000 new bikes, purchased by the District Department of transportation with the help of private donors, that will rotate from one school to the next. An important part of a robust education.
D.C. KIDS LEARN TO RIDE BICYCLES IN SCHOOL (article)
After becoming an authority on living a nomadic lifestyle by traveling the world and living out of vans, photographer Foster Huntington created one amazing treehouse. His new home, Cinder Cone Treehouse, which he built in Skamania, WA, has its own skatepark. Not too shabby!
TREEHOUSE WITH SKATEPARK (photos)
Have you ever wanted to just get on your bike and go someplace far away? These lifehacks will help you along the way. A must-read list for any two-wheeled adventurer.
BIKEPACKING LIFEHACKS (list)
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.69
We all love bicycles, but the folks BBC Autos spent some time compiling a list of the 10 bicycles that most tickle their fancy. How do you feel about their particular selections? Any you would swap out?
10 MOST BEAUTIFUL BICYCLES (slideshow)
Do you love classic Disney films and trees? This video is for you. Walt Disney takes us into the studio to show us how four of his most famous artists illustrated his best-known films, then leads the whole group into a field where we see all of them paint the same tree in their signature styles. Love it.
4 DISNEY ARTISTS PAINT 1 TREE (short film)
The Korean government has constructed a bike trail from Daejeon to Sejong, two cities about 2-3 hours south of the capital, Seoul. Not only is the trail shaded, it generates solar power!
KOREAN SOLAR BIKE TRAIL (drone footage)
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.67
We rarely see cycling skills to match those of ACT 4, an all-female team from Slovakia. Give this short video from one of their competitions a watch and be amazed! It's hard to imagine doing most of these tricks on two wheels.
ACT 4 CYCLING TEAM FROM SLOVAKIA (video)
Sometimes, reverse psychology is the best way to get your point across. That's exactly the tactic TreePeople, a nonprofit in California, employed when making this film about saving concrete. It's sure to make you smile.
SAVE CONCRETE! (video)
The Loopwheel is an innovative concept that replaces spokes by integrating shock absorbers directly into its design. This sweet wheel makes for less bumpy and quieter rides.
LOOPWHEEL (article and video)
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.40
It is said that Rua Goncalo de Carvalho in Porto Alegre, Brazil, is the most beautiful street in the world. More than 100 trees, some 7 stories tall, form a tight canopy that creates a river of green that runs through the city. Take a stroll, in pictures!
Every Sunday morning, Mexico City's main avenue, Paseo de la Reforma is closed to regular traffic and open to cyclists and pedestrians. Looks like a lot of fun. Does your city do something similar?
In India, a massive project has been launched to plant 2 billion trees in order to combat unemployment. Talk about green jobs!
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STREET IN THE WORLD (PHOTOS)
DOMINGO DE BICICLETAS IN MEXICO CITY
2 BILLION TREE PLANTING PROJECT IN INDIA (ARTICLE)
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.25
Did you have a good weekend? Ride your bike or plant a tree? We hope the weather is warming up, wherever you are!
This week, we present an entertaining animation about the evolution of the bicycle, the lowdown on bike types and how to tell which one is for you, a three-part documentary called "The Truth About Trees," and a link to information and registration for Fort Collins RETREET II. If you are free Memorial Day Weekend, join us as we plant in the aftermath of fires and floods.
EVOLUTION OF THE BICYCLE
THE LOWDOWN ON BIKE TYPES
TRUTH ABOUT TREES
FORT COLLINS RETREET II
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.19
With the Winter Olympics in full swing, we wanted to share some links to quirky Russian stories about bikes, trees, and communities. So, click the links below to see:
A chainsaw-powered bicycle;
Some BMX cyclists jumping off the roof of a 16-story building;
The tale of a family who survived in the Siberian wilderness for 40 years without contact with the outside world;
More about the Taiga Forest, the largest terrestrial biome on Earth, in which 29% of the world's trees live.
If you want to learn more about life in the Taiga, check out Werner Herzog's documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga. In the meantime, enjoy the games!