RETREET redefines disaster relief by engaging communities to replant lost trees.
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!
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
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
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
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
WIMBERLEY RETREET January 16th-18th, 2016
On Memorial Day weekend in 2015, more than 12 inches of rain fell along the watershed of the Blanco River in just a few short hours. In Wimberley, TX, the river rose from roughly 5 feet to a crest just over 41 feet, far above the 13 feet flood stage and well past the all-time peak level of 32 feet set in 1929. Tremendous flash flooding ensued as a result.
Entire blocks of homes in Wimberley were swept away by a "tidal wave of water" (The Wall Street Journal). Officials reported 320 homes destroyed in the town and 12 people lost their lives. Many of the centuries-old trees that lined the riverbank and formed a major part of Wimberley's identity were reduced to piles of rubble.
The week after the devastating flood, a man named Ryan reached out to RETREET asking for help. Ryan said he had called agencies, organizations, and businesses all over the country to ask for assistance and was told time and time again to contact RETREET. He was overjoyed to have our office on the phone and was hopeful that we would be able to bring trees back to Wimberley. We immediately made a commitment to do just that.
Our planting party began to arrive in Wimberley on Saturday morning, the 16th. Most took a bicycle ride that afternoon, led by a local cyclist, that started in Blue Hole Regional Park. After the ride, everyone enjoyed a free round courtesy of Twisted X Brewing Company. The group then sat for a fabulous meal at The Leaning Pear and, after dessert, wandered over to The Buzzard Bar for some evening entertainment. It was a fun introduction to town.
Sunday, January 17th, 33 RETREETers who had traveled to Wimberley from 7 states and Washington, D.C., were joined by 45 additional volunteers from all over central Texas, including students from Katherine Ann Porter Charter High School. All told, the group planted 206 trees at 37 homes and 2 community parks during 8 hours of hard work.
Following the planting, RETREET held a free community meal for all volunteers, residents, and partners—an epic Persian feast prepared by chef Daniel Avazpour.
Ready to replant homesites along the Blanco River.
A number of press outlets covered the event, including FOX, NBC, and The Weather Channel, which did a live, nationwide interview with our Executive Director onsite at the first planting location, a community park on River Road. It was an amazing opportunity to tell the story of the floods in Wimberley and RETREET's efforts to begin replanting the riverbank.
Live Nationwide Interview with The Weather Channel (video link)
Greatest of all, though, was the feedback we received from the residents of Wimberley. We got phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, and even a hand-written letter praising the volunteers not only for their work, but also for their professionalism and cheery demeanor. We are proud to call so many amazing individuals RETREETers, and to know that their presence in Wimberley will be felt for generations to come. What an amazing community!
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!
SUNDAY SHOW & TELL vol.45
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.