Boulder County Earth Day Tree-Plenish

Happy start to summer, with the arrival of Memorial Day! Looking back at the 2021-2022 year at Fairview Institute, we did a number of projects, including taking action to improve our community on Earth Day, last month.

After the devastation of the Marshall Fire, and several local wildfires in March, members of the Institute partnered with students at other schools around the Boulder Valley School District, to initiate an effort to plant 1,200 trees around the Louisville and Superior communities, as part of the rebuilding efforts.

Our student-led coalition reached out to the Tree Plenish Organization, which generously supplied our project with several thousand saplings, all ordered by community members and open-space groups. All trees were planted on Earth Day and then some, in a different initiative, on Arbor Day as well.

Our student-led coalition garnered support and help from the City of Boulder’s Cool Boulder Initiative, The Nature Conservancy’s Colorado Chapter, numerous local businesses, and thousands of local residents.

In preparation of tree planting on Earth Day, we attained planting permission from local city councils, residents, and school administrations, and enlisted the help of hundreds of volunteers.

On Earth Day, our project, based out of three local high schools, distributed 2,350 trees, which were all planted in Boulder, Louisville, Superior, and surrounding government-owned open spaces. Our project was an overwhelming success, with the help of dozens of volunteer teams, and conscientious home-owners.

Efforts to maintain the health of the trees continue, with regular watering, and up-keep, to sustain the impact of the Earth Day planting.

We hope to re-organize the project again for Earth Day 2023, next year, in which case, we will again be looking for support, tree orders, and volunteers. It would be a great way to improve the Boulder County community – what we, here at Fairview Institute are continually working towards.

Turning a Green Lawn into a Green Future

Part of our front yard. Notice the many types of plants, and all the colors. You might also notice the wood chips – which were provided by ChipDrop.

Happy start to 2022! Now, in the new year, we have the privilege of looking back on 2021 from a climate vantage point. The Boulder community alone saw an abnormally warm year, particularly marked by nearly six months with little rainfall, breaking the all-time state record for the least precipitation in the second half of the year according to the National Weather Service. Boulder County also broke at least nine daily maximum temperature records between April and December, according to NOAA.

One facet of the battle against a warmer world is water conservation. In light of the extreme drought, heat waves, and below-average snow accumulation Colorado saw last year, efforts to conserve water are all the more important.

A major way that homeowners can participate in conservation efforts is through xeriscaping. Colorado is known for its abundant sunshine throughout the year but, as a result, supplemental water usage is essential. Even in Boulder, we were watering our plants and grass in early December due to such a long period of drought.

My family and I realized a few years ago that our water bill was sky-high, and our lawn was parched – an unintuitive combination. We decided it was time to transform our lawn from an inefficient water-sink into an array of native plants, flowers, and grasses that would both need less water, and potentially look even nicer than a lawn.

If you’re feeling hesitant about xeriscaping your yard, you can also read an article published by Colorado Public Radio that details why xeriscaping is good for both the environment, and why xeriscape isn’t synonymous with the plain sunbaked rocks that might initially come to mind.

In Boulder County, homeowners interested in engaging in water conservation through xeriscaping their yards can look into and sign up for the Garden In A Box program through Resource Central. The program is a great deal, where Resource Central will give you FREE native plants if you dig out your grass. The native plants they provide don’t need much extra water, since Boulder is their natural environment.

Growing plants benefit from fewer fluctuations in temperature, and water efficiency, which is the reasoning behind the ways that plants’ roots grow. Mulch is a great way to help achieve those goals. ChipDrop is a company that connects arborists with gardeners. Local arborists with unwanted mulched trees, can give the mulch to gardeners, who can use it to insulate their yards and gardens. Mulch insulates your yard in two ways – it effectively holds in the water, and it can help protect the roots of growing plants from extreme temperatures. To get mulch from ChipDrop, you can sign up for a load of mulch on their website, and they’ll give you an estimated date of the arrival of a FREE load of mulch and possibly some stumps and logs.

My family and I got two large boxes of free plants for our whole front yard. Now our yard saves us money and stands out in our neighborhood for all its diverse plants. Now, digging out grass can be a little tedious, and you’ll likely break a sweat. Concerned about the work? The first option is to mysteriously come up with an alternative plan for one of your planned excavation days… The better option though, if you’re worried about the work, is to hire Resource Central to send a team to do the digging for you.

By the time you’re considering your New Year’s Resolution for 2023, you could look out your window, and see a low-water, aesthetically pleasing yard that makes you smile, and a water bill that makes your wallet smile.

A Call For Change

With the New Year right around the corner comes the time to give yourself the resolve to enact change. Even on a small scale. In the past year the Fairview Institute has had members who have created change around them, they have lobbied to Joe Neguse’s aid, worked to implement more vegan options on the BVSD Menu, marched for women’s rights, connected with the community spreading awareness on climate change, and have lined up more ideas for what to do next than ever before. However, taking today into consideration it is clearly not enough. Looking outside Coloradoans can see the grey smoky sky, illuminated in the orange light, they can see fires caused by a drought in late December, spreading due to the extreme winds howling at our doors. With this in consideration we need to take a moment to make ourselves a resolution. The Fairview Institute is resolving to make more change and move more people toward change than ever before, and we invite you to join us and we hope you will, because Climate Change is a problem that does not care for party lines or ties, geographical borders, or societal standing, so on the behalf of the Fairview Institute, I ask each and every one of you to take a moment to think about what you can do to make change and progress in your world, then do it. While it is true we need to be the change we wish to see in the world, it is now time to be the change we NEED to see in the world.

Getting our school to move toward climate friendly lunch options

The Institute is focusing on climate change this year. In that vein, we wanted to see where we could have direct impact on climate stabilizing behavior directly within our community. One of the ways to do this is by getting people to make the choice to shift their diets to less meat. In order to facilitate this, we met with the Boulder Valley School District Food Services along with a local purveyor of tempeh, Griffin Giordano, of Project Umami. We’re proposing an ad campaign to inform and highlight the advantages of less meat and more local food in dietary choices. Keep an eye out at your local school for our work. We’ll let you know how it goes.

New Volunteer Opportunities

Donating money isn’t the only way to give to charitable organizations, many of whom rely on volunteers for various services. If you find yourself with free time on your hands on your weekend, or during the week, you could consider putting in some community service. Not only will you help a good cause, but it can also be a way to meet people and learn new skills.

Celebrate Microvolunteering Day

You want to get involved and give back to the community, but can’t fit another big commitment into your busy schedule? Then microvolunteering might just be the thing.

Microvolunteering is a small, bite-sized task or project, that is quick and easy to perform. Best of all there’s a range of things you could do online, in as little as 30 minutes. Donating processing time on your computer, signing an online petition, or promoting a charity on social media are all examples of microvolunteering that you could do today.