80 students from 13 Seattle area schools attended the first Plant-For-The-Planet Academy in the Western US on Friday May 24th at Golden Gardens Park. The Seattle Parks Dept and the Mayor’s office donated the use of the beautiful historic Bathhouse event space for the day, free of charge. Surrounded by beach, forest, wetlands, and a new playground, even our breaks were a wonderful adventure. Located at the foot of a long bluff on Puget Sound, Golden Gardens is flat and low, one of the first places in this mountainous region that will be lost to rising sea levels during the children’s lifetimes.
NBBJ provided snacks, 3by3 provided dry erase boards made of bamboo, Theo Chocolates donated some delicious Organic Fair Trade chocolate bars for the day, and Hamilton International Middle School provided maps for the World Game.
Lou Stubecki, an arborist from the City of Seattle came out to describe tree physiology, talk about planting and caring for trees, and why now is not a good time to plant as we have entered a long dry season here. We made plans with Seattle Parks Dept. to create a much larger tree-planting event in Fall when the rains return.
The Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith came to hear 5 brave students – Norah, Gabie, Nicky, Stella, and Zoe -- deliver the morning slideshow presentation. He said the slideshow was the best he had seen on climate change. The Deputy Mayor commented on the coal trains that roll past Golden Gardens every day on their way to ports where they ship the coal to Asia for burning even though we don’t burn coal in Seattle anymore, and how the Mayor is working hard to stop the coal trains, and how the Seattle Climate Action Plan is under consideration now at City Hall. He had so much to say. But then he posed for a “Stop Talking. Start Planting.” photo.
Our T-shirts, delayed in customs for weeks, finally arrived one day before the Academy. 2 adult volunteers had to cancel on the day of the event. And yet, everything ran smoothly and right on time. When the computer shut down abruptly in the middle of the afternoon slideshow, Molly began making up a short talk, saying, “You need to see this. This is important. We’re fighting for our future.” And the audience gave her enthusiastic support.
Many students promised to make presentations at their schools soon before the year ends in June. Others plan to write letters to our Governor Jay Inslee, who is busy studying the very first carbon tax proposal for Washington State right now.
At City Hall, the Mayor and City Council would like to invite our new Ambassadors to brief the Energy and Environment Committee in July. And today someone from Island County asked about organizing an Academy for the San Juan Islands when school begins.
Let’s all support these new Ambassadors, who have their work cut out, spreading the word about the crisis and the solution, both in Seattle and nationwide, getting support for their global plan, and getting governments, companies, and families to plant more trees right away!