by Brad Lancaster & the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Foresters
These are events that occur when someone in neighborhood spots a need, like a tree next to a pedestrian path needing pruning or a traffic circle needing weeding; or an opportunity, like a harvest of ripe mesquite pods before the summer rains, or planting coyote gourd seed in stormwater-harvesting basins just as the monsoon rainy season begins. And that neighbor either wants some help and/or wants to help give others the experience and tips to up their capacity. The neighbor wanting to make the event happen first talks to another neighbor or two, living close to where the desired work is to happen, to see if they’d be willing to help for an hour or two. If so, they set the date, time, place, and project for the Work & Learn party—and as long as there is at least one Level One (Home & Public Right-of-Way) or higher level Neighborhood Forester committing to be there—then we put out the word on the neighbohood’s Foresters email list (easy to set up a group contact list and group emails on gmail and other email platforms).
The stewarding party could occur as soon as the day after it is planned, or later to give more folks notice. But it will always occur within a week OR LESS from the party’s announcement.
What is key is that you know there will be at least two people at the event—you confirm that before we put the word out to the larger neighborhood contact list.
So, you’re not alone. You’ve got help. Even if no one else is able to participate.
But typically others do come out—especially those who live closer to the work or those wanting to learn how to better do the work (we bring extra tools for those who may need them).
This also enables neighbors to better get to know one another. Other neighbors come out and ask about the work, and we get to converse with them too, as well as educate them about, and invite them to join, the Neighborhood’s Foresters group.
These stewarding parties are also much more informal than a workshop.
A Work & Learn stewarding party can include one or all of the following:
• Planting by seed, transplants, cuttings, or nursery stock
• Plant identification
• Plant purchases and delivery
• Pruning and mulching
• Making pedestrian paths more accessible
• Water harvesting
• Graffiti abatement