If you were driving down Chancellor Boulevard early Saturday morning on October 14, you may have been lucky enough to see the sight of a young woman in a high vis vest, jumping ecstatically up and down to an audience who cheered her on, shouting: “IT’S THE ALIEN INVADERS!”
This fabulous sight was the Program Coordinator, Krista Voth, who was about to lead a group of volunteers into Pacific Spirit Park to get their hands dirty. The day was dedicated to the Eco Blitz Urban Tree Planting, a project kindly funded by the Pacific Parklands Foundation George Ross Legacy Fund and the Vancouver Park Board. The aim: plant over 2,000 native trees and shrubs.
Western Red Cedar, Vine Maple, Western Hemlock and Pacific Crab Apple… the potted plants clustered at the opening of the Park trail, just like we did, bracing against the harsh cold of the autumn morning. Krista and her team welcomed new and regular volunteers: signing up, gloving up, jostling and joking, gossiping and laughing. They listened intently as Krista finished her live Twitter feeds and lively performance, and got serious to give a thorough run down on the day: planting distance, techniques, be careful not to trip, please don’t poke your eye out. Then we all got our wheelbarrows and spread out, following the assigned flags like coloured breadcrumbs to the belly of the forest.
There was a lovely gentle feeling of community as everyone quickly got to work. The soil was loose and dry underneath the thick soggy mulch, the plants slipping into their new homes easily. Conversation flowed through the trees as bodies began to warm from the labor. As a first-time volunteer for the Society I was grateful to be spending my weekend in this place. I always love being in the Park: the woodland makes me feel something there are no words for. I noticed every single person wore a smile. Any drizzle from the skies was caught in the canopy and we all hoped for a late heavy shower to settle in the new occupants.
So by now you’re probably thinking: will she ever get back to the aliens? What was that all about? Well, to put it simply: Krista had been reenacting a promotional video she had recently seen, which creatively tried to address invasive species by dressing up their staff in alien costumes and having them pop out of shrubs. The concept was great, but the message could easily be lost. I could see Krista’s message to us for the day, on behalf of the Society, was one that was perfectly executed, when she presented a club sized sponge cake, the words in thick glossy icing: thank you.
Some stats: Over three events like the one described above, 106 volunteers came out and planted a total of 1,837 plants! Amazingly, this converts to 563 volunteer hours gifted generously to the Park.
Written by Ruby Ewens