Harold Whitman once said ďDonít ask yourself what the world
needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because
what the world needs are people who have come alive.Ē
For 34 of us here in Indonesia I believe we have come alive
these past 10 days. It has been an incredible journey of hope, giving, sharing,
learning, service, hard work, conquering fears, meeting new friends,
strengthening existing friendships, building belief, creating memories, trying
new things, sweating more than we thought possible, getting a few scratches,
rashes, bites or more, enjoying the sun, and exploring the world. We have so
many stories to share when we come home and we look forward to telling you all
We have once again learned that in giving we are the ones
who are blessed. We brought trees, water and light to the sweet people of West
Java in Indonesia. We worked with incredible partners who helped us understand
the local needs and local people. And yet, despite our attempt at selflessness,
we have again learned more, experienced more, gained more and grown more as
people than we ever could have without coming here and experiencing this.
Stay tuned for all our stories and adventures. For now,
enjoy two sneak peeks of the journey:
First, this was the day before the group arrived. Hannah and I had
an opportunity to visit a local kindergarten in Lido where a local housewife
has started a beautiful school focused on all the usual kindergarten curriculum
in addition to teaching English and teaching planting, sustainability and
horticulture! It was a chance meeting around the world and one that led to a
beautiful morning. Enjoy!
Next, once the group arrived, it was time for some adventure. The
national parks we would be working in for the next three days are in the middle
of some gorgeous rainforests, high above the villages and the only way to get
there is via Jeep on a road that most would call less-than-smooth. It was a
bumpy and sometimes scary ride to be sure. But what in life that is worth experiencing
is easy? Not much. Enjoy!
The rest of the journey was equally adventurous and equally
inspiring. We canít wait to share more with you. But now, itís time to get back
Cami Boehme, Generation V.
** Jenine Tankoos, Viridian Director and Associate Sustainability Task Force leader takes steps to increasing habitat for monarch butterflies. Find out how you too can help this endangered species. **
Monarch butterflies travel as far as 2,800 miles to Mexico where they spend their winters. Given their size, that is like a person walking around Earth 11 times! This magnificent migration is threatened with extinction due to habitat loss.
Development has been consuming habitat at a rate of 6,000 acres per day in the United States. This development coupled with the widespread use of herbicides instead of tilling to control weeds has destroyed 80 million acres of monarch habitat.
These unique butterflies will lay their eggs solely on milkweed plants, which caterpillars require as their only food source. By planting a monarch way station that includes milkweed plants, as well as nectar sources for butterflies, you can help play a role in the effort to save the monarch migration!
Viridian Director Sue Schoenfeld works with the Monarch Teacher Network to educate citizens about monarchs and help create monarch way stations. I had the good fortune of meeting Sue when a mutual friend brought her to a meeting of the Manalapan Environmental Commission in New Jersey, which I chair. Sue soon became a commissioner herself and taught the rest of us about the importance of creating monarch habitat and we began planning our very own monarch way station.
Once the garden was planned out, I asked Viridian if it would partner with the Manalapan Environmental Commission on this important sustainability initiative. Viridian graciously provided the plants needed for the garden and was eager to help others learn about the importance of increasing monarch habitat.
On Saturday, June 8, 15 people gathered to plant the garden at the Manalapan Township Recreation Center. It was an extremely rewarding opportunity for those involved. What was once lawn is now a beautiful butterfly habitat that serves as a model for visitors to enjoy and learn from. Manalapan Township has a sign shop that we worked with to make a permanent educational sign for the garden as well as a sign thanking Viridian for donating plants. If you are in the area, be sure to visit this garden.
We used the following plants in our garden: Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Purple Cone Flower, Black Eyed Susan, Hyssop, Bee Balm and Sedum. There are many different varieties of milkweed and the right one for your garden depends on where you live. The most popular and easiest varieties to grow in the Northeast U.S. are Swamp Milkweed (a perennial) and Tropical Milkweed (an annual in most of the U.S.).
Everyone can help monarch butterflies by planting milkweed for the caterpillars and other nectar plants for the adult butterflies. These can be planted in a home garden or in flowerpots on a balcony. For more information and a list of plants, visit www.MonarchWatch.org.
If you would like to plant a garden as a sustainability event, here are some steps you may wish to follow:
1) Select a site and get permission to plant the
garden in that location.
2) Plan the garden: Decide the size and shape as well
as what plants you will include.
3) Find sources and funding for all the items you will
Water source for
plants on planting day and for maintenance
A border for the
garden such as a flexible black material (optional)
4) If you are creating an educational sign, design the
content or purchase a sign from MonarchWatch.org. I can provide a jpg file of
the sign we created.
5) Choose a date and time to plant.
6) Invite others to participate on planting day.
7) Ask participants to bring work gloves, shovels,
trowels, sod lifter (helpful, but a flat shovel can be used) and buckets for
moving mulch. Also remind them to
wear sunscreen if necessary and to bring a drink in a reusable container.
8) Make sure you know who is assigned to bring the
plants and deliver the mulch for planting day.
9) Remember to take both before and after photos and
share your story!
My heart is full. I am so grateful for Viridian and for each of you, our dedicated Associates. You inspire me daily. In the midst of so much activity, growth, growing pains, migration, transition and more, I am reminded of why we all do what we do. I want to share this incredible letter
of gratitude we received from World Joy, our partner in Ghana, but also I want to take an opportunity to share some of my recent thoughts about our opportunity and our purpose as Generation V.
Iíve learned in the past couple of months that you cannot give selflessly. Itís true. Iíve always believed that giving was somehow a selfless act Ė finding something within yourself (time, talent, money, gifts, or simply love) that you could give away to someone else, benefitting their life far more than your own. Iíve come to learn this is simply not true. In return for anything I have ever given, I seem to have gained far more than I ever gave. Sometimes this has come in the form of newfound friendship, sometimes in a smile of gratitude, sometimes in a life lesson I could never have learned any other way, sometimes in a fond memory that I will always cherish.
Viridian has given me, given all of us, an extraordinary opportunity to learn this phenomenon firsthand. As a dedicated group of change agents, we are constantly giving Ė locally we give service to our communities and neighborhoods, globally we give the gift of trees or power or education to burgeoning communities, and on a direct level, many of you give of your time and talents to others as mentors, coaches and guides. We are a community that shares, inspires, uplifts and creates positive change in the world.
It was with this realization that I had the honor to take the stage recently for World Joyís annual fundraising gala. I was addressing a packed room of business leaders and icons Ė those at the helm of major corporations who had come to support World Joy and to hear about how one company (Viridian) has had an incredible impact on the people in Ghana. I chose to speak candidly and from the heart about why we give. About why companies should step back and consider not only the impact their choices have to their bottom line, but the impact their choices have to the world. I shared with them our incredible journey in Africa and what we were able to give to the people there.
But mostly I shared with them what we learned and what we received. Here is a bit of what I shared:
We learned about hard work. Watching the people in Ghana in their daily lives we saw what it means to work hard every day simply to ensure your family has the basics.
We learned about passion. In these rural communities, children are still inspired by the very simple things in life, music and dance can fill an afternoon, and there is a true spirit of passion for all that the future may hold.
We learned about love. Without worries of crime or distrust, the community raises itself, with children helping children and a spirit of complete acceptance of the unknown.
We learned about (and received) hope. The children of Ghana are in many ways so very different from children anywhere else in the world. They donít have Nintendo, movies, the Internet or high-tech classrooms. But in most ways, they are exactly like children everywhere in the world. They love to learn. They are curious. They cherish play. They want to be something special, important and exciting when they grow up. They are inspired and inspirational.
I ended with my closing thoughts: itís not about what you do; itís about why you do it.
We push for change in the world because we can and because we must. We work everyday to make a difference because it is our unique opportunity in the world. And the beauty of it is that our efforts, however small, have returned a world of wonder, gratitude, growth and prosperity back to us. Even more importantly, they have created a ripple effect of change among the people in Ghana.
Read this letter from Regina Klitgaard, Executive Director of World Joy, to learn a little more of the profound influence our community has had on theirs. Iím sure that you, like me, will be grateful, proud and inspired. And Iím sure that like me, youíll realize that although we continue to give, we also continue to receive much more than we ever thought we could.
With a full heart and gratitude for Generation V,