Earth Day marked with “Trees Are Treasures” event

“Without a healthy planet, none of our broader progressive goals can be achieved. We see our “Trees are Treasures” event as a way to educate people about important environmental issues, to highlight the many actions taken by GCM…and perhaps encourage people to join us in our political activism and social justice work.”

Regina Edmonds, Founder, Grassroots Central Mass

by Patricia O’Connor

Something for everyone.

The Climate Change Committee of Grassroots Central Mass held its fourth annual “Trees are Treasures” Earth Day event on April 20, 2024 at Wells State Park in Sturbridge. We thought about what might appeal to families, dog walkers and others who might typically take a Saturday morning stroll through the trails of the State Park. We sought to repeat and improve on past events, and add whatever we thought would round it out. Here are some of the highlights: 

  • Bob the Reformed Lumberjack, played by Eric von Bleicken, spoke with a French accent while reading “The Great Kapok Tree” and educating about the importance of tree conservation. 
  • Lady of the Wetlands, played by Maureen Doyle, pointed out invasive plant species and related the fascinating activities of beavers.
  • Sherry the Elf, played by Sherry Zitter, stood along the trail singing and playing on her guitar. She sang songs about the environment, including her own composition, “Earth Day”.
  • The Stone Wall Guy, Richard Paradise, Ranger at the park, gave informational presentations about the history and function of New England stone walls.

At the tree sapling and wildflower bomb giveaway table, Nancy Tame, Sue Jordan, and Janet Carson provided information about planting and caring for the trees The wildflower bombs were made and distributed by Elicia Andrews

Regina Edmonds and Karen Nothe-Valley supported kids with their arts and crafts projects, including gourd birdhouses, and paper butterflies. Patricia O’Connor painted rainbows, butterflies, and suns (and one brown dog) on the faces of many kids–and one adult!

Three young AmeriCorps volunteers from Old Sturbridge Village discussed the 1820s and 1830s farming methods used at OSV. They talked about the challenges of farming during that period. They also set up period lawn games for kids to play, and handed out bookmarks with wildflower seeds on them to plant.

Collaborating to GROW a successful event.

The event was sponsored by Grassroots Central Mass with direct assistance from members of Brookfields Fight Fear, another local grassroots organization serving Central and West-Central Mass. We received financial support from Indivisible National through a GROW grant for the event. We advertised in local papers, on organizational facebook pages and websites, in IMC’s newsletter, and posted flyers in public places. Our success was enhanced by frequent planning meetings, and we always hold a post mortem after the event. We encourage other local Progressive groups to hold Earth Day events in their communities next year.

Patricia O’Connor, a former Board Member of IMC, is on the Recruitment and Engagement Committee of IMC, on the Steering Committees of Brookfields Fight Fear and Grassroots Central Mass, and is Chair of the Oakham Democratic Town Committee.