Purple Goes Green Coast To Coast
This spring it has been my privilege to help organize urban conservation projects for FedEx volunteers in Boston, MA and Orange County, CA. The actual service projects and their geographic locations couldn’t have been more different, but the commitment and spirit of our FedEx volunteers was exactly the same on both coasts.
The Boston project on April 27th in the city’s Mattapan area had over 40 FedEx team members transforming the city’s newly acquired “urban wild” Mattahunt Woods from a site of illegal dumping to an urban oasis for the public to enjoy. We coordinated the project with the Student Conservation Association and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Some people describe Mattapan as a forgotten area of Boston. Compared to other neighborhoods in the city, it has the highest overcrowding rate, the fewest jobs, the lowest amount of open public space per capita and over half of the residents are immigrants who speak English as a second language. Even though Mattapan has its share of challenges, it also has a great deal of promise for the future. Over 33% of the residents are under 18 years old and the City is gradually acquiring more green spaces like Mattahunt Woods. And in just one day, FedEx volunteers cleaned up the woods and cleared trails which will allow the Woods to be used as an outdoor science classroom for the students of nearby Mattahunt Elementary School.
Across the country in Southern California on May 20th, almost 40 FedEx volunteers joined forces with Bolsa Chica Conservancy and students from the Orange County Conservation Corps (OCCC) to help restore upland habitat on the northern edge of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. From the start, this project had major perks…the project site is right across the street from the Pacific Ocean in the town of Huntington Beach, which is internationally known as “Surf City”. It’s the quintessential Southern California town and is proud to be one of the 20 safest U.S. cities. S’mores were even created here! However, the project went deeper than just allowing us to work outside in a beautiful nature reserve on a gorgeous SoCal day, it also allowed us to work with youth from the Orange County Conservation Corps, an organization that provides education and on-the-job training to at-risk youth. Many of these young people had lived their entire lives 25 miles from the ocean but had never seen the beach. It was great to work alongside them. And it was definitely a winning combination for Bolsa Chica. During the service project, the teams removed more than FIVE TONS of trash, debris and four species of noxious, invasive plants from the ecological reserve. Wow!
I expected to learn that the environmental needs and attitudes were vastly different for these two opposite corners of the country. However, I found that both areas actually have quite similar environmental needs…improve air and water quality, monitor local waste disposal, clean up polluted properties and promote recycling. I also found that the FedEx volunteers in both locations were quick to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This was not a surprise to me though. I’ve yet to encounter a group of FedEx team members that fail to rise to the challenge of pitching in when there is a good cause and work to be done.