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People, Places & Parks Thought Leader Uncategorized

Celebrating A Culture of Collaboration & Earth Month

By John Ahern, Park Pride’s Volunteer Manager

Every spring, I am reminded of what a wonderful city Atlanta is. Not just because we’re the “city in the trees” and the redbuds, dogwoods and magnolias add color and flair to our everyday lives. Atlanta is an amazing city because of its culture of partnerships and collaboration for the sake of doing good.

John Ahern, Park Pride's Volunteer Manager, carries an erosion-control wattle.

John Ahern, Park Pride’s Volunteer Manager, carries an erosion-control wattle.

This culture wasn’t obvious to me until I began working at Park Pride six years ago as the Volunteer Manager and had the chance to meet and work with communities, businesses and other nonprofit organizations all over the City. Each year, approximately 8,000 hours of volunteer service are conducted by communities in parks; corporations donate another 7,000 hours of service. And that’s only through Park Pride! Imagine how that number grows when you incorporate the number of hours donated through other park conservancies, Trees Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and all other green organizations! I regularly tout that I have the best job in town and it is precisely this culture of service that greatly contributes to job satisfaction.

This idea of doing good with and for others is most obvious every spring as our greenspaces come back to life, as we celebrate Earth Month, and as people are drawn outside to give back to their city. Earth Day, you may have noticed, has become Earth Month due to the inundation of volunteer project requests from groups looking to get out into a park and make a difference. My workload triples this time of year and I couldn’t be happier because it means that so many people and organizations want to make a positive investment in our community. They recognize that parks are the places where people come to relax and rejuvenate, to play, and to be together; by taking care of our greenspaces, volunteers are contributing to the health and happiness of everyone who visits that park.

Vine City Park volunteer plants an Oakleaf Hydrangea on a recent workday.

Vine City Park volunteer plants an Oakleaf Hydrangea on a recent workday.

EarthShare of Georgia does its part to nurture Atlanta’s culture of collaboration by organizing one of the best service events of the year, connecting corporate volunteer teams with environmental nonprofit organizations like Park Pride in a competitive (yet friendly) day of service called the Corporate Green Day Challenge (CGDC). Connecting businesses with nonprofits is a win-win situation where businesses are given the opportunity to connect to the community and nonprofits are given the resources to execute amazing projects. For example, this year Kaiser Permanente partnered with Park Pride at Chapel Hill Park, a DeKalb County park, to build an outdoor classroom, clean up over 25 bags of trash from the lake, install 900 linear feet of wattles to slow down erosion and plant a native pollinator garden, all in only three hours! This project was transformational for the park, and in the end, Kaiser was chosen as the Corporate Green Day Challenge winner at EarthShare’s Leadership Breakfast on Thursday, April 14!

Kaiser Permanente volunteers build a park bench during the Corporate Green Day Challenge workday at Chapel Hill Park.

Kaiser Permanente volunteers build a park bench during the Corporate Green Day Challenge workday at Chapel Hill Park.

Out of the more than two dozen volunteer workdays Park Pride is hosting this month, I am most excited about our workday on April 23rd at Chosewood Park in partnership with Whole Foods Market, Trees Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Community Bucket and the Friends of Chosewood Park. If three is a crowd then five is a party, and I have no doubt that we will have an amazing time! Park Pride could never achieve our mission without support from amazing groups like these. If you haven’t signed up for a project this Earth Month, and you’d like to tap into the culture of collaboration that is so ingrained in the culture of our city itself, I invite you to join us at Chosewood Park. Registration is available through Trees Atlanta, and more information about Park Pride’s Volunteer Program can be found on our website.

Happy Earth Month, Atlanta!

P.S. – If you’re interested in learning more about Atlanta’s culture of collaboration in a less strenuous setting, I invite you to EarthShare’s 21st Annual Earth Day Party, this Thursday, April 21, from 7-10PM on the rooftop of Ponce City Market! Park Pride will be there, along with several of our nonprofit and corporate partners – I hope to meet you there!

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