The Community of Work Parties

These photos all contain several people in them, and the people are all volunteers. I will not identify each volunteer because that is not the point of my collection. Each photo captures people doing work, or having just finished working, in Seattle Urban Forests. The volunteers are usually following the guidance of a Forest Steward and always doing good work. I have been so impressed, over my three years of Carkeek and North Beach Park volunteering, with the enthusiasm of forest volunteers, both experienced and novice. Look at their faces; they are all proud of their participation and of their sweat equity!

Seattle Urban Forest volunteers tend to not expect to be singled out for applause or praise. They are either showing their children about volunteering for a good cause, or learning about forest work, or participating altruistically. Some of these people are quite expert, with experience and degrees in specialties like Botany, Wetlands definition, or Forestry. The group usually looks to these individuals for leadership and they usually are adept at fulfilling the role. Others are interested in learning techniques, applying new methods, and sometimes creating new techniques to conquer obstacles. Most volunteers appreciate the forest beauty around them, and sometimes capture the ambience in photos or in memories.

Some of the groups are large and some more intimate, reflecting the different experiences in each kind of work party. Small groups allow friends to join together, talk and laugh, and to get work done. Large groups require using leadership skills, meeting brand new volunteers, directing or being directed to a project, and participating according to the protocol. The large groups accomplish huge amounts of forest work; the small groups also complete surprisingly large, but less so, amounts of work. The smaller groups share a certain kind of camaraderie that grows from the respect we hold for each other and appreciation we feel for our contributions. All groups seem to be aware they are doing important work in the forests.

As many of us have articulated during or after our excursions, we are more than volunteers; we have become friends with a common goal. We know we are making a mark in the urban forests around us, preserving the forests for our descendants.  

Drexie Malone, Forest Steward