To us, Tree Heroes are people who are doing incredible work to give back to nature and the world around us through planting trees and greening our world. Greenpop is one such organisation doing exactly that. We have been working with Greenpop since their first planting in 2010, providing 1000 trees at a discounted rate and today we continue to supply trees to their Urban Greening Programme and it has been such an honour to work with them.
But what does Greenpop do exactly? As their website puts it simply: We collaborate with passionate individuals and organizations with years of experience to plant trees, grow gardens and educate for action across Southern Africa. We sat down with Lauren O’Donnel, Managing Director of Greenpop and asked her a few questions…
Your website tells the story behind how Greenpop started, but was there a moment or series of thoughts that led you to want to work specifically with trees as a way to make a difference in the world?
Yes – Misha and his friend Rowan Pybus had just returned from a trip making a documentary film where they had to travel to 12 countries in 4 months. They wanted to do something about their travel footprint and came up with the idea to plant 1000 trees in 1 month (Sept 2010) – we loved trees! Misha brought various friends together and each of us had a role to play in the one month campaign. There were about 10 of us involved in that initial month. Because I had a background in writing and media, I wrote press releases about what we were doing, started a facebook page, called radio stations etc and tried to gather interest in what we were doing. So I started mainly as the writer and media liaison and of course, I planted a lot of trees too. But we all did a bit of everything. Since I was freelancing and some other friends had full-time jobs, I was able to get more involved in planning the plant days, researching, scouting planting sites etc. All the lessons we learned in the first month, helped us realise the huge need for trees and deepened our love for trees.
Did your previous work involve planting trees? How did you go about educating yourself in the tree-planting industry?
No. I was a freelance writer and Misha was freelancing in the media industry and events. So we didn’t have a tree background… just a huge passion for trees, forests and a green lifestyle. We had a great friend from Urban Harvest (Ben Getz) who taught us a lot about planting trees initially and since then, we have worked with amazing team members who have taught us what we now know.
What is the most rewarding part about your work?
Seeing people’s joy when they plant their first tree. It’s incredible to see people connect with nature and all the joy it brings. It’s also amazing how people are so naturally drawn to planting trees – I think it’s in our nature 🙂 and when people plant a tree they remember something very special about their own nature.
Who inspires you? Can you share some of your own ‘Tree Heroes’ with us?
Carl from Just Trees inspires us 😉 He is a big tree hero! Ben Getz from Urban Harvest inspires us – he taught us how to plant our first tree and he plants amazing veg gardens. Wangari Mathaai is an incredible tree hero and role model to us.
What do you envision for the future of Green Pop?
We would like to empower millions of people to plant trees – to allow then to feel the joy it brings, to highlight the social, environmental and economic benefits of trees for people and to allow people to (re)connect with the planet and remember that we need to be custodians of the planet as we only have one home.