Monday, July 16, 2007

36 Flame Trees Planted in Koblerville

Koblerville SaipanBeautify CNMI has several long term goals. We want to promote Ecotourism in the CNMI (there is currently no Ecotourism here), we want to restore and promote many of our historical landmarks (i.e. the Japanese Jail and the Lighthouse) as tourist/historical sites, we want to reduce illegal dumping and littering, and we want to create an interconnected system of parks and trails.

One of those parks is going to be located on top of the old airstrip in Koblerville, currently the site of the Koberville Youth Center and Substation.

We started work on this project last year. We took an overgrown old abandoned airstrip littered with trash and grafitti and simply started cleaning.

We mowed the grass. We got rid of the weeds. We painted over the grafitti.

We've kept this up for almost a year.

Last month, with the involvement of several government entities, we helped open up the Koblerville Youth Center. For almost a month now, we've participated in Family Fun Night, held at the Youth Center every Friday night for the residents of Koblerville.

Little by little, we are getting people to use the park and we are continuously improving it.

Flame TreesYesterday morning we planted 36 Flame Trees along the street. They are small now, but in a year they will be over 10 feet tall. In three years they will be tall enough to provide shade.

About six months ago I asked one of the Mariana Island Nature Alliance members, Brad Doerr, to start growing Flame Trees. I told him that I didn't have money to pay him then, but by the time they were tall enough to plant, I would.

I came up with an Adopt-a-Flame tree program. For $20 via cash, check or paypal, anyone in the world could purchase a Flame Tree. I promised the adoptee a certificate and a picture of their tree posted on the Internet along with the GPS coordinates of their tree.

I use the money to purchase the trees, soil, flagging tape, shovels, and whatever else we need to get the trees planted. Then I recruit volunteers to help me plant the trees and invite the people who adopted the trees to tag along.

Yesterday I had help from Ken Kramer, his mom, his wife and two kids, Missy and Jim Highfill and their kid, Rep. Cinta Kaipat, Gus Kaipat and his 30-40 nephews, Marites Castillo and the Friends of the Mariana Islands, Captain Carl and his two shipmates, Neta and Flurina, Brad Doerr, and Laura Williams and her son Caleb.

All it took for us to get these 36 trees planted were 26 tree planting volunteers (including myself), a little pre-planning on my part to ensure that we would have Flame Trees to plant during the rainy season (coordinating with Brad), and 36 generous donors to spend $20 to adopt a Flame Tree. In getting the trees adopted, we also had help from everyone who helped us man our booth at the Flame Tree Arts Festival back in April and MINA, which takes care of Beautify CNMI's finances.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that planting these 36 trees was a community effort. Probably well over 100 people had a hand in coordinating the planting, from making sure that we had trees, shovels, soil, finances, water, snacks for volunteers, to getting people to adopt the trees, to actually planting the trees, and so on and so on.

Thanks to every single one of you who helped out. These 36 trees are a significant contribution to the community of Koblerville. In 5 years, we'll all be able to say that we had a hand in providing shade, beauty, and cooler temperatures to the residents of Koblerville.

One last thing, Cinta told me to get in the group picture, so I did this:

Angelo Villagomez

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