As autumn approaches, SOUL is gearing up for tree-planting season. Like most things, this year’s season will look a little different as we develop new plans to center the safety of our volunteers and remotely engage residents in our education series. Amidst these changes, we are excited to provide safe and meaningful outdoor volunteer experiences for our community as we all come together to restore our urban forest.
To reach our goal of planting 1,500 native, water-loving trees across New Orleans in the 2020-2021 planting season, the hard work of our dedicated corps of volunteers will be as critical as ever.
Here are the precautions we are outlining for the upcoming season:
Change in Saturday Basecamp Operations
During Saturday planting days in past seasons, SOUL designated a “basecamp” where volunteers gathered to receive instructions before going to their assigned tree planting locations. To comply with the City’s Phase 2 guidelines for safe reopening, we will change our basecamp procedures to ensure that we do not congregate in a large group. These changes will look like:
Skipping Large Gatherings and Breakfast & Lunch
We’re sad that we won’t get to show our appreciation for volunteers with coffee and lunch (and celebratory beer!) on planting days. But to keep everyone safe, we are going to skip large gatherings before and after plantings and avoid handling food and drink this year. We ask volunteers to bring your own water bottles and whatever snacks you need to sustain your energy throughout the day.
SOUL team members will staff check-in tables and provide you with your tools and planting locations for the day. After you finish planting your trees, you will return your tools at basecamp and check out. We will mark the ground at six-foot intervals and require volunteers to remain distanced while in line.
Advance Tree-Planting Instructions
To decrease the need for volunteers to gather in large groups, SOUL will provide tree-planting instructions through an instructional video (stay tuned for a link!). We ask that volunteers spend a few minutes in advance of planting days to review the video. Of course, SOUL staff will be nearby during plantings in case anyone needs help or has questions!
More Frequent Volunteer Days
In addition to our Saturday plantings, we will also organize more frequent, smaller volunteer opportunities throughout the week. This will both help us to reach our tree-planting goal while also providing ways for volunteers who are not available on Saturday mornings to get involved. If your workplace, community organization, family, or group of friends would like to coordinate a special volunteer day, please reach out to Jamie Broussard at email@example.com.
Smaller Volunteer “Pods”
In addition to our regular volunteer signup process for individuals, we are also encouraging folks to sign up to work together as volunteer “pods.” Ideal volunteer pods are groups of 2-10 people and can be family members, housemates, or friends who feel comfortable working in close proximity to one another. Pods can volunteer together on one day or several days, and group members do not have to remain consistent.
You can sign up your volunteer pod for a specific volunteer day, or you can register your pod if you would like to be contacted when small-group volunteer opportunities arise. Register your SOUL volunteer pod here.
You may also continue to sign up as an individual volunteer! We will ensure the safety of all volunteers through proper sanitation procedures and PPE. We want to provide you with multiple options to get out and safely volunteer.
SOUL will diligently sanitize all gloves and tools between planting days. We will supply hand sanitizer and provide masks at our check-in stations for anyone who needs one.
We can’t wait to see you—masks and all! Sign up for volunteer days here! Check back periodically, as we will add more volunteer dates soon.