A team of over 100 energized and enthusiastic volunteers recently descended on a vacant lot in the South Bronx to embark on Timberland's United We Stand Garden restoration project. This effort to transform the space in the Mott Haven neighborhood kicks off Timberland’s ambitious five-year goal to double its footprint in five cities -- but not in the way you might expect. Each year Timberland will choose a different city and create or restore an urban green space that matches or exceeds the square footage of its retail presence in that community.
To launch the campaign, Timberland partnered with GrowNYC, a non-profit improving local quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean, healthy environment for future generations. GrowNYC introduced Timberland to the United We Stand garden - a 32,000 sq. ft. space in need of revamping due to years of neglect. The empty lot between 137th and 138th Street was once made up of four separate community gardens that were destroyed by a fire about two years ago. Over the course of the summer, GrowNYC, in partnership with the community and various corporate partners such as Timberland, will create one large community garden along with seating and other features that invite the community to enjoy its new shared green space.
"It was amazing to be a part of this event to launch Timberland's commitment to urban greening," said Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement and communication for Timberland. "We were a diverse and united team of volunteers that included employees, wholesale accounts, licensing partners, material suppliers, and friends. It was a powerful experience to serve in the presence of so many of our partners who share our desire to make it better in the communities where we live, work and explore."
Green spaces provide many benefits to urban communities. They serve as growing and gathering spaces and improve the overall wellbeing of the community over time. At the service event the volunteers constructed 30 vegetable beds, built and painted 8 picnic tables, painted and relocated a storage shed, defined a new pathway for exploring the space, and built a "boot print" flower bed as a physical reminder of the positive footprint the team had left in the space.
Timberland volunteers will return to the United We Stand garden in September for a finishing touches service event and help to officially open the garden to the public. "I can't wait to see the finished space," said Colleen Vien, Timberland’s director of sustainability. "We made huge strides today in terms of building the beds but nothing will compare to seeing them green and growing and laden with the late summer harvest."