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Volunteer Spotlight January 2016- Gary Brown

Gary Brown

Volunteer Since: 2006

Volunteer Roles: Tree Planter, Tree Teacher, Community Liaison, Tree Captain

Biography: In addition to being an active long-term volunteer with ReForest London, Gary is also one of the principle organizers of London’s largest community festival, Gathering on the Green. Gary is active in politics within the City of London, and has run three times for provincial office in London West. In addition to supporting many environmental and community groups, Gary currently serves as a board member on the Old South Community Organization, sits on the Coves ESA implementation committee, and is the former vice chair of the Cycling Advisory Committee.

About ten years ago, Gary’s passion for environmental causes met with ReForest London’s ‘infectious enthusiasm”, which inspired him to come out to the next planting. Gary recalls that it was a huge planting, with over 100 volunteers, ‘It was amazing to meet all the volunteers and see a patch of London transformed into a miniature forest. I was hooked and have been planting trees and meeting excellent people ever since”.

Since his first planting, Gary has become a Tree Teacher and Tree Captain. He enjoys giving presentations, especially when he has the opportunity to teach children.  He is also a great asset at seedling giveaways and tree sales where Gary enjoys helping Londoners choose a tree to plant and care for.

Reasons for Volunteering:
“It has been really special to see ReForest London grow from a small start to being London’s flagship environmental organization. Today with the Million Tree Challenge and the excellent staff at ReForest London, it is truly my privilege to be involved. I have met so many amazing people over the last 10 years and have seen many pockets of London reforested. I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years brings.”

Additionally, Gary enjoys planting trees because of the “instant gratification of actually seeing a forest planted in a morning or afternoon. I spend so much time advocating and talking about environmental issues that to actually plant trees and see the difference it makes me feel like I am actually making a difference-- not just talking about it.”

Why do you think it is important for all Londoners to be involved?

“I encourage families to come out tree planting. Bring the kids and let them have fun planting trees. It’s a lot of fun and in today’s modern world where kids are driven from point A to B and back again it gives them time to play and reconnect with nature. Even more importantly, I think it eases anxiety about the environment because they are taking an active role in replanting the world they will grow up in. Several years ago, I was researching a speech and noticed an Australian event called ‘National Be a Hero to Your Child’ day.  While researching deeper, I discovered many papers about the causes of stress in young children. A common finding in the research was that children have anxiety and worry about the planet and whether it will be fit for them to live on when they grow up. I found this very sad. Children should be exploring their world and playing in it, not worrying about the future. London needs to live up to the mantle of the Forest City"

"I challenge all Londoners to be Heroes. Lets meet the Million Tree Challenge and put the Forest back in the Forest City!"

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Want to find out how to get involved with ReForest London? Passionate about trees in your neighbourhood? Click here to view descriptions of our current volunteer opportunities and sign up, or contact our Community Engagment Coordinator at volunteer@reforestlondon.ca or 519-936-9548 ext 222 for more information.