On Saturday, April 9th, students from buildOn’s afterschool service program planted over 140 trees in the University District area of Detroit, Michigan. Working with foresters from The Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit devoted to abetting and inspiring the reforestation of the city, students dug, planted, watered, and mulched across 12 city blocks in addition to learning how to spot infections in aging trees. This project engaged over 150 local high schoolers.
After the project, the students were asked to connect the reforestation of Detroit to the greater goal of rebuilding the city socially. This objective was conceptualized visually as a buildOn tree with “branches” representing responsibility, compassion, inspiration, and empowerment. All the students came to the front of the room and placed their thumbprint on the buildOn tree, linking their efforts with those of the illiterate villagers that fingerprint buildOn’s school building covenant in developing countries.
In a city like Detroit, greenery is considered precious, and the students took pride in the ecological benefits of their service. “We did something good for the environment,” said one buildOn program member. “Something that you could immediately see.”