People can also decorate their homes. My kids and I decorated our trees with ribbons and crepe paper, made signs, put chalk on the sidewalk, labeled our tree. I saw someone on social media was going around with chalk and labeling all the trees in their neighborhood, and was inspired to do that here, too. It’s easy to do this in New Haven since all our street trees can be identified on URI’s street tree map
However people decide to participate, we hope that they will share photos or video of their
version of Rock to Rock on social media, using the hashtag #MyRocktoRock or #RocktoRock2020.
This event is also a big fundraiser for URI and so many other environmental groups. Are you still able to do that?
Yes, we are. Amazingly, most of our sponsors have stuck with us through this. We explained to them how things were changing and how many of the perks we provide to the sponsors has to change — the city isn’t going to put up our big banners featuring the top sponsors, for example. And we’re not going to print out a thousand tee-shirts.
But the fundraising will continue through midnight on April 25. So we’re trying different things in order to attract donations, including peer-to-peer fundraising. I know a couple of teams are making knit hats for all their donors or baking cookies. URI’s team captain Chris Ozyck is giving away perennials from his garden and shout-outs to his donors in each of the videos
he is creating as part of his Rock to Rock challenge, “50 days, 50 videos, for 50 years of Earth Day.” Myself, I’m writing the lyrics to a song that will incorporate everyone who donates.
Amazing. You’re writing a song!
It’s something that my family likes to do. Every summer we rewrite the words to a different song, so this year we’re going to do it a little earlier in support of Rock to Rock. I’ll have this extra challenge of trying to fit a lot of names into the lyrics.
Beyond bringing together people from across New Haven, Rock to Rock helps support the work of URI and so many great organizations. And that is particularly important right now.
Our work at URI, of course, is very much seen as an environmental project, but it’s also a social justice project. We know that some of the people that we work with — including our partners at EMERGE and our high school team — have barriers to employment. So, for them, the specialized paid training we provide is very important. When we started to realize that everything was going to shut down and we were going to have to delay our spring planting season, my first concern was for our crew. Our GreenSkills tree planting program is very much like the Green New Deal of New Haven, and it’s been going since 2007.
What’s important is that this actually contributes to helping people sustain themselves and to have an impact that will help us all thrive through this time.
You can contribute to the URI team here. Or learn more about Rock to Rock.