Sometimes it takes a village to raise a park.
More than 120 years ago, the Munson family settled near a quiet pond surrounded by the black cottonwood and water birch of the Okanagan lowlands of British Columbia. Today the beautiful, 10-hectare green space is home to otters, beavers and diverse bird life, while its trails are explored daily by locals and visitors alike.
But from 1958 to 2015, the area around Munson Pond was little more than a gravel pit in an unused industrial lot. Its transformation was made possible through three years of dedicated work by community volunteers, including Starbucks partners like Joyce Preussner, her family, and the team of green aprons she rallied for the restoration.
Joyce moved to Kelowna more than 12 years ago, and she’s since become a veteran volunteer on environmental projects across the Okanagan. When people need help keeping Kelowna beautiful, they often turn to Joyce. Of course, she’s quick to credit her colleagues.
“The Starbucks team up in Okanagan has always been a force to reckon with.”
In 2015, a regular at her store (and member of the Central Okanagan Land Trust) added a unique request to her usual morning order:would her group like to join in a new clean-up event?
Over the next three years, they would plant more than 3,000 trees and haul countless bags of weeds and garbage from Munson Pond. Some days it was just her team of about 25, while on others their numbers swelled to more than 75 members of the community, from children to retirees.
Seedling by seedling, weed by weed, Munson Pond was transformed. So were the people working on it.
“It’s been cool to see the change in my kids, and how there’s a level of respect and appreciation for what is out there. It’s just not dirt and trees — oh, it’s a home for a woodpecker, or it’s providing a safe place for this animal.”
But Joyce and her team aren’t resting on their success.
“I’m currently planning for our next project. There’s another park that needs a little love and attention. There are a few that need it. We’re already gearing up to do more good out there.”
April 22nd is Earth Day. This year, take the time to connect with your community, nurture your environment and discover beauty in the world around you.