Note: This is the fourth in a series of Monday posts about the Restoration Management Plan for North Beach Park. To read the others in the series, please click the “Restoration Management Plan” link in the tags at the bottom of the post.
Friends of North Beach Park has been as successful as it has been because of the people who live near (but not on) the park and frequently come to work parties. Our work parties are usually five to seven people, a good number for the spaces we work in. We have a semi-regular crew of people who attend eight out of ten work parties a year. This greatly improves the consistency and amount of work we’re able to do.
FoNBP has tried many avenues to get volunteers for our work parties. We feel the best approach is to consider it like sowing seed: try a lot of things, and some of them will take.
Everyone who signs in to a volunteer event is added to the email list for the park. We send out one large email announcing the work party, generally two weeks in advance. It usually includes some other information about the park or about other organizations. Shortly after a work party, an email is sent to the attendees with a little report.
This email list is maintained by hand, so to speak, using the contacts in Yahoo! mail. FoNBP will be switching to a contact manager program soon.
FoNBP has tabled at two different community events, three times at “Art in the Garden” and twice at “Sustainable Ballard.”
Art in the Garden is our most successful outreach event. It is located in the Ballard p-patch, at 25th Ave. and 86th St. This is very close to North Beach Park, and many of the people who stop at our table have been there. Success at this event is getting names for our email list. Most important in 2014 was making contact with a neighbor of the South Plateau and meeting someone who had lived near the park and illicitly maintained the social trails (he’s since moved away). We consider this very worthwhile, but also very pleasant.
Sustainable Ballard is held on a Sunday in late September at Ballard Commons Park. FoNBP has tabled at this event twice with Green Seattle Partnership, to promote Green Seattle Day (first Saturday in November). The first time was very successful, as the weather was beautiful and the festival was jammed with people all day long. The GSP liaison at the table was very satisfied with the number of names we were getting for their mailing list. The second time was much less successful due to bad weather.
Up until recently in 2014, Ballard had its own newspaper, the Ballard News-Tribune. In 2008, there were two articles about North Beach Park. In 2013, they printed another article about the restoration.
Print (as in newspapers) is not a viable option for promoting work parties. The surviving newspapers (both weekly and daily) only print parks-related news items when it fits their agenda.
In 2011 the Ballard blog, MyBallard.com, was very active and posted a couple stories a day. It had an avid readership, and got many comments, both on its own site and on Facebook. MyBallard posted a few articles about Friends of North Beach Park (most notably this one). In 2012, the editors were forced by economic circumstances to make the blog part time, which decayed it considerably.
There are many service groups in the Seattle area that are potential sources of volunteers.
OneBrick Seattle is the local group of a nationwide organization. The focus of OneBrick is to get people in their 20s and 30s to volunteer. They use social media extensively, and have a large online presence on Facebook, Twitter, and the web.
Four volunteers from OneBrick participated in a work party with Friends of North Beach Park. Considering the time of year (July) this was a good turn-out. And it was appropriate for the amount of work we had to do.
We might work with OneBrick again in the future.
YMCA Earth Service Corps (YESC)
YESC is a city-wide program to attract environmentally interested high school students into service programs. Most of the programs focus on on-campus projects, but some groups work with forest stewards on restoration projects.
FoNBP spoke to the Ballard HS YESC chapter in 2011, and three members attended a work party, but follow-up attempts at contact have not been successful.
High School Community Service
All high school students in Seattle are required to do some community service. Only Ballard HS has a community service coordinator, however. FoNBP has work parties listed in the Ballard HS community service newsletter.
Private high schools also frequently have a community service requirement. We need to contact these high schools individually.
College service groups
FoNBP is working with Seattle Pacific University to participate in their annual City Quest program.
ESRM 100 students
Our experience with ESRM 100 students appears to be better than most. We get a few students and they usually work well. It might be because they have to travel across the city to get to NBP work parties, as opposed to walking down from the dorm.
Other UW groups
We plant to start working with other UW groups, particularly the fraternity and sorority umbrella organizations, and ENVIR 100 students, in the fall.
Corporate community service
FoNBP did have one large, fun work party with Nordstrom employees. However, the size of the spaces available to all volunteers precludes corporate events.