The Tree Fairy

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Remember when I told you I was going to start doing volunteer work? Well, guess what. I actually did it! I know, right? Saying I’m going to do something and then actually doing it isn’t something that happens every day.

I decided to do volunteer work for Denver Digs Trees. I’ve mentioned them before — they’re the awesome peeps who provide free and low-cost street trees to Denver residents. I’m working as a site inspector. This means that, if you applied for a tree and live in my assigned area, I’ll come to your yard, check it out, and determine whether you can get a tree (or trees, in some cases) and where you can put it. I fill out a form and a sign that goes on your door (letting you know whether you’ve been approved or denied) and mark an “x” with white spray paint where your tree should be planted. Actually, Ben did the spray painting. He and Soren came along to help me out.

This weekend, we inspected 17 yards in our neighborhood (I have more to do still). I had to say no to two, which was kind of awful (I probably should’ve said no to a third, and that shit is going to keep me up tonight, I swear). I thought about bringing cookies to give families who can’t get a tree, but I don’t think people are in the habit of accepting random baked goods from the dorks who come to inspect their yard. Only one homeowner came out to see what the freaks with a can of spray paint were doing in his yard, and I had to call just one applicant when I got to the site and found that the address didn’t exist (it turned out to be the building on the corner, which used to be a bar but currently is closed; I should’ve asked the guy if he wanted us to open a pizza place/brewery in there).


Here is Ben, defacing a curb in Denver.

This is without question the best volunteer experience I’ve ever had (which isn’t really saying much, but still). The training (a few hours on a Saturday morning) was fun, interesting, and informative. The work itself is fantastic. It’s interesting and you feel like you’re making a little bit of a difference in people’s lives (I know that’s kind of dramatic, but I was really, seriously thrilled when I came home one day to find the “you’ve been approved” sign hanging on our front door — until then, we had zero trees on our property and I really didn’t think we had enough room). It’s not depressing, too much of a time commitment, or too difficult. You don’t have to show up at a specific location with other people who all know each other and you’re always the new kid who feels like you did that time you got a job at a restaurant and you hated to ask where the croutons were and felt like the line cooks were talking about you. You don’t come home one day with more cats. You just walk around your neighborhood and act like, well, the tree fairy. There’s nothing wrong with being the tree fairy, bringing trees to all the people who asked for them and have enough room. We have learned a little more about our neighborhood (which is important) — like, there’s a nice little pocket northeast of here where there are a bunch of cute houses I never knew existed and there’s that memorial wall I posted yesterday, which I’d never seen before. And it’ll be cool next year, when we’re going for a walk and we see the trees that by then will be doing their tree thing in our little corner of Denver.

Good lord I’m a dork about this. But it was really cool, and I just wanted to tell you about something I told you about and then actually did. If you’re looking for fun volunteer work in Denver, I highly recommend Denver Digs Trees.