NeighborWoods Month Photo Contest Winners Announced

Washington, DC (December 7, 2006)- Congratulations to Rene Lafflam of RNeighbors (Rochester, MN) for her winning NeighborWoods Month photo! Rene’s photo captured the spirit of volunteerism that thrives in NeighborWoods programs across the nation. The photograph hooked the judges for its heartfelt atmosphere- a family planting a street tree in Northwest Rochester, and clearly enjoying the day. Pictured are Andrew Masterpole (an architect at McGhie & Betts Inc. and one of the founding volunteers of RNeighbors) and his daughters Mia (8) and Ava (6). Both Andy and his oldest daughter, Zoe, are certified Citizen Foresters.

1st Place:
The picture was taken at one of three community boulevard plantings hosted by RNeighbors on October 21, 2006. The events planted 238 trees with 150 volunteers (450 volunteer hours), trained 32 Citizen Foresters, certified 17, and attracted $11,760 in community support. The three plantings synced up well with ACT’s three NeighborWoods Month focus categories.
Partnership with affordable housing or Improving underserved communities
Ben Franklin Elementary/20th Street SE. RNeighbors volunteers planted 80 trees in this neighborhood with help from Friendship Place, a faith-based initiative in Southeast Rochester. Friendship Place provides snacks and tutoring after school to at-risk youth. Several of the girls who participated in this planting are from a local hip-hop team coached by RNeighbors’ Executive Director, Rene Lafflam.
Sustainable and efficient practices
Elton Hills Drive West/Riverview West Park. When trees were originally planted along this major thoroughfare 30 years ago, planners did not accurately account for future tree growth. Unfortunately, many large tree have had to be removed due to spacing and power line conflicts. To help this area recover from the recent removals, RNeighbors planted 79 site-appropriate trees to celebrate NeighborWoods Month.
Healthy trees/healthy communities
50th Avenue SW/White Oaks Park. Seventy-nine new trees will serve a major traffic-calming role along this route where cars drive fast. After all of the trees were planted, one of the volunteers took it upon herself to organize some of the younger kids to do a community cleanup along the boulevard, too. One of the many successful partnerships that assisted in these plantings was Operation Hometown Gratitude, a group of high school students who send care packages to military serving overseas.
2nd Place: Greenstreets for Clay. The Home Depot Store Manager Jeff Wiegert and NeighborWoods “Draw Your Own Tree” Contest 7-9 year old category winner Alexander Zenonos.

3rd Place: RNeighbors. Students and a teacher from Mayo High School and Friendship Place (a faith-based youth outreach program) helped to plant 80 trees at 20th Street S.E. in Rochester, MN. (Pictured from left to right are Dedoch Chan, Falicia Polus, Greg Parker, Banypiny Chan, and Ervey Balderas.)

Honorable Mentions:
a. Greenscape of Jacksonville- Tree pruning demonstration with youth volunteers.
b. Goleta Valley Beautiful- Teenagers staking a newly planted tree.
c. Heartland Tree Alliance- Mandy and volunteer removing burlap sack (photo by Beth Walsh).
d. Heartland Tree Alliance- Youth and senior community members planting (photo by Beth Walsh).
e. UC Green- Staff and volunteers posing in front of the NeighborWoods banner.



Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for the contest!