Tuesday, September 1, 2009

T.L.C. this School Year and Beyond

Last week at the high school, students all seemed to be on "red alert," with uncertainty for the immediate future due to new or changing class schedules. Parents were thrown into mountains of paperwork, course disclosure forms, and check writing for school fees--all to be completed a.s.a.p. while putting in overtime as the family taxi drivers. Every student I talked to felt some form of stress, and the parents expressed exhaustion and overcommitment before fall had even begun. There was no time to take care of ourselves, much less each other.

Thankfully, the energetic students of a new campus club, Paly Environmental Initiative, had spent the summer organizing and gathering over 100 potted plants to share with the school in every classroom. They will even provide the maintenance. As I stood out on the quad with tables and tables of plants, debating between philodendrons ("easy to grow") and bromeliads ("brightens any room"), I noticed the club's founder Mikey Abrams and his club members carefully assigning each teacher or staff their requested plant. This was no free-for-all plant giveaway. A log had been created to track where individual plants would reside for the 2009-10 school year; a manila folder housed a maintenance form for every variety.

Curious about the necessity of tracking each plant, I asked Mikey if I could peruse one of the 100+ folders. In each was listed the plant name, the local donor who had provided the plant, and a maintenance "plant report" form. The following conditions were to be noted:
  • Vital statistics to be "carefully observed at all angles." Roots, leaves, stems, and container.
  • Water check by finger test and Easy Bloom Sensor.
  • Maintenance: trimming, fertilizing, and moss covering.

Obviously this is a student gifted with attention to detail, and he is inspiring the team to follow his leadership in their service to the environment. Mikey is convinced that in their endeavors to raise awareness and beautify the campus, everything matters. More good works would flourish at our high schools and beyond if we could remember this simple law of nurturing. Usually, it's the little things that make the biggest difference. Plants and human beings share the requirement of consistent care. Plants can survive pretty well with a caregiver's attention once a week; we mortals need it on a daily basis. Whether we are serving others in a formal capacity, such as volunteering for the local Red Cross chapter, or doing kind deeds at home, these acts of regular maintenance can change lives.

After someone very special to my family noticed our stress level with the impending energy drain of a new school year, he arranged a surprise delivery of multicolored roses to start the school year off on a positive note. From the same benefactor, my girls also were presented with miniature bouquets. Our friend had been watching that theoretical "human maintenance report," and noticed that we could use a little cheer. The dozen roses and now a peace lily in my office, graciously provided by Paly Environmental Initiative and Summer Winds Nursery, with it's matching manila plant report, will remind me this school year that we all need to be maintained with T.L.C. on a regular basis.

  • What are your interests? Anyone with motivation and a little organization can start or join a club to make a difference in the world.

  • Interested in service learning and the environment?
Visit the California Environmental Protection Agency:

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