A Pop of Green

Local school receives a ‘treevolusion’ to celebrate the bloom of Spring


By Tina Soetzenberg

Spring has sprung in South Africa – despite the continued rains in Cape Town (and long may they last).

For the children attending Steenberg High School in the Western Cape, their 1st of September started with their school transformed into an environmentally friendly haven when 30 new trees were planted to adorn the school grounds.  Helping to green the school, the Rotary Club of Newlands, in collaboration with environmental non-profit organisation, Greenpop, celebrated Spring Day, by planting the trees and also launching a new Music and Arts Centre at the school.

“The significance of trees cannot be overemphasised,” said Graham Finlayson, President of the Rotary Club of Newlands. “Aesthetically, the greenery breathes life into an area that was quite stark before. The trees not only create a positive outdoor space, they also will provide shade and wind protection at Steenberg High School for many years to come.”

Greenpop sponsored the vibrant indigenous trees, including Waterberry, False Olive and Wild Olive plants, and helped guide students during the planting. The environmentally conscious organisation was established in 2010, after founder, Misha Teasdale, returned home to Cape Town from a film production trip that took him to 16 countries. Despite enjoying his major traveling adventures, Misha was concerned with how his travels affected the planet and set to work. After discussing his dreams with family and friends, he set out to plant 1000 trees with Cape Town, thus starting his annual campaign that ultimately created Greenpop.

Today, the organisation plants trees through urban greening and reforestation projects, spread environmental awareness, and educate people through green festivals and workshops across Southern Africa.

“When we plant trees, it is not just about putting a plant in the ground,” commented Farrah Schwab, Urban Greening Programme Manager at Greenpop. “We ensure that the learners and others who participate in the process understand the broader environmental significance of every sapling planted. Together participants learn how to plant and care for trees and the significance of the tree species we select. It forms a comprehensive experience that prepares them to be active citizens united in practical solutions that address climate change.”

The tree planting took place in response to a challenge set by Rotary International President, Ian Riseley, who asked for all Rotarians throughout the world to plant a tree by Earth Day on 22 April 2018. The challenge was supported by the District Governor for Rotary District 9350 (for Angola, Namibia, Northern and Western Cape), Lynette Stassen, who participated in the tree planting ceremony.

The new trees are also in celebration of growth at Steenberg High School. Spring Day marked the start of a new venture for the school, as they opened a brand-new Music and Arts Centre. The Centre, which cost about R2,5 million, provides a neat foyer, office, store room and most importantly, plenty of space for two school orchestras to practice and perform in. It was built by Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB), in partnership with the Rotary Club of Newlands, who contributed to and managed the project.

Finlayson believes that it is a privilege to be part of Steenberg High School’s journey. “As these trees grow and thrive, we look forward to seeing the Steenberg High School do the same with the use of the new Music and Arts Centre,” he concludes.

Every day we live out our daily routines, we don’t always notice the major carbon footprint we leave on the Earth, which remains long after we’ve come home from work or gone to bed. Following in the footsteps of Greenpop and Steenberg High School, let’s give back to our home and take care of the environment. Do the little things that matter and grow a new future for the following generation.

For more information about the Rotary Club of Newlands, visit http://www.newlands.org.za/.

And for more information about Greenpop, visit: https://greenpop.org/