Environmental internships: plant trees and (re)connect people with our planet
Roots partners with NGOs and small start-up companies with ethical and sustainable practices; all organizations that are adding valuable contributions to community programs, conservation efforts, or local and green economies. One of them is Greenpop, a non-profit on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet. They offer environmental internships with a different focus. Read more about this active organization in Cape Town.
What was the need for Greenpop?
In 2010, Misha Teasdale was returning back home to Cape Town after traveling 16 countries as part of a film production crew. The adventure had allowed for incredible personal growth, but Misha was keenly aware of the negative impact of his nomadic lifestyle on the environment. He calculated his carbon footprint. It turned out he accumulated 360,00 air miles and hundreds more inland vehicle miles. With nine friends he discussed his concerns over supper one night which resulted in the group coming together to get their hands dirty for our planet.
The goal? To plant 1000 trees during the month of September in the under-greened townships of Cape Town. They fundraised, researched appropriate planting locations, gathered like-minded individuals and the campaign came together beautifully. After the final tree had been placed in the ground the group went back to their day jobs. But their phones didn’t stop ringing. Underfunded schools who had heard about the project were requesting trees, companies were offering their support and individuals were asking to volunteer. Misha, his partner Lauren O’Donnell and their friend Jeremy Hewitt realized that there was an ongoing need for an organization that connects people to the planet, each other and themselves and decided to focus all of their energy on making it a reality. And, Greenpop was born.
Greenpop is a non-profit on a mission to (re)connect people with our planet – and have fun doing it! They plant trees through urban greening and reforestation projects, spread environmental awareness wherever they go, and activate people through green festivals and workshops. Greenpop was founded in 2010 and has since planted over 70,000 trees at schools and other urban sites as well as forests across South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
This organization sees its beneficiaries as partners in their mission and aims to empower them to maintain and grow their urban greening and reforestation projects over time. They also believe in encouraging people to get active (not anxious) about the future of our planet. As such, turning green action into an event is at their core. They host corporate groups on facilitated tree planting days on the Cape Flats. They organize a tree planting and music festival for 500 people in Africa’s southernmost forest. Or run an educational sustainability camp for a school group. But even a clothing swap evening at their office is part of the mix. They always aim to get people active by making green living fun and popular.
For those who cannot attend their events, they have a strong online presence and regularly create and share content aimed at inspiring a greener lifestyle. On their 5th birthday they launched The Active Citizen; a bi-weekly newsletter that encourages their global audience to get active for themselves, their communities and the planet.
- Urban Greening Programme – Greenpop’s oldest running project and it sits at the core of what they do. Over the past 6 years, they planted and monitored over 10,000 indigenous and fruit trees. And they planted trees at over 250 schools, clinics, and community organizations on the Cape Flats. Prior to any trees being planted, Greenpop undertakes a careful site selection process to ensure that communities take ownership of their projects. After the trees are in the ground, Greenpop maintains an ongoing relationship with their beneficiaries. They do weekly check-ins, frequent monitoring visits, and bi-annual skills development workshops.
- Reforestation – by combining alien vegetation clearing or thinning with a proactive planting regime, these projects aim to bolster the original forest and stimulate and accelerate the regrowth of the original vegetation.
- Satellite Projects Program – it aims to support independent like-minded projects in South Africa and Tanzania that are working towards their shared goals of urban greening and reforestation.
- Annual Events – all aimed at bringing people together to plant trees, immerse in environmental action and have fun while doing it. For example the Festival of Action
Environmental Internships in Cape Town
Greenpop could not have done what they have without the help of hundreds of South African and international volunteers. Some join on plant days, others help out in the nursery or attend one of their amazing events. But they also offer long term environmental internships in Cape Town (based on a volunteer work placement). And you don’t have to be an environmental scientist or professional to join as they look for people with different backgrounds.
- Creative Writing Internship
- Social Media and PR Internship
- Fundraising Internship
- Urban Greening Internship
- Graphic Design Internship
Greenpop is a social business but it also represents a way of life. The energy and passion cultivated through Greenpop spread far and wide with each new Treevolutionary that joins them for an environmental internship. While Greenpop works hard and focuses on the task at hand, they know how to have fun and enjoy the time they spend together as a team. Their aim is to create an ethical and green standard that resonates with all involved and helps create a fun and enjoyable, informal working environment.
Greenpop runs on teamwork. Everyone has their own roles and responsibilities but they all help where they can – whether it’s at an office cleaning blitz or at a Greenpop event. There always is a buzz in the office, so don’t be surprised if strange things happen. Greenpop has planted over 120,000 trees since it first began in 2010.