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California Tour Planting The Future

ECO LA

Have you heard of a group traveling California, Planting Fruit Trees in Public Schools and Communities? Sound like a fantasy world?

No, it’s an amazing vision of Michael Flynn – Director of Education of Common Vision to give back to communities and students across California. A non-profit organization educating children and community leaders on how to unite neighborhoods through planting of fruit trees and education on managing and caring for them. A bold act for one group to do across a state. Common Vision now in their 5th year of Planting the Future with their Fruit Tree Tour is hoping to reach out to more communities every year. We can only hope more organizations and more volunteers get involved in this type of community giving. So readers, this is our interview with Michael Flynn of Common Vision.

ECO-LA:
Hi Michael. First of all I wanted to give thanks to you for the programs you run and manage. It’s a real blessing to many people and the world is very fortunate to have it. Can you tell us a little about Common Vision?

Michael:

Common Vision is a solution focused non-profit organization that focuses on inspiring students of all ages towards sustainable lifestyles.

ECO-LA:

How do you reach out to these students?

Michael:

Common Visions most developed project is called Fruit Tree Tour and it’s a program where Common Vision brings 27 educators and artist from all across the country aboard our fleet of vegetable powered busses to work with the public school students of California.

ECO-LA:

How did Common Vision get organized?

Michael:

Common Vision originally started when a group of the core organizers came together and saw a need for an environmental education that focused on the solutions. It focuses on helping people find ways in their own lives and their own communities to make the necessary changes to better our world.

ECO-LA:

What are your thoughts on the biggest growing threat to our environment today?

Michael:

I think the biggest growing threat to our environment today is our lack of relationship to the Earth and our lack of understanding of our local neighborhoods and areas as the environment. Often the students that we work with in the public school system think of the environment as it’s something far away, like the Polar Bears or the Rain Forests. We see our job as empowering the students to engage their own communities as the environment and make the changes there.

ECO-LA:

What have you found that works best to get a community involved?

Michael:

In every city that Common Vision visits on the Fruit Tree Tour we work with a number of local grassroots organizations that are doing work in their own communities and finding ways to join forces with these organizations to help impact the communities that they serve.

ECO-LA:

What changed your mind to work towards helping the environment?

Michael:

I started working for the environment when I started seeing issues like global warming really coming to the forefront of communities all across the world.

ECO-LA:

How has your impact been in the cities you have worked with?

Michael:

Common Vision comes through a city with its Fruit Tree Tour and works with about 10 to 15 schools and a handful of community organizations. The Fruit Tree Tour leaves about two to three hundred fruit trees every year in the communities. It is our hope that the fruit from these trees really serves the community and feed those in need and the communities can come together to care for their fruit trees as one small piece of their local environment.

ECO-LA:

What are your thoughts on Reducing, Reusing or Recycling?

Michael:

Before reducing, reusing or recycling, rethinking is really the first part of the equation that people need to come together on. Common vision really tries to empower different relationships with the Earth and our resources that aren’t based on consumption and waste, but rather a new way of engaging your environment around you.

ECO-LA:

Have you seen a positive impact from the students you have come in contact with?

Michael:

In my experience many students that we have worked with on the Fruit Tree Tour have not had the opportunity to go to the woods, to really work in the Earth. The opportunity to plant a tree, to touch the Earth, to see the worms, to develop a relationship with the trees that they are planting, it connects them to their local environment in a very meaningful way.

ECO-LA:

How would you like to see Common Vision 10 years from now?

Michael:

In the past four years Common Vision Fruit Tree Tour has planted about two thousand trees in urban centers across California. So ten years from now, Common Vision is going to be in a place of being stewards of school Orchards of about 10 thousand fruit trees. I hope to see Common Vision in the next 10 years receiving gifts of fruit pies from across California.
The tree planters of Common Vision use the planting of the tree as an opportunity to engage the students in a different way about their environment. One of the most important concepts is the concept of doing something now for the future. The students that plant the tree may not see the fruit from that particular tree, but they may have younger brothers or sisters or know people in their community that will get to eat from that tree. Or sometimes we talk to the students about how we’ve planted at a middle school or high school in their community so when they go to those schools there will already be fruit on the tree for them. And so students start engaging their environment in a way that looks at the future that understands that action now creates resources in the future.

ECO-LA:

How can a school or community reach out to you?

Michael:

The best way for schools to get involved for community organizations to contact us and for volunteers to find out ways how to plug in with Common Vision you check us out at www.commonvision.org. Our website stands as a great resource for information on the programs we run.
In the five years of running the fruit tree tours in cities across California we’ve developed long term relationships with school boards, with nutrition networks, with local community groups that we work with each year when we come back. At this point a lot of schools get in contact with networks that have already worked with us, with who we are already co-maintaining orchards.

ECO-LA:

Your tour is through California do you see Common Vision expanding nationally?

Michael:

In 2002 Common Vision ran a bio-diesel out reach tour. We traveled the country and taught workshops on how to make bio-diesel and how to establish community co-ops.
The program like the fruit tree works best when Common Vision comes with inspiration to give local community groups that are working in their community join together. Common Vision dedicates its program to developing these relationships. Our work is to deepen these relationships throughout California.

ECO-LA:

What are your thoughts about Global
Warming?

Michael:

I personally see issues like global warming as opportunities for communities to work together for one goal. I see us standing in a very unique place in history where communities, nations and neighborhoods are all going to have to work together to find solutions, big and small, to help heal the planet in these times.

ECO-LA:

How can individuals work together to solve this problem?

Michael:

If we are really to make a difference in the environmental situation it’s going to take the engagement and dedication of multiple generations. Common Vision finds it really important to focus on both educating the leaders and inspiring the leaders of tomorrow and working with the youth to create a connection to the Earth. It is also important to create a connection and understanding to see their local areas as part of the environment that they came here to improve and to work with and make the changes within.

ECO-LA:

Thank you for all your hard work and for organizing and contributing to the well being of many. It’s really a blessing to have you and your organization reaching out and teaching many and really laying down a foundation for many generations to come.

Michael:

Thank you!

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© 2003-2017 Common Vision | The School Orchard People
© 2003-2017 Common Vision
The School Orchard People