We are gearing up for #Earth Day! I am filling out my TED profile;

Our idea worth spreading;

We’re planting a trillion trees during the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. It’ll cut global temperature by 1 degree while we work on other solutions. Children love to help so we’ve been taking them out of school to plant trees on local public lands. They become stewards of their local trees, woodlands and forests. Even babies can plant trees as we ask volunteers to dig the holes when the children are small and all they do is put a little sapling in the hole; fill it in and water their tree. Gloves are useful but they can tuck it in with their shoe, the children do not require tools. Work done, it only takes a minute. A chocolate Tree-t is next. We tailor events to local delights, using what is available; borrowing tools, raincoats or sunhats. If you have time you can add a workshop on the trees’ benefits, weeding, watering and protecting them, maybe stay for a picnic. We add them to the UN Tree Counter – it’s a race. Climate Action makes you feel good! Trees can live for over a thousand years, what a great thing to do for your future! Vandelism decreases. Biodiversity increases. We monitor the growth and constantly improve. By getting sponsored saplings the events are free. People can sponsor trees too, families love to visit their local trees. Now we have outdoor classrooms, tree shelterbelts and nature corridors. Weeds are trampled, not sprayed and mulched when young to retain moisture. Local communities help with watering if required and with hugging the trees, if that seems like a good idea. It’s restoration. We could simply fence off the land and wait for re-wilding, time is short to capture the carbon required to sequester for climate crisis reason though. Our motto; #stoptalkingstartplanting. We copied Plant-for-the-Planet Tree Academies but because our school curricula are crowded we shortened the model to a tree planting party with a shorter talk element when we found the planting was what children really really enjoyed.

I’m passionate about…

Preserving the diversity of life on the planet and improving our health, happiness and wealth. Prevention is so much easier than cure; I had the good fortune to visit a reserve in South Africa with a breeding programme for cheetahs. So many of their cubs were unwell because there are so few individuals left on the planet. The conservers were going to endless lengths collaborating with global zoos to rectify the unfixable. How much easier to take steps to preserve and grow habitats. I love children’s enthusiasm to care for nature, so many adults also want to take environmental action, I go around putting the elements together to enable this to happen. Most people are just doing their best. Virtual life has left us feeling out of touch with nature, tree planting is a simple and easy activity that has long term benefits with a cascade of positive results.

My Bio; Working on the simplest and easiest fix we’ve come up with to bend the CO2 curve. It’s still not that simple. It’s a challenge that suits my experience. I’m a teacher, a mother and was selected as one of Ireland’s top 50 Social Entrepreneurs by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland a while back. I served as a public representative on Dublin City Council for the Clontarf Ward which gives me a good understanding of local government and national politics. I acknowledge my great good fortune in the support I have received from so many quarters which has enabled the voluneer-run project to grow to this point (January 2021) where we look forward to achieving our goal on time, 1M trees planted by and for our 1M Irish schoolchildren by the 2023 season. Then what? More trees, in Ireland and across the globe.

People don’t know I am good at……….well I reckon people do know what I am good at as teachers are trained communicators and since I have been let loose on social media with my tree-promotion zeal well; welcome to the Orlaverse. I have always enjoyed all the self-improvement books so I am better at looking at the list of things I can improve. More practically I can enlist help with my shortcomings so if anyone likes doing these things I would as soon not do then please get in touch; um. I am stuck now because I love almost everything I get to do with the project I am carrying out now. The thing is there are a lot of lovely things I would like to do and the days are only so long. I am going to say this like an affirmation; I am good at getting climate actions delivered.

My TED Story; I was a TED early adaptor and was hooked on the best website on the web from soon after it began. My project began with the “Plant a Tiny Forest” talk by the great Shubhendu Sharma. I had always dreamed of planting a big forest and had not gotten around to buying the land, the trees and planting them. A teacher’s salary is a modest one for this ambition so it was time to look at this new way of Re-Leafing Ireland. This talk persuaded me that I could start with a small woodland. I had in fact done one such grove already at my school with help from a charity so now I did a repeat. Then I discovered this was happening in 60 countries with the goal of planting 1m trees set as a challenge by a nine-year-old boy so we were off. Now the Tiny Forest stretches in pockets from Cork to Donegal and from Dublin to the Wild Atlantic Way. Cool. Thanks for the start, TED. This idea was well worth spreading. My tweak was to involve my pupils, then the children of the neighbouring schools, the next town and the next one again. In my 7th year volunteering in leading this initiative in Ireland we are getting places! Our head of state, President Michael D. Higgins was presented by our delegation with our 100,000th sapling on our National Tree Day in October 2020.

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