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Commonwealth Cooperative Bank
August 8, 2013
Meet Devon Grodkiewicz of ”Southie Trees"
By Rick Winterson

Devon Grodkiewicz is currently the Coordinator of “Southie Trees”, which works out of Donna Brown’s South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation office at 365 West Broadway.  “Southie Trees” is an environmental advocacy group that has one purpose:  to maintain, protect, and increase tree cover in South Boston.

No one has to be told how important trees are to a neighborhood, especially an urban neighborhood like South Boston.  Just think for a brief moment about how important shade has been during this hotter-than-normal summer, and how welcome those touches of green are along our main streets and store fronts.  Certain trees will even filter out airborne contaminants, thus providing a certain amount of relief for asthma and allergy sufferers in the City.

The previous Coordinator of “Southie Trees”, Bethany Lawlor, finished her year with the organization earlier this summer.  She introduced Devon to the Coordinator’s job, and still takes an interest in seeing that grant applications are being properly processed.

“Southie Trees” was started up by Susan Labandibar of Tech Networks of Boston.  The “Southie Trees” people work closely with Planet Southie, an all-volunteer group led by Stefanie Valovic.  It’s all part of a local green network devoted to upping the quality of life in South Boston in an environmentally benign way.

Devon has some excellent background to offer “Southie Trees”.  He spent his early years on a small sheep farm in New Jersey with his parents, Jeff and Cindy, and a sister and two brothers – Christina, Jeremy, and Travis.  His father is a veterinarian; the sheep were kept mostly for their wool.  After the annual shearing, the wool was used, straightforwardly enough, to make woolen blankets.

As a Co-op student at Northeastern, Devon is focusing on Environmental Studies and Entrepreneurship.  The latter field is now branching out from business-related pursuits into managing the entrepreneurial aspects of non-profit efforts.  Devon isn’t sure yet whether to take a dual degree or to minor in one of his areas of interest, but he has three more years of study to decide.  He’s President of Northeastern’s Environmental Club and had been looking for meaningful cooperative work.  The match of his talents with “Southie Trees” is obvious.

He’s keeping a busy agenda.  He planning a Community Cleanup in August, followed by more ornamental bulb planters along West Broadway and tree planting in selected locations during the fall.  He’d like to get South Boston businesses to provide volunteers; trees are often given at cost to “Southie Trees” by local nurseries.  Devon hopes to have between 50 and 150 new trees in place before winter.

Devon thinks that “Southie Trees” has arrived at its developmental stage, where there’s now a need for a full-time employee and a Co-op student.  That’s all quite ambitious, of course, but think of the green spaces and trees it will bring to the old hometown.

As we said above, one of the keys needs at “Southie Trees” is volunteers.  Many South Boston youth have become involved, and homeowners and businesses are asked to help out also.  Did you know that you can obtain tree care information from “Southie Trees” for trees in your own neighborhood, or even ask them for a new tree of your own?  Just e-mail “Southie Trees” at southietrees1@gmail.com for more information or assistance.   Make use of this new but valuable environmental group.



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