Origin Story: Sam Walker, GTP and Social Greenery

By Sam Walker

Green Tree Project hit us like a meteor in December of 2016. It started that fall when one of our children moved in with us. You see, we were a therapeutic foster home, so we specialized in providing care for children who had special needs. One of our little boys came to us after having been through half a dozen other foster homes in only seven months at the age of four. He was a sad, spiritless kiddo. And he was angry. We were using our therapeutic training to help him, but we also decided that an extravagant Christmas would be a fun way to inject some joy into his world. We went over the top. We bought the biggest tree we could find from the tree lot and stuffed it in our home Dr. Seuss style. We over decorated, over purchased and over baked. It was fun and frivolous and totally extra. We had a blast.

It was after Christmas when we found this kiddo crying at the window.”Don’t worry honey! Christmas will come back every year,” we tried to reassure him. “It’s not that,” He cried. “I just thought you loved the tree.” “Oh sweetheart of course we loved the tree! We decorated it, hung our precious homemade ornaments on it, sat around it and opened our gifts. It was basically part of our family!””No,” he said. “You threw it away.” Just like you’ll throw me away. We could practically hear the unspoken part of what he was thinking. And so,Green Tree Project took roots and sprang to life. And that child I told you about? We continued fostering he and his siblings for several years. In fact,we adopted all five of them on April 17, 2019.

We realized that our Christmas traditions are so very far from aligning to our family values. We believe in nurturing, sustainability, intentional choices, careful plans and modeling responsible behavior. We believe that the slower, more difficult path is often the right one. What on earth were we doing throwing a tree away every year? That’s when we knew there had to be a better way forward. When we really started examining our family traditions, what we found was astonishing: Our traditions just didn’t match our values, not even a little.Social Greenery is here to show you that sustainability doesn’t equal austerity, and that the hard work of a more eco-friendly future must include those family traditions we hold dear.

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