News & Updates

Planter Psychology 101 By Rhea Szarics

Sep
13
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Post Script:

Hello, I'm Rhea. I've been planting in Ben Bradford's camp in Ontario for the past three years. I draw a lot of cartoons about tree planting (among other things). This series charts the psychological stages of a treeplanter working on bad land. 

 

Alex Robertson, An Account of Our Beloved Friend's Passing: An Unthinkable Threat to Planter Well-being

Mar
3
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By Erik Brinkman

By now many of you know that our good friend and sage colleague Alex Robertson has recently passed away. As a community we are here supporting each other through the immense grief and shock ­­-- shock that BC’s opioid crisis could take someone from our midst who we never would have thought was vulnerable. I am writing this account to honour his memory by shedding some light on the details of the week surrounding his passing as best I can and perhaps his passing can be a learning event for us to help mitigate this tragedy from repeating itself.

Celebrating Fred Schutter: Happy Sailing to the Next Adventure

Dec
15
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After thirty eight years as one of Brinkman’s top supervisors and division managers, in 2016 we said “bon voyage” to Fred Schutter and his wife and life partner Brigitte, as they sailed happily into Fred’s well-earned retirement. Dirk and Joyce hosted a farewell party complete with songs and speeches and libations in September after the company AGM. Here’s an excerpt from Dirk’s speech, which true-to-form celebrates the intermingling of business and friendship that has made Brinkman a family affair for decades:

Fred, our original arguments about company protocols and practices ultimately formed the ground of reforestation as a business. These debates ranged from the question of what a supervisor should operationally decide independent of the CEO/office, to what makes sense as policy and should be strategically shared with all crews, vs what remains a question of preference. We argued for so many hours in so much detail that thirty years later much of it is lost in lore because now that is just how you do it.

But I want you to hear that I acknowledge how deeply and powerfully you contributed to the company’s and the industry’s best operating practices. These balances still guides the collective governance balance between the remote project manager and roaming regional manager. You helped make ours the most effective organization in treeplanting.

And you showed other project managers how. For decades, you and your brother Bob ran our most profitable reforestation crew. Your discipline of optimizing every planter’s production every hour every day drove the highest planter earnings and maintained the highest planter loyalty. Your professional focus on prioritizing quality and client service above all anchored two long term regional relationships, still key to our BC reforestation season. Your system and disciplined practices created work continuity for our long term planters through many corporate ownership changes and radical restructuring of the clients’ forestry divisions – amazingly your system has sustained our relationship through almost forty years of these changes.

This business journey has been a life journey, a journey of friendship and, yes, sometimes one of conflict. Issues sorted themselves out and the friendship remains. Through the Schutters we learned the importance of an extended family. Your and Brigitte’s and Martin’s friendship with Joyce and I and each of our kids will endure, and we hope you will always be a part of our family.

Most of all, for those who do not know how true you have been to your name, this account illustrates you are a true Schutter. What is a Schutter? A Schutter is a Guard, a Guardian. You have been a guardian for all of us, guarding what we value most: how to trust each other.

Dirk’s speech was followed by a celebratory rap and toast from Baba, who marked the occasion with some custom lyricism about Fred’s contribution to the company and Brinkman community. Here’s an excerpt from the rap:

 

Costa Rica was Brinkman's first international wave of expansion

Freddy was made for this challenge, but what really attracted him?

Was it the tactical action or the waves on the beach crashin'?

Or the chance to live like Pablo Escobar in a hilltop mansion?

 

An incomparable palace

With a Kootenay twist on Central American stylish

The perfect staging ground for cutting deals with Terra Vitalis

Along with the team: Ricardo, Diego

The three amigos, the "Parrita Pendejos"

 

Who converted the ranches of Costa Rican cattlemen

Into rich habitats that local species inhabited

Freddy the entrepreneur, clever and passionate

Transformed the land from grass to timber stands on it

 

Yes, Freddy’s earned some downtime and deserves thanks

But I keep expecting him to admit this is just a prank

I've never known this company without Fred at the centre workin'

And I don't really identify him as a restful person

 

He's energetic and mentally with it and extroverted

Which is how every crisis that comes across his desk gets averted

I can't exactly picture him chillin' in a hammock 

Unless it's dipped in a freezing creek, or something similarly drastic

 

He's a friend and an inspiration, so I can't wait to see what's next

From Uncle John to the Legendary Treeplanter Known as "Stryker"

Nov
22
English

By Anneke Stryker

This note is to celebrate the incredible number of learnings and adjustments since first coming out to planting last season. From testing just how sore I can make my body to how to shit in the woods to embracing the friendly and open “you do you” attitude in camp.

However, one of the most fascinating aspects of coming out here is learning how much of a legend my Uncle John is. I’m so used to the quirky, quiet and stubborn-but-kind bushman uncle who invites everyone over for homemade pancakes and sausages every few weeks at his Ontario place.

I was super excited when he invited me out treeplanting and that he’d “take me under his wing.” I had no idea how generous a gesture that would actually be for me.

Here everyone knows who he is and looks up to him. Suddenly to everyone in camp I’m “Stryker’s niece.” A planter asked me if I knew my Uncle John’s “kind of a big deal out here?”

He’s so in his element. I’ve never seen him cracking so many jokes, more comfortable than ever. One day, our crew wasn’t planting so well and, as our crew boss, he called a few people out on their trees. At the end of the day as we’re packing up the crew cab, he says, “See, when I’m having a bad day, I just throw a plot on myself. Perfect spacing, oh perfect obstacling, and awesome micrositing!” in typical slow and mock-conceited Uncle John humour he gets his message out.

He knows the names of all the mountains and all the trees, recognizing bird calls and animal droppings. He just belongs here: working hard, taking care of everyone and everything, and always willing to help out where he can.

He’s not the most social uncle in the family, but he’s incredibly moral. Now that I’ve seen him in flying action from under wing, it makes me kinda proud to be the niece of the famous “Stryker”.

Now sorry-not-sorry for making you even more public Uncle John...

 

Post Script: as of October 30th, 2016 John Stryker has planted 3,44,882 trees with Brinkman since 1981. John Stryker and Ricky Coutts are the only two planters to have planted over 3 million trees with Brinkman. 

IETA publishes 2016/17 GHG Market Report. Brinkman Climate on Editorial Committee.

Nov
21
English

As a member of the Editorial Committee, Joseph Pallant & Brinkman Climate are proud to announce the publication of International Emissions Trading Association's (IETA) 2016/17 Greenhouse Gas Market Report. "Bridging the Ambition Gap: The Rise, Reach and Power of Carbon Markets." Strong work by the authors, editors and IETA team. It is a pleasure to work with such smart, dedicated collaborators in the fight against climate change. 

You can read the full report here.

A Greener's Guide to Planting

May
18
English

Crying, Cursing, Singing, Laughing: A Greener’s Guide to Planting

 

By Freya Wasteneys

“Tree planting is super hard!”

“You know tree planting is a lot of work, right?”

“I know someone who tree planted… it was horrible…”

Those were but a few of the warnings I received in the weeks leading up to my departure for camp. Warnings I had heard repeatedly, and yet still managed to increase my desire to do it. My self-punishing stubbornness twisted the kindly cautioning of friends and strangers alike into temptation.

“I’m an athlete, I like physical work. I love the outdoors. I want to plant trees!” I told the doubters, in what was to become my mantra. I thought I was prepared, but I soon learned otherwise.

Arriving at the camp was an experience in itself. Looking around, one could easily separate the veterans from the rookies, the greeners. The veterans had an air of resignation; they were seasoned warriors who knew what they were getting themselves into. They were muscled, toughed and toned, with quiet words of wisdom to impart upon those of us who dared to approach them.

And then there was us – the greeners, skipping around our new playground in all of our wide-eyed innocence. We babbled excitedly to one another, speculating and waiting with nervous anticipation.

Our first morning was chaos: it couldn’t have been any other way. I reminded me of preparing for an exam without attending class. They told us to remember the necessities: shovel, bags, boots, flagging tape, gloves, high-viz vests, but in my inexperience I forgot the things one would think if as common sense: jacket, sunscreen, bug dope, a pillow for the ride, they lay forgotten in the melee of clothes pushed to the corners of my tent.

That morning, as we bumped our way down logging roads, veering every so often to avoid pot holes, a greener commented on the “steep terrain” and “numerous slash piles” we passed, but they were soon set straight by a veteran, who informed them with a somewhat pitying look, that it was the nicest land we were going to see… probably ever.

Thus began the spiralling disillusionment as we quickly realized that the things we had deemed difficult, a worst case scenario (surely!) were in fact a planter’s dream. A creamy paradise.

And so as the day matured, so did we. The sun rose higher and bathed us in a dehydrating light, making us sweat from places we were unaware held sweat glands. Awash in salt and dirt, we learned that planting required more than inserting a shovel into the ground and sliding in a tree. There were things I had never even considered – quality, spacing, finding microsites… not to mention a million other things that our sun-drunk cerebrals tried to grasp, but soon sloshed out of our holey-bowl brains as our foreman added more and more ingredients to the intoxicating mix.

When they finally let us loose on the land, it was a cluster-fudge of inexperienced planters. Which sounds delicious, but unfortunately wasn’t. They told us to “look for triangles!” and plant using 3.1m spacing, but we soon found that finding trees was comparable to finding Waldo.

Eventually we began to pick up momentum, and with that momentum, confidence. Confidence which was rapidly crushed under steel-toed caulk boots as we were informed all the ways we could plant a bad tree:

“Leaner!”

“J-root!”

“Unclosed hole!”

“Too shallow!”

“Too deep!”

“Poor microsite!”

At which point they showed us techniques to avoid such monstrosities.

By the end of the day, everyone’s heads hung a little lower and postures drooped with the realization that we had a long way to go. Planting was hard, but not for the reasons that we had originally prepared ourselves for.

Feeling more tired mentally than physically, we piled back into the trucks, slightly dejected, but in most cases more determined.

It was in that first day that I realized that planting is an art – a smooth and continuous movement – the offspring of dancers and ninjas. Watching the experience planters could almost convince you it was an easy job. They worked with the land rather than trying to conquer it; one hand loosely holding the shovel that seemed to become an extension of their body, and the other hand deftly reaching in their bag for a tree.

Looking back now, I realize how important the “less haste, more speed” mentality is in planting. Taking the time at the beginning to properly learn techniques saves time and money in the long run and reduces risk of injury. I also learned early on that planting is a mental game in which we are faced with extremes on a daily basis. A game in which we find ourselves cursing, crying, singing, and laughing within the span of a minute, an hour, a day, only to go back and do it all again.

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