Written by Sam Van Leer, Founder of Urban Paradise Guild

Urban Paradise Guild (UPG)was created to put the tools in your hands, so you can be the change you wish to see in the world. We offer volunteer opportunities every day of the week! Every UPG project protects Miami from the causes, and sometimes the effects of Sea-Level Rise (SLR). Expect real work, and a real workout. What will you do?

Urban Forestry: Protect, restore or create Native Habitat, and put the life into wildlife including butterflies, birds, manatees and dolphins. Provide new experiences for the people to enjoy them. Projects are ongoing at Oleta, Arch Creek East Preserve, Amelia, Lemon City, Wynwood, Vizcaya and Matheson. Many are multi-acre, removing destructive exotics and planting Natives. Habitats have included Mangrove, Transitional Slope, Dune, Maritime Hammock, Wetland and Pine Rockland. SLR: Each project captures carbon; some strengthen coastlines too.

Urban Agriculture: Provide low-income families living in apartments with their own organic Family Gardens and access to Food Forests; help others get started composting and growing food. UPG is creating Garden Centers at Lemon City and Amelia Earhart Park. We hope to provide 70 square foot organic raised-bed Family Gardens to 500 low-income families living in apartments (35,000 square feet total). The Food Forest at Lemon City has more than 90 fruit trees. Their service areas will include Liberty City, El Portal, Little Haiti, Wynwood, North Miami, Hialeah and Opa-Locka. SLR: Chemical Farming is a major cause of SLR, and Organic Food is the solution.

Nurseries: Care for the plants UPG uses to change the world. Plant seeds, transplant seedlings from small pots to large, so trees grow strong for their new lives. Nurseries are at Oleta, Amelia, Lemon City, Vizcaya and Miami Shores Montessori School. SLR: Every plant makes UPG projects possible.

Experiential Education: All UPG projects go beyond training to teach relevant theory and concepts. UPG was selected 3 times as MDC Community Partner of the Year for Service-Learning. SLR: Volunteers build skills and motivation to become real agents of change.

Volunteers range in age from 15 months to 108 years. Reservations are required. Students may earn service hours with different levels of commitment: Casual (make your reservation), Service-Learning (specified hours), or to build your career, become a Team Leader (around 150 hours) or Intern (500 hours). Volunteer Staffers make routine commitments, and bring mature skills.

To volunteer, visit www.urban-paradise.org, to donate: www.ioby.org/project/urban-paradise-guild-garden-centers.

About Sam
Sam Van Leer is a generalist and inventor. Sam began as a toddler exploring coasts and waters with his father, a physical oceanographer. Self-education included nonfiction, military history, futurism and fiction; college spanned gunsmithing, anthropology, literature and writing. A prior career included data architecture used on 6 continents, and his design is the standard Beach Trash Can used on Miami Beach and Crandon. These eclectic skills prepared him to found UPG in 2008. Email: gro.esidarap-nabrunull@mas.