Colin Bills has been a dedicated Member since 2013, and volunteering with Casey Trees since 2010! You may recognize him as a Team Leader at numerous Community Tree Plantings, or maybe even from the Wooly Mammoth Theater Company, where he is the lead lighting designer.
We talked to Colin about what motivates him donate to how he first got involved with Casey Trees!
Casey Trees (CT): Tell us about yourself.
Colin Bills (CB): My wife and I have lived in D.C. for seventeen years, but we are products of the Midwest. We both work in theater; I am a lighting and set designer, she is a director and producer. Basically, I spend a great deal of my working life recreating reality for audiences— therefore it’s essential that I spend my free time actively seeking out any connection to sunlight, nature and real life!
CT: How did you first get involved with Casey Trees?
CB: CT had a big planting at Sherman Circle Park in the Spring of 2010 — we live on the circle, so I noticed the CT staff prepping a few days before. I walked over to ask what they were doing, and then showed up for what would be my first planting that Saturday. From there I volunteered along with some other neighbors to water those same trees every weekend that summer. Carol Herwig, one of those volunteers, encouraged me to take Trees 101, and that propelled me towards becoming a Citizen Forester and team leader — and also made me a donor.
CT: What motivates you to donate to Casey Trees?
CB: That Trees 101 class, that was the catalyst that got me to step up to donate regularly; the enthusiasm of the instructors in that class, the broad depth of the content really struck me as demonstrating just how wide the reach of the organization is. What makes Casey Trees unique is the overwhelming enthusiasm, broad knowledge and intense commitment of its volunteers and staff — my experience with Trees 101 kind of encapsulates that.
CT: What about donating to Casey Trees is most rewarding to you?
CB: I love the Tree Plantings that have a strong connection to the neighborhood in which they take place, and where, as a Team Leader, I am allowed the opportunity to talk to the neighbors. It’s incredibly fulfilling to explain to someone who’s going to see that tree as they walk to work or look outside their window for the next five, fifteen or thirty years that they’re making a long-term commitment to the health and beauty of their community. As a designer, I’m trained to notice and to tell people to notice certain things, to point out what is aesthetically important. When we’re in a neighborhood setting, this is actually possible because they can do exactly that, and it’s a nice magic trick to watch someone’s face as they consider this.
CT: What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to Casey Trees?
CB: One of the beauties of CT is that it seems to thrive on the KISS principle. “Keep it simple, stupid”. You plant a tree, you do good. Of course, it is not that simple, there is intense planning, advocacy, and there are strident negotiations with any number of bureaucracies. But the narrative, at least for the first-time volunteer, is the former. To that end, the best thing that any of us reading this right now can do is invite a friend or neighbor to a planting. That’s certainly what got me in.