Engaging Communities
Once a modest family business, Timberland has grown into a fairly big company—and we owe a lot of our success to the people and places around the world where we set up shop. That’s why engaging citizens, employees, and consumers through community service has always been a priority for us.




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Earth Day is quickly approaching and Timberland is excited to celebrate for the 15th consecutive year by participating in community greening and revitalization projects in over 20 countries across the globe. Last year Timberland employees completed more than 145 service projects, generating more than 25,000 hours of service, positively impacting communities worldwide. Timberland’s commitment to corporate responsibility is rooted in community service; the brand has worked passionately to create positive and sustainable impacts in communities for over 20 years.

This year Timberland is celebrating Earth Day by directing over 110 community service projects from New Hampshire and New York City to London and Hong Kong. Some this year’s Earth Day projects include:

New York City: Partnering with the group Concrete Safaris of East Harlem, 40-50 Timberland employees will work with children 8-12 years old to plant, mulch, and renovate the program’s many educational gardens. Concrete Safaris is an after school program that works with children to promote healthy living and an active lifestyle. Volunteers will also lead the children on a scenic bicycle ride through the boroughs of New York.

Zhuhai, China: Timberland’s Zhuhai office is working with employees from the Pou Yuen Factory at an event where over 130 volunteers will work to re-green the local riverside park by planting 100 new trees, as well as working to paint, decorate, and renovate the local children’s community center. This event is a unique opportunity for Timberland employees to team up with the employees of the Pou Yuen factory, and work alongside their families and children as well.

London, England: 45 volunteers will serve with the Rushmore Primary School, working on a project to renovate and improve the children’s playground area. The team will renovate the gardening and landscaping around the playground perimeter, build an outdoor area for the children to create artwork, and renovate the educational garden where students can plant fruits and vegetables. This project is a collaborative event with our partners from Timberland’s International Design Center.

Timberland HQ Stratham, NH: Over 300 employees from Timberland’s world headquarters will be participating in six events in the local surrounding area. Events include building a playground at the Monarch School for children with disabilities, tree planting and re-greening of a local dog park, building workbenches and painting at two local summer camps and after school teen centers, as well as sewing teddy bears from environmentally conscious materials that will be given to children in need.

Timberland’s commitment to Earth Day as an annual celebration of service to our planet, allows for unique opportunities to work with our partners year after year. In 2012 Timberland employees built 125 wooden bird houses for the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, 25 of which will be newly installed at the Great Bay Nature Conservancy this upcoming Earth Day.

“We always try to pick a diversity of projects and locations for our service events, to accommodate the skills and abilities of all of our employees” said Brianne Wood, Community Service Manager at Timberland. “Events always include both outdoor and indoor activities so that every employee has the opportunity to participate and contribute in their own way.”

Robert Gibbons, a newly hired Interactive Developer, recently participated in Timberland’s New Employee Day of Service at a local New Hampshire food pantry. “It was great to work alongside the pantry’s volunteers and get to see how appreciative they were of everything we were able to accomplish that afternoon” said Robert. “I am looking forward to getting the chance to serve again during our Earth Day celebration in a couple weeks.”

With Earth Day quickly approaching, the Timberland team is working to put together the final pieces of the 110 events taking place worldwide. Earth Day is an employee driven effort that is managed worldwide by our volunteer team of Global Stewards and other passionate employees in each Timberland location. This Earth Day, Timberland employees are projected to contribute over 18,500 hours of service to their local communities, helping to make a positive and sustainable impact all over the globe. “I am looking forward to a great showing this year and the smiles on everybody’s faces after seeing the work that we’ve accomplished at the end of the day,” said Wood. “I’m so grateful that Timberland gives us such a wonderful opportunity for us to give back to our local communities and it is amazing to see how much we can achieve together.”

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Look at an aerial view of Hispaniola—the two-nation island that contains the Dominican Republic and Haiti—and the border between the countries is startlingly obvious. On the Dominican side, lush, green forests carpet the hills. On the Haitian side, a barren, brown landscape stretches into the distance. With only 2.2% of its forests remaining, Haiti was a perfect candidate for Timberland’s ambitious tree-planting initiative.

In 2010 Timberland set a global goal of planting 5 million trees by 2015. Timberland’s tree planting project in Haiti supports this goal, specifically aiming to create a self-sustaining agro-forestry model that will result in agricultural improvement, environmental restoration, and improved wellbeing for participating farmers.

“We saw a strong need for restoring the environment in Haiti,” says Margaret Morey-Reuner, Timberland’s senior manager of global brand value marketing. “We wanted to help reverse the pattern of deforestation in a sustainable manner. Our goal was to provide the seed funding for a network of nurseries that would be self-sustaining in 36 to 48 months.”

To accomplish this, Timberland partnered with Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), an organization dedicated to improving lives in Haiti through a combination of forestry and agriculture. According to SFA president Hugh Locke, Timberland’s approach is somewhat unique.

“With Timberland, we’ve found a true partner rather than just a source of funding,” Locke says. “They’re committed to developing the capacity of the farmers and come up with a new approach that would ultimately be self-managed and self-funded.”

Under the Timberland/SFA initiative, farmers grow trees in exchange for better crop seeds, tools, and training. The farmers’ ultimate reward is increased revenue as a result of the sale of excess trees and higher crop yields—as well as the benefit of using the newly planted trees as “living fences” for farmers to protect their land without investing in poles and fencing to maintain them.

With Timberland’s support, SFA oversees the program in conjunction with agronomist Timote George, the former Haiti country director of an organization called Trees for the Future. They chose the area surrounding the city of Gonaïves for a pilot project, which had been devastated by floods in 2008. Success depends on combining agriculture and forestry in a discipline known as agroforestry. That means motivating 2,000 local smallholder farmers to plant and grow the trees.

“From day one, we were rigorously disciplined about the process,” says Locke. That meant allowing the farmers themselves to make all the decisions, from selecting the seed to setting prices. “We had agronomists available to help, but the farmers themselves were the agents in the process,” says Locke.

Three years into the project, Morey-Reuner reports that crop yields are up 40-50% . Due to the crop revenues generated, the farmers are now able to send their children to school and purchase livestock—something they couldn’t afford before. Timberland and SFA are planning a similar cooperative venture in northern Haiti, beginning in July 2013.

As Timberland’s initial pilot in Gonaives begins to deliver sustainable results, its success signals an opportunity to expand the program to other countries. We’re busy planting trees all over the world, on almost every continent where environmental restoration is in need. “Just like the people are ready for change, the environment is ready for change,” says Mark Newton, Timberland’s vice president of corporate social responsibility. “Given a little bit of incentive, local partners, and community engagement, you can do amazing things.”

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Twenty years ago, Timberland created our Path of Service program—a monumental moment that marked the beginning of a rich tradition of service. When the Path of Service program debuted on September 18, 1992, it offered employees up to 16 hours of paid time each year to engage in community service—an unconventional idea at the time. In 1995, the number of paid hours available to employees was raised to 40 hours a year, and by the late 1990s, the company formalized two annual service events designed to make it easy for employees to serve.

In 1997, the company began organizing an annual day of service around Earth Day, in recognition of Timberland as an outdoor brand. The following year, we started a tradition called Serv-a-palooza, Timberland’s own annual celebration of community service.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary, we put our values into action at events around the world, thanks to our team of Global Stewards—passionate employees who volunteer above and beyond their regular job responsibilities to serve as ambassadors of corporate social responsibility. Here are some of the highlights that span the globe:

China: Global Steward Vincent He organized a team that painted a wall in a primary school classroom, while another team treated 60 kindergarteners to an outing in a local park. Many of the children had never been to a park before.

Italy: Global Steward Francesca Vitale organized a two-day service trip for three teams of employees to Cinque Terre on Palmaria Island. Each team worked on different projects, including cleaning beaches, renovating benches along the paths, and repainting an old military fortress.

Japan: Global Steward Shiho Hirasawa’s team spread its celebration across the year, arranging monthly service events from May through November.

Spain: Global Steward Lorena Ibáñez and her teams provided gardening services at a retirement home and prepared a special lunch for students at a sailing school for the disabled.

Taiwan: With the support of Global Steward Marty Shen, Taiwan launched a program that rewards consumers for engaging with Timberland in service—a concept that’s spread to other Timberland locations around the world.

USA: Near our Stratham, New Hampshire global headquarters, community engagement manager Brianne Wood coordinated more than 350 volunteers in this year’s Serv-a-Palooza in three locations. The team helped 25 non-profit organizations by constructing outdoor furniture, creating and restoring over three miles of trails, and knitting winter hats and mittens.

But it doesn’t end with our employees. Our service events have now grown to include Timberland vendors, distributors, supplier factories, consumers, community members, and friends and family. Organizations as diverse as the Hong Chi School in Hong Kong, which serves those with intellectual disabilities; Legambiente, an Italian environmental organization; and the Seacoast Science Center of Rye, New Hampshire, an educational facility near Timberland’s headquarters, all join us in the effort to make a difference in the world.

We are also fortunate that our new parent company, VF Corporation, supports Timberland’s values-driven brand and mission to equip people to make a difference in the communities where they live and work. We look forward to partnering with VF’s Outdoor & Action Sports Coalition to grow our commitment to service beyond our own corporate walls.

As Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement for Timberland, puts it, “What’s so powerful about our service program is the many ripples it creates. As we send people to service sites, their direct impact ripples out to other organizations and the people they serve. Our belief is that when each employee has a service experience, it helps them become more engaged in their own community and on their own time. We hope this year’s 20th anniversary has re-energized our army of service warriors to continue to grow Timberland’s level of service.”

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