At the end of June, it will be one year since the Enrichmond Board unexpectedly voted to dissolve itself, leaving Richmond Tree Stewards and 85 other partner organizations to fend for themselves with no access to their funds. Some of those group disappeared, unable to recover; others went dormant, waiting to see whether their funds might be restored at some point. Many others, like RTS, continued with their mission, emerging stronger if not richer than they were before the dissolution.
When the Enrichmond Accountability Project was formed last fall, we had two major objectives: secure the return of our funds (if possible), and, ensure that the individual(s) responsible were held accountable.
Concerning the first objective, it seems highly unlikely that any of the partner organizations will ever see their funds again. All of us (well, most of us) suspected from the outset that there were no remaining liquid assets at Enrichmond. However, until decisions are made concerning certain properties held by Enrichmond, we can’t definitively say that this first objective is dead.
That brings us to the second objective: accountability. Again, it is too soon to know if this objective will be met, but there are encouraging signs. First, the Virginia Attorney General’s office is investigating the Enrichmond collapse to determine if any crime was committed. Second, and separately, the FBI is investigating the collapse to determine if any Federal statutes were broken. Both are ongoing investigations and, as such, the agencies will not comment on them. So stay tuned.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to tell that anything has changed at Richmond Tree Stewards. Our pruning crews are still working twice a week alongside Urban Forestry personnel to prune trees in neighborhoods across Richmond. Invasive removal and native planting work on Belle Isle continues weekly, often with volunteer groups (occasionally large) from local corporations or organizations. In June we will graduate our largest group ever of new Tree Stewards, and in September we will once again hold a 10-week class for the next group of Stewards. Our gravel beds are planted with 200 seedlings, busily growing their root systems in preparation for transplanting this fall. And plans are proceeding for the October give-away of another 2,000 native trees to area homeowners.
The bottom line? Regardless of future developments concerning our former fiscal sponsor, RTS is here for the long haul.
President, Richmond Tree Stewards