Growing Stronger Communities

For the nearly 200 local organizations nationwide that together constitute the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT), the ultimate benefit of trees is their remarkable capacity to improve a community. Planting new trees will beautify a neighborhood, boost property values, reduce energy bills, and provide many other economic and environmental benefits for the neighborhood and its residents.  But the tree planting itself has a dramatic social effect on the community, and local tree organizations are holding thousands of these planting events each year.


Let’s zoom in from a satellite overview of a city’s canopy cover and look at what happens on ground level at a neighborhood tree planting. Take a look at the young girl who has never planted anything before, has rarely considered the little green space around her housing complex, and now plants a tree in front of her family’s unit, outside her bedroom window, and gives it a name, and waters it, and watches it grow. Check out the boy scout who is earning his Eagle badge by helping to coordinate this event.  See the couple who met years ago while volunteering for this same organization, and now bring their young son to plant alongside them.  See the elderly resident who noticed the activity out the window and brings down a pitcher of lemonade for the sweaty volunteers.  Watch the first-time homeowner who just moved in, and note how she digs in with pride, thrilled about the leafy new addition to her new home, full of gratitude towards the friends and neighbors who are helping her plant her tree.

All of these are true scenes from plantings staged by community tree groups. These specific moments are from North Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, California, and Iowa, but the same scenes are taking place at plantings all around the country. They show us what urban forestry looks like at its best: when it is creating a deeply personal experience, weaving social connections across a neighborhood, inspiring a collective sense of accomplishment, and imparting undeniable aesthetic beauty and sustainability to the landscape. Strengthening and beautifying communities—physically and psychologically, as well as economically and environmentally—is the higher achievement of urban forestry groups around the country.

The Vibrant Cities and Urban Forests Task Force is composed of leaders from all sectors who understand first-hand the great potential of urban forestry for improving communities. They’ll use this experience to educate leaders in Washington and across our nation about the importance of tree planting and stewardship in our cities and the need for their support of the growth of urban forests. What’s an ideal outcome?

Share your thoughts with us, here.

Leland Milstein
Program Director, Alliance for Community Trees

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