A tree walk around the block

A few locust trees here, plus a maple, maybe?

Last weekend I went out with Liz Barry and Planning Corps for a test run of the methodology that Liz and a group of other ecologists, mappers, and designers are developing for the 2015 street tree census. As Liz explained to me, street trees are part of our city's urban infrastructure, and the more that we know about them and their mini-habitat, the more that we can develop other systems to complement the existing system, such as bioswales, stormwater management, etc. Makes perfect sense.

Liz and I paired up and started down the block. We were quickly outpaced by the other groups, because it turns out that Liz loves talking to people* and nearly every tree was in more or less in the custody of the building which it fronted. We wouldn't even get to the next tree without a resident coming out to ask us what we were doing. We heard about the love of trees; the love of birds in the trees; the love of the genus of trees, but not of tree stewardship itself; and the ultimate story, requited love of high school sweethearts after 40 years of being apart. And I in turn learned to ID trees, something I used to be able to do but lost along the way.

It was a lovely afternoon. Something about being on the street and physically engaging with it. Something about grabbing hold about the details about the place where you live. We literally had to hug each tree to measure its circumference. Also, I thought a lot about scale and how to engage people to make this tree survey happen. The 1995 (is that the last one?) survey relied on volunteers. What will the 2015 survey entail? How will it dovetail with One Million Trees? I'm sure they're already working on it, but much more to come.

*It turns out that Liz and I might have been fated to meet each other. I realized much later that she was briefly profiled here years ago for one of her earlier projects, Talk to Me.


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Best regards, Andres