19. Turn parking lots into possibilities

Trees have a powerful ability to transform. We know the role they play in front yards, parks and gardens. Are there other unidentified problems they can solve?

Areas of Interest: Looking Around, Networking, Physical Labor
Ingredients: Sense of what could be a convincing plan, enthusiastic partners
Directions: As you walk, bicycle or drive through your community, begin to notice tree-less areas. An obvious example is in the middle of the street. Where else? Look at parking lots, paved playgrounds, schoolyards, industrial areas, around warehouses, open lots, and apartment complexes. You may be surprised at the areas where everyone has become accustomed to having no trees.
Imagine what one of these areas might look like with trees. Our cars would remain cooler parked under trees. Factory workers would have shade during lunch breaks. Warehouses would consume less energy for air conditioning.
Identify the owner or manager of the particular area. It may be a government official, property owner, store manager or school principal. Determine if someone in your network has a relationship with this person. Set up a meeting and suggest they consider planting trees.
Be prepared to address the issue of cost. Be creative! They may have money in a landscaping budget. Be sure to describe the potential for partnerships, media attention and community involvement. Elementary school students could plant at a factory. A local Rotary Club could volunteer to cut and remove paving in a supermarket parking lot. A landscape architecture firm could donate design work for a street median project.
Once the project moves ahead, be sure the media is alerted.1 Properly publicized, events like this pull all sorts of unexpected people to your efforts.