34. Imagine the ideal community forest

To create the ideal community forest, we must have a thorough knowledge of how things are and a clear vision of how we want things to be. This effort demands collaboration between citizens, local government, community-based organizations, tree and landscaping businesses, other green industries, and research scientists.

Areas of Interest: Connecting to Government, Looking Around, Thinking, Investigating, Walking
Ingredients: Local government support, vision of an extraordinary forest
Directions: Write a short proposal of your initiative. Explain what you would like to do, who should ideally be involved, why these actions should be taken, and what the benefits could be. Speak to people who may be interested and who clearly hold a stake in the health of your urban forest. Invite people to form a steering committee.
Review urban forestry assessments from other cities and, if possible, contact people who coordinated those efforts. Work with your steering committee to identify the key areas needing assessment.1 Assign subcommittees to key areas. As you progress, continue to recruit and involve as many people as possible.
Create a task list for each subcommittee. When each subcommittee has completed its tasks and prepared a written report, build the combined committee reports into a single report. (This task may require a new committee to be formed or may be completed by the existing steering committee.)
When your report is complete, move to the next step. Having identified your city’s urban forest strengths and deficits, work with local officials to create a Master Treescape Plan. Use the same subcommittee approach to identify strategies for meeting the urban forest’s needs. Your challenge is to find the balance between being ambitious (big plans yield big results) and being realistic (your participants’ need to experience success from their work). The trees in your city, along with generations to come, will thank you for your efforts.