By Matt Bloise
Santa Barbara, CA (October 25, 2009)- Goleta is no strangers to trees – they can be found in parks and on city sidewalks and even in the middle of the road – but that doesn’t mean a few more wouldn’t hurt. On Saturday, a group of more than 100 volunteers, mostly college students, gave up portions of their day to plant trees for affordable housing units in Goleta. The project was being led by Goleta Valley Beautiful, an organization designed to enhance the city with a more natural look and makes a yearly goal of planting 500 trees.
They received help from the Home Depot Foundation, whose mission is to create healthy and affordable housing for working families in communities, and the Alliance for Community Trees, an international group that has planted more than 14.9 million trees throughout 40 states and in Canada. These two groups provided a $10,000 grant to Goleta Valley Beautiful, one of only ten grants awarded in a very competitive field for this year, to plant more trees in an urban environment. This funding will be enough to plant hundreds of trees, 77 of which have already been put in place at Sandpiper Golf Club, Stork Ranch Apartments and Habitat for Humanity.
Saturday was special for many participants of the project because, in contrast to other tree-planting projects they were being installed in Positano Apartments, an affordable living housing project. To celebrate young people reaching out to their community, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf participated in the activities and a representative from Congresswoman Lois Capps’ office was on-hand to read a letter of thanks. Ms. Wolf thanked the participants for making Goleta a more beautiful place to live, and especially for reaching out in a struggling community with a helping hand. She ended with a word of thanks to Goleta Valley Beautiful. “You have done so much for the Goleta Valley, to make it green and beautiful,” she said. “You are the jewel of Goleta.”
Ken Knight, the executive director for Goleta Valley Beautiful, also thanked the volunteers from the morning session while preparing for the afternoon. He expressed his enthusiasm for trees in how they can change an environment in both perceptible and imperceptible ways. He cited what trees can do by providing more oxygen and pulling out pollutants from the air, thereby keeping temperatures down in cities. Trees that shed their leaves with the winter are the best, he said, for energy uses. They will keep the sunlight out in the summer by providing shade, and will allow light to pass through in the winter when the leaves have fallen.
The benefit of planting these trees now, he said, is that by the time many of the volunteers are adults, they can begin to enjoy the trees they planted here. “First of all, you don’t just plant a tree. You need someone to take care of it. Most of the kids who are planting trees are the ones who will be able to enjoy it. We’re planting for tomorrow. We want a tree we plant to last for the next 100 years.” Mr. Knight also said the importance of trees is how they can create a bit of nature in an otherwise urban world, which is a unique gift that we can pass down to our children. “The trees are an important part of the infrastructure of the city. Imagine if there were no more trees!” He said. “We need a thriving urban forest. We know that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.”
Trees Planted for Goleta’s Future
Goleta Valley Beautiful