He saw the light, and now he’s planting trees

By Erika D. Smith
Indianapolis, IN (September 8, 2011)- By day, he’s a certified public accountant with Crowe Horwath LLP. By early evening and sometimes by early morning, he’s a one-man tree-planting machine. He’s Captain Planet! Just kidding. He’s David Feinberg, an Indianapolis man who was once so annoyed by environmentalists that he would go out of his way not to recycle. I’m talking deliberately bypassing recycling bins for the trash.

30 trees in 30 days: wishtv.com

Yet for reasons loosely tied to his love of a TV show (OK, not the cheesy 1990s cartoon “Captain Planet and the Planeteers”), he’s decided to plant a tree in a different Indianapolis neighborhood every day this month. It’s an odd project, but it proves that anyone with a little time, money and gumption can do something to improve his or her community. For the small things that can make a big impact, there’s no need to wait for help.
“I like to refer to myself as a born-again environmentalist,” Feinberg said while digging a hole in an Eastside neighborhood Tuesday. Next to him, a 5-foot-tall American Hornbeam tree, also known as an Ironwood, lay sprawled on the ground. It was tiny compared with the trees around it, but its new home on North DeQuincy Street seemed appropriate. “This block is missing one,” he said.
Feinberg has taken an odd path from green heathen to green glorifier. It began about five years ago, when a friend who was in the Peace Corps came to stay with him and his wife, Maureen Keller, for a short time. Feinberg suddenly found himself outnumbered. His wife and his friend were both big defenders of the environment. Before long, he found himself watching former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Feinberg was a changed man. He planted a garden in his backyard and began composting. But that wasn’t enough. One day, his favorite reality TV show, “30 Days,” gave him an idea. In the show, people spend 30 days doing something they’ve never done before, whether it’s working for minimum wage or living as a Muslim. “I loved that idea,” he said, “so I said I’m going to bring all of this together.”
Feinberg’s first challenge: become a vegetarian for a month. He figured it was a worthy green goal because it takes more water and other resources to produce meat for consumption than to grow vegetables. His second challenge: become a locavore — or localvore — for a month. For the uninitiated, that means he used only products made in Indiana for one month. I’m talking everything from locally grown food to locally made deodorant to gas from Greenfield’s GasAmerica. The only products he couldn’t find were salt and hair gel.
And now Feinberg is on to his third challenge: plant a tree every day for a month. He made use of his contacts at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to persuade the nonprofit to supply all 30 trees, most of which are of species native to Indiana. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful also helped narrow a list of locations for the trees based on various social and economic factors. So if you see a guy with dark hair and glasses planting a tree on the Near Eastside, in Herron-Morton or along Binford Boulevard, that’s Feinberg.
“It takes about a half-hour to plant a tree,” he said. “I read somewhere that people spend 30 minutes a day on Facebook. Plant a tree instead.” Or, as Captain Planet would say: “The power is yours!”
Related Resources:
Indianapolis Star- He saw the light, and now he’s planting trees
30 Trees in 30 Days
Indianapolis man will plant 30 trees in 30 days the month of September
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful