TreeKeepers

(Washington, DC) D.C. Greenworks’ NeighborWoods-supported TreeKeepers program addresses the widespread need for improved outdoor environments in low-income, minority neighborhoods like Shaw, Anacostia, and Trinidad.


Category: Community Development
Overview
Community tree planting and tree workshops have been great ways for D.C. Greenworks to unite, built trust, and encourage stewardship among diverse groups of people living in the same neighborhood who do not normally have a reason to meet and interact.
Improving neighborhood environments includes reducing crime and trash and increasing economic opportunity, pedestrian traffic, and community pride. For precisely this reason, they focus on street trees. Not only do street trees have the potential to catalyze multiple environmental and economic benefits for dynamic urban neighborhoods, but also they hold enormous social value by serving as a symbol of community investment. After all, it is community ownership that will ultimately sustain any meaningful neighborhood improvement.
Background
D.C. Greenworks is an environmental, technical assistance organization, and, as such, all of our staff is deeply knowledgeable about forestry, landscaping and horticulture. We have a licensed arborist on staff, and all program staff have four-year degrees (and sometimes advanced degrees) in forestry, landscape, horticulture, environmental science, and the like.
D.C. Greenworks also works to facilitate ample opportunities for improving yards, streetscapes, and vacant lots; for turning abandoned spaces into gardens, orchards, or playgrounds; for putting a tree in front of every house; even for improving native diversity, wildlife habitat, soil conditions and soil permeability.
Components
As part of membership, each TreeKeeper receives the training and resources they need to provide basic maintenance to every tree they plant and adopt. TreeKeeper volunteers to work directly and solely in the communities in which they live. In order to best foster a sense of community stewardship and pride, volunteers who live outside of the communities served are not typically brought in. D.C. Greenworks actively recruits TreeKeeper members all year long, although much of the program sustains itself through word-of-mouth.
Results
Through one year’s efforts of TreeKeepers, D.C. Greenworks was able to accomplish the following:
* Improved tree health and increase community stewardship of trees, including the planting and maintaing of 185 new trees over 12 events.
* Broadened understanding of inner-city community-based forestry as a successful tool for community participation, environmental improvement, job development and community building.
* Engaged 146 volunteers and enrolled 16 new TreeKeeper communities.
Lessons Learned
1. Recruit neighborhood leaders and/or the local community development corporation as a partner.
2. Be patient (you’re not always preaching to the choir).
Contact Information:
Dawn Gifford
Executive Director
D.C. Greenworks
1701 6th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: 202-518-6195
Fax: 202-518-6115