A Living Memorial and a Model for Community Engagement

MLK Blvd. in South L.A., 1990 and 2008

On January 15, 1990, three thousand people came out to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by planting 400 trees along the entire length of MLK Boulevard in South Los Angeles–seven miles in a single day. At this event, organized by TreePeople, each tree was named in memory of someone, and then adopted by a neighboring resident committed to its ongoing care. The result is the largest living monument to Dr. King in existence.

The idea for this monument came from a TreePeople Citizen Forester named Eudora Russell, who for years had dreamed of turning the barren stretch of King Boulevard into a fitting memorial to its namesake.… Read more >>

Grow a Food Forest in a Food Desert

Fruit Tree load-up, photo: Amanda Keller Konya

The term “food desert” describes an urban community that lacks access to fresh, healthy food in local shops and grocery stores. These are regions in our city where, for various reasons, neighborhood retailers can’t or don’t stock produce and healthful alternatives to processed fast food.

In Inglewood’s “100 Seeds of Change” initiative, residents have taken health matters into their own hands, growing fruits and vegetables themselves—and in temperate Los Angeles, they can turn even a small patch of earth into a food forest.… Read more >>

Two Native Plants for Your Southern California Garden

Photo courtesy of weedingwildsuburbia.com

Now is a perfect time to grow your garden green. While other parts of the world are snow-covered and frigid, Southern California’s mild, wet winters make this season ideal for planting climate-friendly natives that provide habitat for our native fauna. Here are two beautiful California evergreen shrubs to check out and add to your weekend plans.

Twin Peaks 2 Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis; native evergreen shrub; 3’ tall by 8’ wide; full sun)

This shrub makes a great undulating groundcover.… Read more >>

Building resilient communities one tree–and many neighbors–at a time

Neighbors planting trees in Rose Avenue. Photo: Juan Villegas

Want to know how to survive the next natural disaster? Think community and good neighbors, not concrete barricades and security guards, as Eric Klinenberg recently recommended. Klinenberg says in an NPR interview,  “In light of the risk we face with climate change, I sincerely hope that we invest in the social infrastructure. Because when a real disaster strikes, it’s the social stuff that might make the difference between life and death.” At TreePeople we’ve been building resilient communities one tree at a time for more than 40 years through programs designed specifically to connect people with each other through environmental stewardship.… Read more >>

Vote for a local school’s environmental initiatives and send students to the mountains to restore fire-damaged forest

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Starting January 9, students from 17 Los Angeles area middle and high schools will compete in TreeByTree, a social media campaign to win a field trip to help restore fire-damaged wilderness. You can support them by logging on to Facebook over the next five weeks and voting as often as once a day for your favorite environmental initiatives these students are spearheading.

TreePeople and Southern California Edison (SCE) have partnered in creating TreeByTree to support environmental stewardship among local youth.… Read more >>

How Did Hollywood Get Its Name?

Heteromeles arbutifolia, or toyon. Photo: docentjoyce

Legend has it that early residents of SoCal were so inspired by a lovely holly-like bush that they were inspired to call their new digs Hollywood. The shrub that captured their imagination was the toyon, which is amazing to see this time of year.

In fact, the name Hollywood was coined by H. J. Whitley, the “Father of Hollywood.” Whitely bought 500 acres from E. C. Hurd; Hurd’s wife’s friend (stay with me here), Daeida Wilcox, co-opted the name “Hollywood” from her neighbor, Ivar Weid, who lived in what was then called Holly Canyon.… Read more >>

Come Howl at the Moon with TreePeople!

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In Los Angeles, we’re lucky we can get outside day and night, all year around. Celebrate our favorable climate by joining us for our last Moonlight Hike of 2012–tonight, Friday, December 28, at 6:30 p.m. It’s a family-friendly adventure that starts at TreePeople’s headquarters and explores the nighttime views and sounds of Coldwater Canyon Park. And, no kidding, you will be invited to howl at the moon.

The 45-minute hikes are moderately paced and guided by members of TreePeople’s education staff.… Read more >>

After Christmas, What to Do with Your Tree?

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Did you opt for a real Christmas tree this year? A lot of us grapple with the choice between real and fake, weighing the proverbial environmental impact of one vs. the other. One dilemma people face with a real tree is, what do I do with it after the holidays?

Mulch it! While your tree was alive, it benefited the planet, and it can continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Chipping up your tree is a great way to create vital organic matter that is ideal to put on top of the soil–similar to a natural forest.… Read more >>

A Native Re-Greening for TreePeople’s Cistern

Photo: Andy Lipkis

Park operations director Jim Hardie calls it the “grasscrete circle”—also known as the TreePeople cistern, a 216,000-gallon underground storage tank, where we save rainwater filtered and collected from rooftops and the Parking Grove. The stored water irrigates TreePeople’s grounds in the warm months. For the past four years, the circle has been planted with wildflowers, which look gorgeous but require regular weeding. Jim is excited about a low-maintenance alternative called purple needlegrass or Stipa pulchra or Nassala pulchra—the official state grass of California!… Read more >>

The Soil Solution

Soil is the key to life in the urban forest

Soil is as vital to environmental health as the plants that grow in it. If you watched the latest Ken Burns documentary, The Dust Bowl, or if your forebears settled in California because they had to flee the ruined soil of the Midwest, then you know what Burns means by “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” It was a swift, government-encouraged depletion of previously fertile cropland, where nature and people had once cooperated fairly well.

Likewise, when we pave every patch of green in our cities, we undo the perfect systems that nature takes so long to create.… Read more >>