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 >>

South L.A. Parents Learn to “Prune” Back Asphalt and Bring Nature to Urban School Yards

Linda Eremita demonstrates pruning techniques at San Pedro Elementary. Photo: Neil Sashidharan

On a typical hot, smoggy Los Angeles school day, hundreds of children at South L.A. schools no longer have to broil in unshaded asphalt-covered school yards. Through TreePeople’s School Greening Initiative, South L.A. parents are being trained and supported to transform their children’s campuses into shadier, leafier, cooler—even food-producing—places to learn and play.

In early December, 25 area parents attended a half-day TreePeople workshop at San Pedro Elementary School—one of L.A.’s oldest and most urban campuses. There they learned how to prune fruit trees and organize community tree care teams to nurture the trees in their neighborhoods.… Read more >>