Magazine article American Forests

Dig It Coast to Coast: American Forests and Timberland Team Up to Plant Trees in a Cross-Country Effort to Increase Awareness about the Need for Urban Forests

Magazine article American Forests

Dig It Coast to Coast: American Forests and Timberland Team Up to Plant Trees in a Cross-Country Effort to Increase Awareness about the Need for Urban Forests

Article excerpt

What do AMERICAN FORESTS and Timberland have in common? They both realize the importance of urban trees. While you can always find a number of reasons to plant a tree just about anywhere, trees bring some special benefits to urban areas.

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Trees will cool the ambient temperatures in the city, reducing emissions. They also shade buildings, keeping them cool and reducing the need for air conditioning, which lowers expenses for residents as well as the amount of fossil fuels used in producing electricity to run AC. Trees also create a windbreak for buildings and can reduce heating costs by 10-15%. Urban forests purify water and air, cutting back on pollution like smog, which plagues most big cities. Green areas full of trees, like city parks, are also proven to reduce stress and encourage physical activity, which promote better health and longer life expectancy. These green spaces can also give a sense of community to the most neglected neighborhood, providing a place to gather socially. The list could go on and on.

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Ultimately, trees can be incredibly valuable assets to any urban area. This is why, when Timberland, wanting to launch its new, eco-friendly Earthkeepers clothing collection with a bang, teamed up with AMERICAN FORESTS to plant trees in urban neighborhoods across the country that were in great need of more trees.

The event, called Earthkeepers Dig It, brought together an unexpected mix of contributors in each city. These included people and organizations from the corporate world, national and local non-profits, local agencies, musicians and other artists, and communities. The local non-profit groups in each city were all members of the Alliance for Community Trees, which is dedicated to tree planting and education in urban areas.

At each event, local volunteers worked through the day to plant trees in an environmentally neglected corner of the city, and then rocked out by night to a free concert with Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam, The Hank Khoir, and Vince Mira. Also at the events was world-renowned environmental photographer James Balog, whose images have graced these very pages. He presented his projects and images on global warming and eco-related issues such as retreating glaciers, deforestation, and changes in animal migration. As Dig It traveled the country, it spread an awareness of how important environmental issues are, even in the city, and how everyone can find a way to contribute.

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The journey started in Boston, Massachusetts. On October 1, 2008, 250 volunteers came out to the Boston Nature Center (BNC) to plant hundreds of trees. Orchestrating the event was a local community-based nonprofit called Earthworks Projects. Earthworks' mission is to strengthen communities through environmental service by planting and maintaining urban orchards, urban forests, and outdoor classrooms and education programs.

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The Boston Nature Center, on the grounds of the former Boston State Hospital in the Mattapan neighborhood, is considered the area's last remaining "green oasis." Though only 67 of the original 200 acres remain, the BNC still constitutes 20% of the green space in Mattapan. Consensus is that the 331 trees added on October 1 have already greatly improved the neighborhood.

Thomas Menino, mayor of Boston, expressed his excitement about the project during his speech at the event. Also in attendance was Jim Hunt, head of the City Environment Department. Menino's dedication to increasing urban tree cover throughout the city can be seen in his involvement with the Grow Boston Greener Initiative, which aims to plant 100,000 trees by the year 2020. Dig It Boston was a small step in reaching that goal.

Some volunteers were so enthusiastic about the planting that they didn't realize who was working alongside them. The event hosted several celebrities who were not at all hesitant to get their hands dirty. …

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