Guest Post: Get Out There and Hug a Tree Today!
April 27th, 2012
Guest post from Kate Luckert Schmid,Community Foundation Program Director
Arbor Day is the perfect time to stop and take notice of the tremendous value trees have on our community. While the beauty of a tree is evident, only recently has research begun to prove the lifetime benefits of a tree on our environment, our health, and our economy. In fact, recent estimates have suggested that the current 35% tree canopy in the City of Grand Rapids provides over $372,000,000 in benefits from reduced storm water runoff and increased air quality alone.
The Community Foundation is excited to support local effort to increase our urban tree canopy to 40% - requiring at least another 185,000 trees to be planted and cared for. In order to have a thriving urban forest we are going to need extensive community support and action. Since only about 5% of the available planting spots are on property owned by the City, the majority of trees will need to be planted on private property. This is where you and I come in!
We are starting with a two year grant to the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks which will afford them the opportunity to launch the Urban Forest Project – a multi-faceted effort to provide opportunities for people of all ages to get engaged in growing our urban canopy. The Urban Forest Project is developing a web resource center for all things tree-related, a crowd-sourced tree inventory, and multiple events to encourage tree planting and care. We encourage you to think about ways to involve others you are connected with – maybe your neighbors, classmates, church, or employer.
Tools and resources to help build the long term vitality of our urban forest are on the way. So, stay tuned for ways that you can help ensure an even greener Arbor Day in Grand Rapids’ future!
News at the ground level! The Rapidian is all about our community!
April 16th, 2012
My dad was an editor extraordinaire. He was a valued employee at The Detroit News for more than 45 years starting as a carrier and climbing the ladder to become the highly regarded Sports Editor retiring in 1979. His words of wisdom over the years still ring in my ears as he valued good writing and knew that the role of an editor was to make good stories even better! (He would say, "Win is NOT a noun! I wish headline writers would stop using that word as if it was!")
With this as my personal backdrop, I listened to Roberta King, this Community Foundation's Vice-President for PR and Marketing, as she made the case for submitting a proposal to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of an initiative involving community foundations across the country entitled the Community Information Challenge a few years back providing an incentive for local level communications.
My initial reaction was - "so what impact will this really make and don't we have enough on our plates already?" If anyone knows Roberta, you know that this is more of an invitation to create the best and not be deterred by a boss that may not quite "get it" thank heavens!
Enter Laurie Cirivello the president of Grand Rapids Community Media Center. She has been a tremendous asset to the greater Grand Rapids area continuing to implement the broad vision of the late Dirk Koning. Roberta knew that if anyone could help design an effort, that Laurie was the just the person to do so. Many design meetings were held in our conference room, ideas galore were generated landing on the plan that ultimately birthed The Rapidian. The Knight Foundation agreed that this idea had legs and gave us a grant!
From the beginning, the community participated in growing the idea into reality. As Holly Bechiri, The Rapidian's Managing Editor notes: "Beginning April 16th, an Education Week will kick off [a] fund drive as we learn more about why we as a community need to embrace and support the news coming from our own citizens. Partnering rather than competing with local media outlets, The Rapidian instead gives citizens the opportunity to be involved with the changing landscape of media."
Encouraging people at the neighborhood level to provide their take on issues facing our community and new opportunities for growth, The Rapidian has grown in importance in the past two and a half years. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation also proudly provided seed funding to bring this idea to fruition.
Now it's time to provide the opportunity for our community to financially support this on the ground, hyperlocal news source! A great development actually - a move for sustainability. While this blog isn't usually a place that reaches out to ask for financial support for the many worthwhile causes in our area, I am making an exception and asking for your consideration to support The Rapidian powered by the Community Media Center. "Join me in supporting The Rapidian: the hyperlocal news source powered by the people of Grand Rapids!" Visit The Rapidian website to learn more about this fund drive and the great services being provided! http://therapidian.org