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!
Why I can't get too exercised by the Newsweek listing!
January 23rd, 2011Stop it everyone! For heaven's sake! Grand Rapids landed on a list that is contrived by a national magazine that we didn't want to be on. We want to be known as cool, welcoming, hip along with a vibrant economy! Well guess what? We have work to do and our work today is no different than it was before Newsweek published their "Top 10 Dying Cities in the U.S." The title also was "Cities with Bleak Futures Ahead."
So instead of complaining about Newsweek - its intention - whether or not reporters stepped a foot in our city or not - let's do what we do best and prove them wrong! Magazines and their listings are for one purpose only and that is to sell magazines. The local news media, the chatter on Twitter and Facebook complete with a new FB page denouncing the Newsweek Dying Cities list, does exactly what Newsweek wants - more publicity. Their bad news and our reaction to it becomes their money maker.
Face it we do have work to do as a community and we are on the path in doing so. We need a vision that speaks to what we exactly want to be when all is said and done. We need to be more open and accepting. No wait a minute . . . we need to embrace difference and celebrate all people in our community and welcome them. It is not only the right thing to do, it IS the only thing to do. Businesses need to flourish, poverty needs to be alleviated, focus needs to be placed on early childhood education, we need a robust economy and jobs, and frankly the only way we are going to head in the positive direction is if we know where we are going to land. We all can list the indicators that will retain young people, attract all people to our area and so much more!
Don't let this listing define us - we are the ones to define us! I just had to say this and I plan on continuing our work to bring the community together to celebrate our strengths yet define our weaknesses so we can take action accordingly. We know how to do this - it takes philanthropy, government, business, citizens - everyone! Grand Rapids is building a great future and we do have the strength and tenacity to continue our work for better days ahead.