It's finally spring...or at least warm enough for trees! While it may still be a few degrees below average and one of the colder springs we've had in a while, it's time to start planting trees!
This April and May, members from the LUFA team will be heading down to Northwest Indiana nearly every Saturday to plant trees with the Student Conservation Association's (SCA) Calumet Tree Conservation Corps, which is part of the grant-funded CommuniTree program. CommuniTree and SCA are in the midst of a multi-year effort to plant thousands of trees on public properties and post-industrial brownfield lands in order to provide benefits to the people and ecosystems of the cities of Gary, Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago as well as surrounding communities.
Not only will we be planting trees in parks, golf courses, along streets, and in other public spaces, but LUFA is also conducting a survey of the volunteers that show up to these tree planting events. This is part of the CommuniTree Program Evaluation research being conducted by Dr. Jess Vogt & LUFA students. We're trying to learn more about the types of people that volunteer, how they find out about the event, and what motivates people to come out and plant trees, in order to evaluate the outcomes of grant-funded tree planting for people and ecosystems, as well as help CommuniTree (in only its second year) improve their programming.
At these tree planting events, we're conducting our version of participatory-action research, where LUFA team members attend the event not only in our capacity as researchers to learn, observe, and collect data, but also as full participants in the tree planting activities itself. We get our hands dirty planting trees right along side the SCA crew members and volunteers from the community! See the photographic evidence below from recent plantings in Gary, IN.
For the April 7th planting at IU Northwest, we (Jess, LUFA research assistant Mimi Payne and ENV freshman Tyler Bogartz-Brown) joined the SCA crew, USFS's Drew Hart, SCA's Daiva Gylys, and a large group of volunteers from IUN, the Calumet Artist Residency, Girl Trek, and many more (42 people in total!) to plant 52 trees along Broadway St. This past Saturday, April 20 we were at Washington/Reed Park where we planted 20 trees with the small-but-mighty group consisting of the 4-person Calumet crew and SCA staff CM Tena, plus myself (Jess), LUFA RAs Kaitlyn Pike and Becca Brokaw, and ENV sophomore Taylor Gold). For both dates - and all Saturday tree plantings this season - the day was led by the fantastic 4-member SCA Calumet Tree Conservation Corps: crew leader BreShaun and crew members Joe, Jerome, and Jasmine.
Follow along with the spring CommuniTree activities at the Calumet Tree Conservation Corps Facebook page, the CommuniTree Facebook page, and the SCA Chicago Midwest Facebook page. We'll also keep posting updates and more pictures here at the LUFA blog (and next fall, tune in for the results of the research we're conducting with CommuniTree).
And...come join us some Saturday down in Indiana!
It's the end of fall quarter here at DePaul, which means the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and winter break are upon us. The ink on grades is still drying, and it's a time to slow down and reflect a bit on the learning of the past ten weeks. I'd like to share with you a thoughtful end-of-quarter course reflection, written by Declan McInerney, a student in my ENV 151 Intro to Sustainability class.
Before this course, the word sustainability brought images of dirty hippies living on vegan communes in huts made from recycled garbage. That’s not to say that it’s not an image I could get behind, but my feelings were that sustainability was reserved for those living on the fringes of society. Through this course I’ve come to realize that sustainability is actually something all of us should be thinking about and striving for. In fact, we don’t even have to sacrifice our urban lifestyle to do so. Sustainability is not about retreating to caveman technology in order to save the planet. Quite the opposite, sustainability is about redefining our relationship to technology and compensating our society for the needs of the planet. This doesn’t mean running off to the woods and becoming feral; it means constructing urban gardens, developing more efficient systems, utilizing new technologies and designing smarter products. Sustainability appears to be the wave of the future and I’m excited to ride it!
Well said, Declan. And happy sustainable holidays everyone!
Jess Vogt, Assistant Professor, Env. Science & Studies, DePaul University