Trees, philanthropy and community

This is the red chestnut that we planted last fall in front of our house through the Providence Neighborhood Planting Program. My wonderful neighbor Anisa Raoof took it upon herself to recruit a group of neighbors who, in exchange for receiving free street trees, agreed Red Chestnut Treeto help plant, water and nurture them.

In October, neighbors assembled with shovels, rakes and hoses to work with the City Forester and crew to plant 16 new trees up and down our street. Kind of like a barn raising, only for trees.

Half of the cost of the trees is paid for by the city. The other half comes from the Mary Elizabeth Sharpe Street Tree Endowment. Through the commitment of the late Mary Elizabeth Sharpe and her environmentalist daughter-in-law Peggy Sharpe, Providence has one of the most progressive street tree planting programs in the country.

The street tree program is brilliant. The tantalizing offer of free street trees brings neighbors together in a collaborative effort that is the best of urban community. With each tree planted, the city moves closer to its goal of a 30% canopy cover (up from its current 26%) by 2020. And all of us benefit from the beauty, shade, lower utility bills, interception of storm water, cleaner air and wonderful birds and other wildlife that trees bring us. Plus, trees boost the property value of homes by up to 10%.

So each time I look at my beautiful new red chestnut, I’ll be reminded of the extraordinary impact that just a few people.. through their philanthropy, community partnership and general neighborliness … have made possible.

Happy watering,


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