Posts Tagged ‘trees’

recreating wilderness with reclaimed materials

March 22, 2010

This past weekend, I participated in Urban Wilderness Action Day, part of Eyebeam’s ElectroSmog Festival. My friend Kris & her hubby Pascal put together this little video recapping my role in the day.

Check out some photos of the murals & other forest elements I put together with reclaimed materials and heaps o’ help from some good friends. Birds & abstract fragment

Big hugs and thank yous to everyone who helped (Eric, DeeDee, Marga, Kris, Ian, Lauren) and made it possible (Stephanie & the Eyebeam crew, Materials for the Arts).

why i’m a treehugger

July 20, 2009

Loving a giant cedar, Glacier National Park

Trees are ridiculously important to the continuation of the human species.

This is what trees do for us:
  • Provide us with oxygen to breathe
  • Filter pollutants from the air
  • Filter pollutants from water
  • Create much-needed shade
  • Cool the planet
  • Provide habitat for birds, bugs, squirrels, monkeys, and many other creatures
  • Create nutrients needed for mushrooms to grow (yum!)
  • Improve our mood
  • Increase property value
  • Some even provide food (fruit and nuts)
Yet, what do we do in return?
  • Chop ’em down.
In the short history of the US, we’ve destroyed over 95% of old growth forest. Much of this is to create paper. Paper to write on, to wipe our noses with, to wipe our derrieres with. In this clip, David de Rothschild explores this phenomenon:

So what can you do about it?

  • Reduce your paper use. Tips on how here and here
  • If you do buy paper products, be sure they have high post-consumer recycled content and that they are not chlorine bleached
  • Hug a tree once in a while, it really does feel good!
One last note on tree appreciation. William McDonough said in his TED talk,

Imagine this design assignment – design something that…
Sequesters carbon,
Fixes nitrogen,
Distills water,
Accrues solar energy as fuel,
Makes complex sugars and food,
Creates microclimates,
Changes colors with the seasons,
and Self-replicates.

Why don’t we knock that down and write on it.

If we all stopped to think of trees this way, perhaps there would be more of them around to help us enjoy life as we know it on this planet.

Check out William McDonough’s full TED talk, with lots of other important ideas:

my weekend in pictures

May 18, 2009


The bluebell hyacinths were in full bloom at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Chris Roddick, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s chief arborist, teaches us how to plant companions for street trees in the Trees NY Citizen Pruner course. This clematis will climb the trunk – but care needs to be taken to prevent it from encroaching on the canopy (it’ll deprive the leaves of light and hide potential damage to the tree).

Mulching is a group effort.

A fellow student uses the pole saw to prune an oak tree. Don’t try this without your Citizen Pruner certificate!

You may have to squint, but the leader branches (those at the top) are co-dominant stems, which could be a problem for this tree in the future.

These brilliant azaleas were at the end of their bloom.


After brunch, I brought some friends to Green Depot to check out their cleaning product refill station.

An edible green wall caught my eye when walking passed Valcucine.

Strawberries ripe for the picking. Hmmm… I want to try this at home.

My friend Jane had to drop off her bike for repairs and this beauty was outside: the electric hybrid Ultramotor A2B bike.

Same friend Jane lives in The Solaire. I asked for a tour of the building’s green roof.

A rooftop oasis awaits…

Green roofs provide habitat for birds and butterflies…

They keep buildings cool in summer and insulated in winter…

They prevent storm water run-off and heat island effect

And there just so darn inviting. If it were a nicer day I don’t think I would’ve wanted to leave.

Another green building, The Verdesian across the way.

And for the green dwelling trifecta, The TriBeCa Green.

The park they all share below. It’s much more intriguing when you’re down there (sorry I missed that photo op).

Back on terra firma, a sign for the latest car-sharing service, Mint, caught my eye. (Move over zipcar, now there’s something fresher…)

NYC is slowly becoming more bike-friendly. Sans bicycle, I rode the subway home.

milliontrees nyc announces volunteer opps

May 15, 2009

[Tree and me]
Just the other day as I stared out my apartment window, I thought about how lovely it was that the trees back there have grown closer our building. The lush green branches and perching birds were a great comfort to me, considering we have no outdoor space in our place. This morning I awoke to the sound of chainsaws. Half the tree is gone. I just hope they made a clean cut at the branch collar so the tree will “heal” properly (tomorrow I have my field day with the Trees NY Citizen Pruner course). 
If you appreciate trees and wildlife as much as I do, maybe you’ll be compelled to help the city take care of our little bits of green habitat. MillionTrees NYC just announced their upcoming schedule of events. Maybe I’ll see you at one of them…

Natural Resources Group: Forest Stewardship Days: Citywide
This spring take part in the restoration of forests in natural areas in NYC. We will be removing invasive weeds, watering and mulching. Volunteers will learn the history and ecology of the sites and help ensure the future of the forest!

Registration is currently open to volunteer with MillionTreesNYC in our reforestation areas!
  • Saturday, May 30, 2009, 9:00am-2:00pm: Ocean Breeze, Staten Island Kissena Corridor Park, Queens
  • Saturday, June 20, 2009, 9:00am-2:00pm: Pelham Bay Park, Bronx Canarsie Park, Brooklyn Idlewild Park, Queens Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island Mt. Loretto Unique Area, Staten Island Randall’s Island, Manhattan

Sign up at
Children under 16 must be accompanied by a guardian. Not recommended for children under age 12.
Contact Ellen Arnstein with questions

Conference House Park, Staten Island: Forest Stewardship Volunteering
Looking for interesting and meaningful activities in the great outdoors? Experience nature, learn plant and animal species and volunteer at Conference House Park. Activities will include planting, invasive plant removal, and tree-care activities.

  • Saturday, May 16th, 2:00-5:00pm 
  • Wednesday, May 20th, 9:00am-12:00pm 
  • Saturday, May 30th, 2:00-5:00pm 
  • Saturday, June 27th, 2:00-5:00pm 
  • Wednesday, July 8th, 5:00-7:30pm 
  • Sunday, July 26th, 9:00am-12:00pm 
  • Monday, July 27th, 9:00am-12:00pm

Stewardship events begin at the Conference House Park Visitors’ Center. For questions, directions, and to RSVP, contact Cheri or 718-390-8021.

go plant a tree!

April 23, 2009

Did you know that tomorrow is Arbor Day? I hadn’t a clue until I just got this email from MillionTreesNYC. If I didn’t have to work tomorrow, I’d be doing this (boo to work!):

Still looking to do something green this Arbor Day – Friday, April 24?

Join New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in celebrating MillionTreesNYC Month with presenting sponsor BNP Paribas by planting over 200 trees in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday, April 24. By volunteering, you will be helping MillionTreesNYC create a cleaner, greener New York City, while also having some fun under the Brooklyn sun! So dig in and demonstrate just how green you can be by registering today!

Only 100 volunteer opportunities remain available for our Arbor Day celebration tomorrow. So, register today.

Friday, April 24
9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Volunteer sign-in begins at 8:30 am

Sternberg Park – East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(On Lorimer Street, between Montrose Ave and Boerum Street)

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION: All volunteers must be 18 years or older. To volunteer you must register in advance by contacting Olivia Chen at Upon registration, you will receive an e-mail confirming your participation.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for registered volunteers. Tree-planting will end at 3:00 pm and culminate with an ice cream social in NYRP’s Heckscher Foundation’s Children Garden.

Not in NYC? Find Arbor Day activities in your neck of the woods.

what do you know for sure?

April 20, 2009

by Bob Hicok

Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot
or loosening a lug nut and ask,
witness to what? So while salad
is made, or getting from A to B
is repaired, these people
listen to the story
of the Burnside Bridge sycamore,
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day
of the war, or the Appomattox Court House
honey locust, just coming to leaf
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end,
Cool. Then the chopping
continues with its two sounds,
the slight snap to the separation
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack
of knife against cutting board,
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut
as it’s tightened against a wheel. In time,
these people put their hands
under water and say, not so much to you
but to the window in front of the sink,
Think of all the things
trees have seen.
Then it’s time
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes,
or a year, before two fawns
cross in front of the car, or the man
you’ve just given a dollar to
lifts his shirt to the start
of the 23rd psalm tattooed
to his chest, “The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want,” when some people
say, I feel like one of those trees,
you know?
And you do know.
You make a good salad, change
a wicked tire, you’re one of those people,
watching, listening, a witness
to whatever this is,
for as long as it is
amazing, isn’t it, that I could call you
right now and say, They still
can’t talk to dolphins
but are closer,
as I still
can’t say everything I want to
but am closer, for trying, to God,
if you must, to spirit, if you will,
to what’s never easy for people
like us: life, breath, the sheer volume
of wonder.

Bob Hicok is the author of This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press) and associate professor of English at Virginia Tech.

great scott, some good environmental advertising!

April 19, 2009

Brought to you by Greenpeace

After watching this I decided to take a look at Kimberley Clark’s website to see if they’ve done any cleaning up with regard to their environmental image.

It looks like they’re greening up their act, albeit a little half-heartedly. They’ve launched Scott Naturals line of paper products, “green Done Right.” They think “done right” is a “sensible” blend of sometimes up to 80% of recycled content. Some might think this is a step in the right direction, but I’m not sold. There are plenty of high quality 100% recycled paper products out there that, excuse the pun, wipe out Kimberley Clark’s attempts at greening.

Here they are:

celebrate earth day with peaceful valley

April 16, 2009

Attention conscious consumers: Shop at Peaceful Valley between now and April 25th and you’ll be doing something good for your health (and the planet). For Earth Day, this eco-friendly e-tailer will plant 10 trees in your honor when you purchase from their shop.

Some of the great stuff they sell: organic cotton clothing, tree-free greeting cards, earth-friendly jewelry, natural beauty products, organic treats, and so much more!

Shop Peaceful Valley Earth Friendly Clothing & Gifts – for the trees, for the planet, for peace.

great green events in bklyn

March 4, 2009

After the recent snowstorm that blanketed the city, I’m really feeling the itch of Spring. It’ll soon be time to get outside and enjoy the budding trees, the blooming flowers, the [ah-choo] pollinating plants.

Here are some events to help you shake off the Winter chill and get ready to welcome the fruitful new season.

Tonight, Wednesday, March 4 @7pm
Alternative energy in your home
The Community Bookstore in Park Slope hosts a forum on incorporating alternative energy and energy (read: money) saving tips into your home.
Green Roofs! Rooftop Wind generators! Easy quick and effective measures like painting over your black roof – did you know this is the fastest and most effective thing you can do to reduce energy use? The State offers tax rebates and incentives for installing green roofs which can half the cost of installation! A local business found a company who contracts to put a little windmill on your roof – they provide the equipment and you get the reduced bills! There are lots of ideas being tried out there, and we can surely all benefit from pooling ideas – why reinvent the wheel, or the windmill?
More info

This Saturday, March 7, 10am to 4pm
Making Brooklyn Bloom

Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts the 28th annual Making Brooklyn Bloom, a day full of workshops and info on growing this fine borough into an even greener place to live. Get the full schedule and workshop list.

Admission is free when you download the flyer from this page [think before you print… got an iPhone or other web phone? Save a tree and store it there!]

Ongoing through Spring
Exploring and Appreciating New York City
The Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE) has announced their Spring tour schedule. Highlights include: Along the High Line (Saturday, March 21), Crossing Newtown Creek (Sunday, March 22), Cemetery of the Evergreens (Sunday, April 26), Exploring Sunset Park’s Waterfront (Sunday, May 31).
Learn more about BCUE

what every tree wants

February 1, 2009

Sun, air, water, soil. It seems so simple, right? Not so for a street tree in the big city. Trees here in NYC can have it pretty rough. But we need them. They clean our air and provide us with fresh oxygen. Their canopies, however modest, provide us with shade during the hot summer months. And street trees are a resting place for migrating and residents birds, providing us with an opportunity to watch nature run its course.

It’s easy for us city dwellers to pass trees without a second thought — we’re often too busy going somewhere, texting and walking, or too busy minding our own business to notice.

But trees have needs and we need to tend to them.

This is what trees don’t like:

1. Dog poop and pee (no it’s not fertilizer and water!)
2. Tree guards that will eventually gird them (and then kill them)
3. Plant beds that come too high above the root line (rot!)
4. Rock salt, aka, halite or sodium chloride (damages the roots)*
5. Cars driving into them (ouch)
6. Compacted soil (so thirsty!)

*better alternatives include calcium chloride and coarse builder sand.

Street Tree DON’T

Sure, the guard saved it from a car’s bumper,
but this London Plane may someday grow
into this tall guard

Street Tree DO

This guard allows the tree to grow out if it needs to

I learned all of this at a couple of workshops — one put on by Trees New York and the other by the city’s MillionTreesNYC program. If you’re interested in caring for street trees, check with these organizations for free workshops throughout the year. City trees need all the help they can get!