TreeIsAFourLetterWord Update. Images by Jen Rosenstein.
When I emailed my team earlier this year about planting trees, I was thinking about fresh air. What I never anticipated were the sighs of relief and deep breaths of gratitude I’d experience from communities around the country who’d greatly benefit not only from the trees, but from the attention they’d receive from the project. What began as a simple tree planting mission has, like a tree itself, grown new branches to nurture and support life far beyond my wildest dreams.
Last Saturday, on a hot and sticky day in Hartford Connecticut, with citizens from Frog Hollow, Knox Parks, Billings Forge and all the wonderful volunteers from Reverb and 96.5 TIC, we transformed the campus of Burns School for Latino Studies just in time for it’s reopening this week.
With a little love, sweat, a few tears, and a sweet blister accrued from my shovel, a small group of extraordinary humans cut back weeds and overgrown trees from the face of the school to let light into windows and reveal the building’s beautiful brick facade, while some collected trash, including glass and needles from the school’s neglected back yard. Overall 6 new large Maple trees were planted as well as dozens of perennials to welcome new students and families. Knox Parks, a passionate tree group in Connecticut was so moved by the project, they wish to keep the Burn’s School playground, which still lacks shade, in their plans for more trees in the future.
And if that wasn’t enough, the city mayor stopped by to see what all the excitement was about. He visited the sight inspired to help improve more than just the schoolyard. I left wondering if that would have happened were it not for our effort to plant trees.
The school’s new principal worked alongside all the volunteers all day, filthy with dirt, unaffected by her sweaty brow and t-shirt, grateful for the turnout and all the attention. Usually in this area, I was told, even if there was a crime, they would get little coverage or support. But because we brought our light, cameras, and action, a positive difference was being made that would last well into the school year.
Why is it that so many schools get the short end of the stick?
Is it because we are all so anxious to get out into the world and make something of ourselves? Investing in our own businesses and futures, somewhat forgetting to look back and notice there’s always a generation behind us that counts on us to elevate their future too?
Whatever the case may be, I’m happy our little tree planting mission found it’s way to The Burns School in Frog Hollow and is having a greater effect on the planet and it’s people than just cleaner air. It seems as though we’re also clearing the air for minds to grow, communities to develop and ideas to unfold.
Thanks again to everyone for their hard work and generous energy. Especially to my sidekick Mona Tavakoli, who didn’t mind getting dirty on a show day.
Visit TreeIsAFourLetterWord.Org to learn more about our efforts and ways to contribute.