No trees, no future, no life

Andy at Hong Kong UniversityI just returned from five days in Hong Kong where I delivered nine presentations, workshops and high level meetings assisting the people of Hong Kong in addressing critical resource conservation issues.  Meetings included a private session with the Minister for Environment for Hong Kong. 

Is Your Home Wasting Rainwater? Learn to Harvest What Falls from the Sky at TreePeople’s Green City Fair on May 5th

I’m running too quickly to blog right now, so I’ve invited my colleague Caryn Bosson to do a guest post about an upcoming event we’re all pretty excited about…I’ll be on stage throughout the day with friends and special guests bringing some perspective and inspiration about transforming L.A. one house and neighborhood at a time.

For a city that lives on the brink of drought, L.A. squanders a lot of water. Every inch of rain that falls onto our rooftops, streets and parking lots generates 3.8 billion gallons of run off that is mostly channeled into the ocean.

At TreePeople’s 2nd annual Green City Fair on Saturday, May 5, Angelenos can choose from sixteen free workshops on practical techniques for creating more water-absorbent, water-secure, sustainable and beautiful landscapes. At our Center for Community Forestry headquarters, the Green City Fair also features green vendors, food, entertainment, guided hikes and family activities, and demonstrations of how we can get to the sustainable L.A. of the future.

Seeds and urban dreams

Photo by Mathias Laugesen

Picture this: you’re in the middle of South LA, surrounded by a grey cityscape. Suddenly you come across a a beautiful wetlands complete with birds, water, native  plants and meandering paths and boardwalks. Not just a beautiful spot, but one that is actively cleaning polluted water, protecting the health and safety of the surrounding neighborhood and the the entire city. How did this happen?

It happened because two people, Los Angeles City Council member Jan Perry and Jeff Catalano, her Director of Environmental Affairs. shared a dream that their community could be better, healthier, greener and more sustainable.  To make that dream come true, they learned a lot and worked hard for many years.  They enrolled others in the dream and enlisted all sorts of help, funds, and cooperation from agencies, organizations and individuals.  

Their efforts - and their results -  have been extraordinary, but they aren’t alone. Projects big and small are sprouting up all over Los Angeles from seeds planted over the past two decades.

People need trees, trees need people

photo by @JulieandSteve via Flickr

Last week’s windstorm downed trees and wreaked havoc on our streets and landscapes, costing millions of dollars in property damage. Equally as devastating was the costly damage to a critical part of our community infrastructure: the urban forest. Kudos to all the arborists, the professional tree people, who've just performed the heroic, high-risk work of rapid cleanup. These are people who until recent municipal budget cuts were regularly employed keeping our trees safe and healthy.

We need trees in cities more than ever. We need them to protect us from heat, flooding, air pollution, drought - health and safety hazards far more common than a uncharacteristic wind storm. We need them to provide us with oxygen, shade, beauty, natural habitat, energy savings, and carbon dioxide sequestration. In losing the trees toppled by the storm we’ve lost vital services.

Could these losses have been prevented?  

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