On Saturday, March 14, 20th Street Elementary School’s campus, located just south of downtown Los Angeles’ Fashion District, was transformed. Over 100 volunteers, TreePeople staff and partners came together and planted 30 Raywood Ash, Australian Willow and Crape Myrtle trees on a formerly bleak asphalt schoolyard. Despite the heat, the day was electric with excitement for the future of the school and the knowledge that the campus is soon to be a more shaded, healthy and green environment for the students and community.
Los Angeles District 9 Councilmember Curren Price opened with encouraging words for his local community, urging attendees to dig in to green the campus.
Unpaving the Way
More than 4,000 square feet of impermeable asphalt was removed ahead of the event with the help of a tightly-knit community, LAUSD, Los Angeles Conservation Corps and CAL FIRE and other gracious partners.
The Impact of Greening City Schools
TreePeople’s Senior Manager of Sustainable Schoolyards, Michelle Bagnato, has been working for two years to encourage the school to raise money for irrigation, help provide monetary and partner resources, educate the community, teach workshops and lead street tree planting and tree care events. In the end, the huge turnout from the community, the efforts of the school, and the generosity of our partners made the event a success.
The school sits in a neighborhood with low tree canopy coverage, so these newly planted trees will provide much-needed shade, cleaner air and natural beauty to the school’s urban backdrop. The new trees also give the students an opportunity to learn how to care for and value our urban forest while benefitting academically from their presence. Some research indicates that students exposed to green campuses have even seen test score increases of up to 54%!
TreePeople Partnerships In Action
“These joint efforts are critical to the health of Los Angeles. Our city is reliant on trees and natural spaces to cool our city, collect precious rainwater, clean our air, create healthier soil and for an all around more sustainable city,” said TreePeople’s Director of Engagement of Partnerships, Torin Dunnavant.“It’s wonderful to see the community and local partners come together to make our neighborhoods more livable and green.”
Lakers Girls and future Lakers superstar, Julius Randle also joined the event to help put trees in the ground alongside TreePeople partner East West Bank whose sponsorship of the “Trees for Threes” program lent a generous donation toward our planting efforts.
Along with our volunteer supervisors, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps helped oversee the event to ensure a productive planting experience while making sure people were safe.
The project’s funding efforts were spearheaded by the school itself, LAUSD, Los Angeles Conservation Corps and State of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
Saldana Landscape and Irrigation was also a major contributor, donating their expertise and labor to prep the campus for the big day.
Ryan Drnek of Sodder Studios, who has been involved since 2013, drew up the landscape and irrigation plans for the project.
The Los Angeles Unified School District kindly helped provide a multitude of resources including mulch, fencing, and additional electrical needs for plumbing and irrigation.
The Power of Community
Our programs focus on collaboration and empowering communities with the education and tools to take action.
The campus Green Teams we support are formed by guiding motivated principals, teachers, students and parents to identify and implement sustainable plans that can be incorporated into the curriculum alongside project-based and service learning. Alongside trained TreePeople volunteer supervisors, the Green Teams work to ensure that tree plantings are done properly and that the trees have an ongoing maintenance plan so they live long, healthy lives at the schools. Classrooms then adopt the trees in partnership with the school’s Green Team to continue the trees’ care and instill the school children with a sense of stewardship for the environment.
What You Can Do
Access to green space gives students a place to play and develop creative problem solving skills, and the more trees and plants students have around them, the more likely they are to protect and advocate for our urban forest.
A green campus is a healthy campus, and we work with schools across LA to add shade and greenery for students and teachers to learn from and enjoy. To learn more on how to help us create greener, more sustainable schools, and our environmental education programs and resources, visit TreePeople’s School Action Center.