7am rise. 8pm departure. 1 hour commute and at 9 am we arrive at our urban field site- Syracuse, NY.
That’s where I’ll spend the day with our expert, Brenda Bennett. She works as an Urban Forestry Educator providing community outreach and working to organize tree plantings on land that belongs to either the city or private land owners.
The April morning, while brisk, brings sun and promises of warmth after a winter that has been quite frigid and chilling. With Earth Day on the horizon, it’s going to be a nice time to be marking out tree plantings.
When we get to her building, Brenda takes me up the golden elevator of a golden atrium and and points out the frozen escalators and glass walls that separate offices, visible in this skylight-lit, spacious heart of the building. The building was once a mall but has found a second life as office space.
The space is nice, the people are friendly, and the day’s mission is set. Brenda’s goal for the day is to lay out the plant sites for 70 trees along the meridian strip of a city boulevard. We’ll head out in the afternoon adorned in only the brightest orange vests, a clipboard with the pre-drawn plans, and a spray bottle for marking plant sites.
The time comes and we leave the golden innards of the building, hop in the car, and follow Brenda’s colleagues to the field site. On the way, we pass the crews that bring the trees and put them in the ground. They are an energetic crew, and as we drive through they turn smiling and waving enthusiastically. We pass by some other sites and Brenda notes that the young trees, still supported by stakes were put in recently and were doing well.
Finally we get near the site. We park next to a chinese restaurant, where a man is shucking shellfish and the stench of seafood is strong in the air. We ask if we can park(It’s for the trees!) and we get the OK.
Wait till the walk sign, look both ways, and cross at the crosswalk. That’s how it goes in the urban field setting where your most dangerous predators are man-made. We make it across the busy road to the calm, green meridian.
Aside from green grass, the stretch contained a monument, trees, traffic lights, and bushes for the most part. The trees they mark for installation today will be placed carefully around what, in the near future, will be a bike path through this highway oasis.
Clipboard with planning map raised, spray can out, and the team of three gets going- marking the ground with their tree codes for the enthusiastic crew that would later come through for installation. The variety of new tree species will beautify this future bike path and current boulevard divider.
70 trees. 2 hours. Long stretches of green meridian to go. With the sun shining and Google Glass on, Brenda and her teammates lay our the marks for this new urban forest.
This segment has been filmed and is expected to be released this summer. Stay tuned for more. In the meanwhile you can check out Brenda’s profile.