THE WILD SIDE
By Maria de Bruyn
In June 2019, the Town of Chapel Hill initiated a voluntary Tree Committee to help “engage the entire Chapel Hill community in enhancing and protecting the town’s tree canopy and urban treescape.” At a meeting for the public, town residents were invited to offer ideas for activities during Chapel Hill’s Arbor Week beginning Friday, Nov. 15.
As a community member of the Tree Committee, it was my good fortune to collaborate with Anissa McClendon, an organizer of the E3 STEM and Arts summer camp, and Rosie Caldwell of the Rogers Road RENA Center to offer E3 campers and RENA Center youth a workshop on the importance of trees on Nov 16.
The town’s parks and recreation department kindly chose an appropriate tree to plant next to the RENA Center — a small redbud that will eventually grace the area with beautiful spring blooms as it grows.
The workshop kicked off with a tree-planting ceremony for the participants, with Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger talking with everyone about the importance of trees for our community. Carrboro council member Randee Haven O’Donnell also attended the ceremony, in which the young people enthusiastically shoveled waiting earth and mulch around the new community amenity.
The workshop then moved indoors where the youth volunteered their knowledge about why trees are needed in our community and learned about some new roles that trees fulfill as well. They were sent home with packets featuring paintings of trees by famous artists, including Al Black’s arboreal portrait shown here, poems about trees by U.S. Poet Laureate Jo Harjo and Langston Hughes, coloring sheets of trees, mandarin oranges and a book mark from the U.S. Museum of the American Indian to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.
Town residents are still invited to join the Tree Committee by contacting Mayor Hemminger’s assistant, Jeanne Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org).