Over the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very dedicated people in two of California’s largest cities – San Diego and Stockton. It’s been amazing to see both what needs to be accomplished in these cities and how hard these individuals are working to make sure the work in done.
In Stockton, volunteers are facing an up-hill battle. Last year, the city declared bankruptcy. It has one of the highest homicide rates in the country. Trees are the least of this community’s worries. Yet, there is a group of citizens there who know that trees aren’t just things that make neighborhoods more beautiful. This group of volunteers know that lower crime rates, higher business revenue, and increased property values are all correlated to canopy cover. They know that the sense of community created by planting and caring for trees can help build relationships between neighbors.
In San Diego, both the city and the county rank in the top 10 for places in the U.S. with the worst ozone pollution. Five of its communities were labeled as environmental hotspots – meaning areas most affected by pollution in California – by the California EPA. Political turmoil with a newly resigned mayor hasn’t helped either. Again, trees are hardly at the top of anyone’s agenda, but there are a group of people who care that San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods are greened because they know that those people deserve healthy and beautiful communities too. They know that trees can change communities for the better – increase air quality, create healthy spaces to work and play, cool the climate, and even increase academic performance.
Here at California ReLeaf, we’re excited to work with the folks in both Stockton and San Diego. While trees may not be the priority in either of these places, I know that communities and the people who live in them are. I’m proud that California ReLeaf has the opportunity to work with both of these groups to make two of the most populated areas in California better for all the people who call these cities home.
If you’re interested in helping too, please contact me at (916) 497-0037 or by using the contact page here on our website.
Ashley Mastin is the Network & Communication Manager at California ReLeaf.