Reposted from our friends at Practically Green…..
I can’t think of a better day to plant a tree than Memorial Day, can you? Trees are 99% permanent ideal markers for those we love who might no longer be around. My husband Jack and I planted three river birches this spring and on Memorial Day we’re going to decide who each tree is for!
I say amazing because Connie is the founder of CouturePlanet: her bags, made of curated newspapers, are nothing short of brilliant (see photo below). Love her historic take on our action, and her decision to make change happen in her town …. Please read on!
A Tree Grows in Lynn, Massachusetts
by Constance Carman
“We want a ground to which people may easily go after their days work is done…with a sufficient number of trees about it to supply a variety of light and shade… We want depth of wood enough about it not only for comfort in hot weather, but to completely shut out the city from our landscapes.” – Fredrick Law Olmstead
I admire Frederick Law Olmstead on so many levels. In addition to being one of our greatest landscape architects, he was a genius who spoke openly against the issues of his time such as slavery and civil rights. I am a native of Buffalo, and Cazenovia and Delaware Parks taught me about the beauty of nature and the importance of having a green space that belongs to everyone.
I now live in Swampscott, Massachusetts, a seaside town north of Boston where we are lucky to live in the Olmstead Historic District: a well-preserved, residential area designed in 188I, during the same time that Olmstead designed the Emerald Necklace and the Arnold Arboretum. And, I spend several weeks a year in New York City where I cannot imagine life without Central Park! Frederick Law Olmstead was indeed green!
I’ve always been concerned with the environment. One of the best things about starting Couture Planet™ two years ago is that I – and the whole Couture Planet™ team – have become far more concerned. Important sites like Practically Green give us the information and tools needed to make changes – large and small – in our personal lives, but we must take the initiative and carry them through day in and day out!
As we all know, it’s not always easy.
One of the things I plan to do as an outward display of my concern for the environment is to plant a tree in the community where my company is based. It’s an opportunity to both improve the look of the city and reap some energy benefits. Trees are a part of the infrastructure of our communities and a crucial part of our ecosystem. Especially in urban areas, trees can help reduce energy usage, heating and cooling by up to ten percent. Trees can transform streets and public areas. They are “green machines” that clean our air and water by absorbing pollutants and stabilizing soil. Planting a tree also provides the opportunity to raise one’s awareness of his or her surroundings. As each one of us should think of ourselves as stewards of our local environment, this is what I set out to do.
I called the Mayor’s office and was directed to someone who handles tree planting and the “adopt an island or container program.” I explained that I was hoping to make a contribution that would beautify a spot in the city but, moreover, have an environmental impact. (I even told them about the good work of Practically Green and directed them to the action!
Well, they promised someone would get back to me and I am patiently waiting to get more information. In the meantime, I went on a search to see how other communities are propelling their tree planting programs.
One of the most ambitious programs I came across is TreePeople, a highly organized Los Angeles-based group that has planted over 2 million trees in the LA basin. TreePeople’s mission is to inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment, making it safe, healthy, fun and sustainable and to share the results as a model for the world. Phew! I love people with lofty goals! They have a terrific website with everything you need to know about forestry, including a list of the Top 22 Benefits of Trees.
Here are a few of my favorite reasons to “plant and care for trees or defend a tree’s standing”
- Trees combat the greenhouse effect
- Trees clean the air
- Trees cool the streets and the city
- Trees help prevent water pollution and soil erosion
- Trees mark the seasons
- Trees create economic opportunities, and
- Trees add unity. As landmarks, they can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride.
The folks in the UK also take their trees seriously. The Woodland Trust, England’s leading woodland conservation, has a nifty feature called MyView that allows one to see how a street or neighborhood might look with the addition of trees. Take and upload a photograph of your local environment that would benefit from the addition of trees. Their web gizmo then allows you to drag and drop trees onto the photos of local streets and parks. Very cool! Check it out!
Well, it seems the East coast is lagging beyond the West coast (don’t repeat that!) and well behind the UK, as I’m still waiting for information on where I can and will plant my tree. I understand, all local government is overworked.
So, not only will I make this public promise to plant a tree, I also vow to speak to the powers that be about helping to facilitate the process for others in the future.
Sounds like my new cause! My dream is to plant a Saucer Magnolia tree in front of the Lydia Pinkham Building, the present home of Couture Planet™. (Lydia Pinkham, born in 1819, was an entrepreneur who made home remedies for “women’s ailments” — a worthy topic for another day!)
This magnolia is a spectacular specimen that gives us her show of fragrant pink blooms in late April. The tree matures to 20’-30’ with a 25’ spread – making it perfect for the busy streets of Lynn. The waft of its heavy perfume will intoxicate passers by for 14 glorious days! Thereafter, she shows her greenery and serves as a home to many of our favorite songbirds.
I’ll fall asleep tonight dreaming of my magnolia.
While reading about trees for this blog, the fact that astonished me the most is that in one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles. Wow! I can’t wait to plant my tree!
Connie, a graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, is the Owner and President of Couture Planet™, a Lynn, Massachusetts-based Company that manufactures handbags and accessories from 100% post-consumer newspaper. In addition, Connie is the buyer for the Shop at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, where she is the also the Chairman of the hotel’s “Green Team” that aims to increase recycling and reduce waste at the Boston hotel.
The idea for Couture Planet™ was born after seeing piles of newspapers in the hotel: “Newspapers are history; newspapers are iconic. Why not repurpose the images into fashion pieces?” Couture Planet™ combines Connie’s concern for the environment and entrepreneurial spirit. Couture Planet’s™ interests and activities extend beyond recycling and the company is constantly seeking ways to be “more green” and more responsible citizens of the world.