Fighting Poverty with Passion
On October 22nd, 2016, Global Green partnered with four other New Orleans non-profits to plant trees around two New Orleans neighborhoods, the 7th Ward and Bunny Friend, in honor of community members whose lives were lost to violence. We spent most of the month of October preparing for this one day on which planted 60 trees that we hoped would help strengthen the community. With the help of well-respected community leaders, we made an effort to work with the community toward what they valued.
How, exactly, do trees do that? Well, to start, New Orleans lost over 100,000 trees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In a city that prides itself on an abundance of greenery and century old trees, this was a huge loss. The neighborhoods that we were planting in especially lacked trees and other greenery. Trees can bring innumerable benefits to a community and many of those benefits are crucial in New Orleans. Working in neighborhoods that sit at or below sea level, planting trees can intercept storm water and help prevent localized flooding. These trees also create shade, allowing for lowered utility bills and reduced heat island effects.
But where does the “peace” come in? New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates per capita in the country. In 2016, the city followed behind only Baltimore, St. Louis and Detroit. Global Green and its partners followed the example set by St. Louis by planting trees to combat this high crime rate. Studies have shown that trees have many positive health impacts. These include reduced blood pressure and reduced stress. Additionally, studies have shown that properly planted trees and maintained grass can reduce crime levels by up to 50%. The trees also create outdoor green spaces for community members to congregate in, thus creating neighborhood bonds.
So because of all of that, on October 22nd, we successfully brought together 100 volunteers for donuts and coffee, planted a ceremonial live oak sapling that had grown from an acorn found in City Park after Katrina, and planted 60 trees in various neighbors front yards. With the help of local church leadership, we were able to share in a peaceful moment of respect, remembrance and hope. The first year of Plant4Peace NOLA was a success, and we look forward to helping more community members plant more trees in the future!