In University City, a 2,000-strong volunteer corps helps University City Green maintain trees and do the weeding, mulching and pruning at various parks and green spaces in the area and its surrounding communities.
Last month, UC Green Corps, composed of teens ages 15-18 who earn $8/hour for their summer work, refurbished the traffic triangles at 45th, 46th and 47th and Baltimore Avenue. The youths planted perennials and annuals like marigolds, zinnias, begonias, lavender, petunia and red salvia. This summer, the Corps executed similar projects at Miles Mack Park at 36th and Aspen in Mantua, and at Mastery Charter at 52nd and Lancaster.
Improving a triangle
First created in 1998 by Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services, UC Green was incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2003. Since 2003, the group has planted 3,800 new trees along West Philly streets. They host monthly cleanups at Woodland Cemetery. This fall, they’ll plant 100 new bare root trees in the surrounding area. UC Green plants new trees every other year in the fall and spring, according to executive director Sue MacQueen. Those plantings are arranged through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s TreeVitalize initiative and the Department of Parks and Recreation. According to MacQueen, all residents interested in having trees planted in front of their homes have to do is sign up through UC Green, as long as their location fits the requirements.
“We do everything from the concrete getting cut to putting the tree in the ground,” said MacQueen.
Interestingly, as in nature, where a tree needs cooperation between the sun and rain to grow, in Philly, a tree needs cooperation between various agencies before it can grow. Trees need permits. Parks and Rec is in charge of street trees around the city, but contracts independent arborists, or groups with arborists on board, like UC Green, to carry-out the work. Almost every time one sees a new street tree in Philly, some sort of cooperation between bureaucratic entities made that happen. Whether it’s good or bad that one needs government approval to plant a tree in this town is up to you to decide.
Photos courtesy of University City District.