Friday, November 21, 2014

Crown Point: Trees, Please!

Come out to our Volunteer Orientation for Crown Point: Trees, Please! and learn about how you can become a Tree Ambassador, get free trees for yourself and see more trees in your neighbourhood!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Exciting Fall Happenings

The Street Tree Project has been officially done for the summer since July, but make no mistake, our efforts to put trees on the streets of Hamilton are still going strong. About a month ago, on October 4, one of our summer volunteers, Anna (who was also a part of the Cable 14 feature of us!) took a group of students canvassing door-to-door again in Crown Point.
Over the course of the summer, OPIRG's StreetTree Project had spoken to organizers of the McMaster Student Success Center's annual MacServe Day of Learning. The Day of Learning allows McMaster students to sign up to spend a day working with a group on a service project. MacServe offers a variety of placements, all including some introduction to the area or program with which students will be working, and following up with a debrief afterwards. As one of the options that students could sign up for this year, the StreetTree Project drew some more attention from students, spread the word about free trees in Crown Point, and signed up three more residents for a Street Tree!

Narula's RestaurantOutside of  the McMaster community, the StreetTree Project is also being taken up by residents of the Crown Point neighbourhood. Some residents expressed an interest in expanding the program in their community, so we met with Anne, who lives in the Crown Point neighbourhood, Rosy, who owns Narula's (a really delicious Indian restaurant in Crown Point which you should definitely check out!), and Giuliana, from the Hamilton Naturalist's Club to discuss how we could make that happen. 
Rosy generously offered up her restaurant for the meeting, and exciting things have been planned for the future! We decided that we will hold a volunteer orientation at the end of November. The Naturalist's Club has a goal to increase green space in Crown Point, the OPIRG StreetTree project is aiming to help people find out about free StreetTrees that can be requested from the City, and the people who live and work in the community want to see their neighbourhood beautiful and healthy! Working towards a common goal, we're planning to host a volunteer orientation session towards the end of November for anyone interested in promoting trees in their neighbourhood! Keep posted for more information and to stay involved with the tree excitement in Crown Point! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Street Tree project coordinator Krista made an appearance on McMaster's radio station CFMU 93.3 fm' This Is #HamOnt show to talk about the success of this summer project. Listen to the entire show, or zoom in at 18:40 to get right to Krista's interview.

Thanks to the volunteer host Jonathan for inviting us on the air! Campus radio is a fantastic place to share new ideas (and of course music!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

StreetTree Requests Mapped

Keeping track of tree requests has been exciting! It's been wonderful seeing the list get longer and longer as we've added requests to the spreadsheet, but what was even more awesome was looking at these requests placed on a map! Most of the requests that we gathered from canvassing these past months have now been put into an interactive Google map, you can look at where trees have been requested and also what people have put down as their top three choices. Look to see what kind of trees will be growing in the Crown Point neighbourhood soon :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Table at Kenilworth Library and Revisiting Keith

The StreetTree Project has been pretty busy this past week as it's drawing to a close for the summer. I'll try to put up a few posts for the things that have been happening, starting with our day of tabling at the Kenilworth Library and our visit to the Keith neighbourhood.

Last week the lovely librarians from Kenilworth Library agreed to lend us a table from which we could advertise the StreetTree Program. We met there with our volunteers last week Monday at 10am, and there were people lined up to get into the library well before the doors actually opened. We chose a good time, because for the few hours we were there people were constantly coming in to drop off books, take out movies, use the computers, or just sit down and read. We spoke to over 30 people and gathered a few extra requests!
Stacey and Marlon ordering trees for their corner lot
After our tabling was done, OPIRG StreetTree Staff biked out to the Keith Neighbourhood to check out what some of the newly planted trees looked like, and to see if there were any neighbours we could speak to. Here are photos of some of the new trees we saw:

We found that some trees fill out much faster than others (maybe with some careful watering and protection):
and some people were in the middle of landscaping around their new tree:

Overall though, all the trees were beautiful and there were plenty of new ones around the Keith area! I'm excited to see what they'll look like in a few years!

See here for a photo-story of our day:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Loving the Local Media

Each neighbourhood has it's own character (and characters) and a uniqueness that makes it special. And fortunately Crown Point (like the Keith Neighbourhood last year) has it's own local paper. The Point was kind enough to grant the Street Tree Project space to publicize our work in the area, and there it is, in black and white! Thanks everyone who helps OPIRG McMaster make a positive contribution!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kids and Trees: A Growing Friendship

Kids like trees. There are some adults who like trees just as much, and some adults who point out that sometimes kids are a bit rough and end up hurting baby trees, but nevertheless kids really love trees! I can attribute at least a few of the requests we've gathered, not to mention some really good "maybe"s, to some of the neighbourhood's youngest residents.  It might be partially due to the fact that parents and other adults try to weigh the long-term pros and cons of having a tree; whereas most people under the age of ten just seem to think how fun or pretty a tree in the yard would be.

It's been about a decade since I was ten years old, but I feel like sometimes my thinking isn't all that different; so I can only imagine if someone came to my door offering a tree I'd immediately picture myself hanging off branches, or swinging from a tire tied from a rope to sturdy limbs covered in pretty leaves that rustle when it's windy and give my play-space some nice shade in the middle of the summer....Needless to say, I think the ultimate decision of whether we get a tree in our front lawn would probably not be left up to me!

But sometimes, you need that enthusiasm! There are lots of wonderful things that come from trees. Besides a jungle-gym in your front lawn, trees provide oxygen, they reduce the cost of cooling your house, and increase your property values. Many adults immediately think of potential root problems (which realistically would take decades to arise and even then only if the tree happens to be planted too close to your house or your pipes). With a ten-year-old pressuring them to request a tree, and even offering to take responsibility and water the sapling when it's first planted, I think a lot of the parents start to try a bit harder to look for some of the perks a tree in the yard might bring, or at least a good enough reason to be able to justify saying no. And when you think about it, there ARE lots of perks to having a tree! So lots of parents DO decide to request a tree!

One young gentleman in particular who I came across last week was really committed to getting a tree in his front lawn. We first met when I was about to go up the front steps of what turned out to be his friend's house while canvassing. He was about to go up the same steps, and we both stopped in front of the house to uncomfortably look at each other until one of us decided to knock first. He might have been about seven years old, was wearing a black polo shirt tucked into his black shorts, with a white dust that looked like it must have come off a powdered donut around his mouth and all over the front of his outfit. He had pretty fair features, and big eyes that looked like they took up the majority of his face when he looked up at me through his big glasses, until I finally said "You first."
"Ok", he told me, "Are you here to talk to my friend?". As he knocked and waited for a reply I explained that I was hoping to talk to his friend's parents, and told him a bit about the Street Tree Project.
"You should come to my house and give my mom a tree!" he said enthusiastically.
I told him I was trying to get houses in order, and might have been by his place already since it was on a street I didn't have notes with me for on that day.

When his friend didn't get the door, he moved out of the way of the front steps and turned to tell me it was my turn. So I knocked too, and I guess whoever lived there wasn't avoiding my new friend directly because they didn't come to the door for me either. We decided they were probably out, and after introducing ourselves properly and shaking hands, my young friend decided to walk me in the direction of his home so that I could speak to his mother. He told me they'd just sold their house (another indication that there was maybe no point in trying to convince his mom to request a tree, since they weren't going to live there much longer) and that they were going to move to Hamilton's west end. I informed him that I also live in the west end, and I think that was the moment our new friendship was solidified. I don't think I've ever met anyone who's reacted so happily to hearing I'll be living in the same half of the city as them!
When we got to about two houses away from his, he pointed to where he lived, said bye quickly, and ran off. I remember doing the same when I was younger if I was ever outside around dinner time and knew that the moment my mom saw me would signal an end to playtime for the day.

I walked up his front steps and knocked on his house door, a little hesitant because I already knew what the answer would be, and also because I was fairly certain I had already spoken with his mom and received a "No, thank you" some days before. But I'd promised him that I'd ask, so I did.
His mom got the door, and I reintroduced myself and told her that her son had sent me. She laughed and explained that they wouldn't be able to ask for a tree because they'd just sold the house, but thanked me for stopping by.

The rest of the day carried on well, but fairly uneventfully. Meeting my new little friend was a wonderful experience and probably the highlight of my canvassing thus far! It reminded me again that trees and kids really do go well together, and left me hoping to bump into him again, maybe next time in the west end of the city.