Flourishing on Fourth Avenue with MillionTreesNYC Grant

The Park Slope Civic Council’s Fourth on Fourth Avenue Committee (FOFA) has earned a grant to take care of trees on Fourth Avenue and educate neighbors about the many benefits of a greener streetscape.

At the official ceremony for grant recipients, held on May 22 at The Arsenal in Central Park, were, from left, Susan Kormacki, MillionTreesNYC volunteer coordinator; SJ Avery, FOFA co-chair; Michael Cairl, Civic Council president; Elise Selinger, FOFA co-chair; Shalini Beath, MillionTreesNYC deputy director; and Andrew Newman, MillionTreesNYC project coordinator.

The “mini-grant” of $700 from the MillionTreesNYC program, awarded in late May, will help the committee maintain trees on Fourth between Bergen and Carroll Streets, with particular emphasis on 13 young trees along that stretch, and create a pamphlet for Fourth Avenue residents and merchants emphasizing the environmental and economic benefits that healthy trees offer. FOFA will also help new adopters of neighborhood tree beds with inexpensive tree guards, assistance in the first cultivation and planting of the beds, training in maintenance, and distribution of tool kits from MilllionTreesNYC.

Enhancing tree beds will make Fourth Avenue friendlier and more attractive for pedestrians, almost double the likelihood of tree survival on the avenue’s sidewalks, and stimulate interest in further greening efforts.

The kick-off event for programs funded by the grant will take place Saturday, June 16, starting at noon, at the Arias Park Slope, 150 Fourth Avenue, which is co-sponsoring the event. The six tree beds in front of the building will be cultivated and planted; work tools from MillionTreesNYC (cultivators, spades, watering buckets) and gloves will be available, as will instruction on tree-bed maintenance. The Arias will be providing the plants for the tree beds and light refreshments for participants. FOFA will be distributing leaflets in the project area, urging other residents, building owners, and merchants to attend the event and learn more about tree care.

In anticipation of this and other training events for future tree stewards along Fourth Avenue, FOFA members Grace Freedman, Joe Ciccone, Judy Janda, and Elise Selinger attended a recent Train the Trainer seminar hosted by MillionTreesNYC. Designed to empower enthusiastic tree stewards to offer tree-care workshops to neighbors and friends, Train the Trainer discussed all the steps needed to run a workshop, offered seasonally specific tree-care strategies and tips, taught community-organizing and event-coordination skills, and offered an in-depth understanding of the MillionTreesNYC initiative.

Grace Freedman, Joe Ciccone, Judy Janda, and Elise Selinger at MillionTreesNYC's Train the Trainer workshop on May 23.

The FOFA contingency had a great time at the training, received tools to use to care for the trees, and exchanged ideas with tree stewards in other parts of New York City.

FOFA’s winning proposal was one of 23 grants awarded by MillionTreesNYC, whose goal is to plant and care for 1 million new trees across the five boroughs by 2017, and Change by Us NYC, the city’s online platform for community groups to develop volunteer-driven projects that strengthen their neighborhoods through collaboration. All the projects aim to organize and strengthen tree stewardship and sustainability efforts in their neighborhoods.

The “shared commitment” of these community organiztions “to making New York City greener and greater than ever before is something that we are glad to see taking root in communities across the city,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, “and it is especially exciting to see so many projects involving street trees and community gardens.” (Read the full press release here.)

For more information about FOFA’s upcomning tree-care workshop, e-mail the committee at fofa@parkslopeciviccouncil.org.

from the June 2012 Civic News