The Urban Forest Initiative's second annual Tree Week, a week of events dedicated to raising awareness of urban forestry, will run from October 12-19.
“What I think we hope to do with Tree Week is help people connect, and I think in a lot of times, reconnect, with their relationship to trees," said Mary Arthur, a UK professor and co-lead of UFI. "Ultimately what we hope is that it will encourage people to become tree advocates, to realize that trees need to be planted in our city and even more importantly trees that have already been planted need to be conserved."
Tree Week events are open to everyone in the community, Arthur said, emphasizing that the event planning itself has been a collaborative community effort. This year Tree Week will have 70 events, about 10 more than last year, ranging from education, to service, to fun.
“There’s a little bit of everything,” said UFI's sustainability intern Cameron Luker. “So whatever you’re interested in there’s going to be something for you. Whether you’re a kid, a retiree, a student, whatever you’re going to be able to find something.”
New this year is the signature tree planting, Arthur said. They will be planting two trees, one for this year and one for last year, at the Northside Branch Library. A city council member will attend and the site will be home to a signature tree for any future Tree Weeks.
Arthur is most excited for the kick-off at Seedleaf Urban Farm and the mulching at Castlewood Park.
“I’m hoping we’re going to get a lot of students to come to that, both because we need their help but also because I think it’s a really good opportunity to get students off campus and to realize that they actually live in a really interesting place that’s got a lot going on” said Arthur of the Castlewood event.
Arthur said some classes, including hers, are giving extra credit for attendance at Tree Week events. All of the events are open to the public. A few events do require advance sign-ups; those sign-ups can be found on the Tree Week website.
“What we’re really hoping to do is get students off campus, having them blending with people in the community, understanding more about the value of urban trees to environmental sustainability,” said Arthur.
Though UFI is sponsoring Tree Week, individual events are planned by the organization or even individual who volunteered to host. Hosts are responsible for organizing and promoting their event, as well as getting the proper permits.
“We’re providing the support and the organizational structure for that to happen so one of the things we’re doing is creating some resources for the people who are hosting the events and we’re providing outreach to the community through the social media I’m doing,” said Luker.
Luker has been using social media to connect with local businesses like outdoor stores, restaurants and bicycle shops.
Several partners UFI reached out to last year, like the public libraries, reached out to UFI first this year, said Arthur.
UFI has had a great relationship with Lexington Public Libraries and that she hopes their events will have a lot of engagement, Arthur said.
“Attendance is huge,” said Luker, “but what I really want is for people to understand the benefit of trees in their life. I want them to be able to think about why their lives are better because we have trees in Lexington.”
Luker said that Tree Week is important for students because sustainability can apply to so many fields.
“We learn about all this stuff and the importance of trees, the importance of clean water, clean air, all that stuff, in class, but actually getting to work toward that and learn about it in the field is awesome,” said Luker.
“No matter what you’re studying, you can probably find a way to merge that and help make the world a better place.”
A full list of Tree Week events can be found here.