Taking to Brookline Streets for Trees
On a chilly Sunday afternoon in April, seven teams of Mothers Out Front volunteers gathered at Saint Mark’s Park in Brookline to prepare for their first spring Tree Canvassing Event to promote Brookline’s free Front Yard Tree Planting Program. Mothers Out Front is a climate activism group which has partnered with Brookline’s Division of Parks and Open Space to publicize the free tree program. Canvassers were joined by members of the Brookline Tree Planting Committee to clarify how the program works.
Armed with clipboards and colorful, informative door hangers describing the program, teams of two and three fanned out to their assigned neighborhoods, knocking on doors and encouraging their neighbors to consider adding a free tree in their front yard. If front yard spaces meet eligibility requirements, the Town will pay for the purchase of a new tree, plant it, and help maintain it for the first five years. The free Front Yard Tree Program has been in place since the 1930s, yet few residents know about it. Interested residents can apply for their free tree online.
The Brookline Mothers Out Front Tree Team has been working with the town on this endeavor for the past year, picking up on the objectives laid out in the recently completed Brookline Urban Forest Climate Resiliency Master Plan. The canvassing event was just one in a series of public actions taken by the Mothers Out Front Tree Team to advocate for the town’s urban canopy, and they are determined to get the word out. “Trees are a vital piece of the town’s overall effort to combat climate change, contributing to better air quality by taking up air pollutants and intercepting particulate matter, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, and reducing energy demand,” said Olivia Fischer Fox, who is leading the Mothers Out Front tree effort.
The Mothers Out Front Tree Team has worked closely with Katie Weatherseed, former Conservation Assistant for the Town of Brookline (and now Brookline’s Zero Waste Program Manager) to promote the tree program, identify likely locations for new trees, and improve the online application process. In addition, members of the team purchased copies of a children’s book, A Forest in the City by Andrea Curtis, to donate to all the schools and public libraries in Brookline. One member of the Tree Team, Betsey Dalbeck, purchased 16 copies of this book herself — and personally delivered them to the “Free Little Libraries” in town.
Mothers Out Front also partnered with the Brookline’s Department of Public Works, Brookline GreenSpace Alliance, Olmsted 200, and the Brookline Arts Center on Spring Fest 2022, along with Brookline’s Division of Parks and Open Space, which was held on May 7 at Allerton Overlook in Olmstead Park. The Spring Festival was a celebration of trees, including a kickoff of the Brookline Urban Forest Climate Resiliency Master Plan, and an Arbor Day planting and proclamation.