Inequality is engrained in the trees

Trees combat climate change, clean the air, reduce violence

Zacchaeus tree.Palestine_JerichoOne of those Daily Inspiration quotes actually inspired me. “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

This got me thinking about the dearth of trees in urban areas. As an article in the Grist noted: In America’s cities, inequality is engrained in the trees.

“In the two-year-long study, a team of researchers from the Nature Conservancy found that 92 percent of low-income blocks in the U.S. have less tree cover and hotter average temperatures than high-income blocks. The inequality is most rampant in the Northeast, with some low-income blocks in urban areas having 30 percent less tree cover and average temperatures 4 degrees Celsius higher than high-income blocks.”

Trees may not be racist. But per NPR, Racist Housing Practices From The 1930s Linked To Hotter Neighborhoods Today. In another study “of 108 urban areas nationwide, the formerly redlined neighborhoods of nearly every city studied were hotter than the non-redlined neighborhoods, some by nearly 13 degrees.”

And if you’re not familiar, American Forests can explain. “Redlining was an unethical practice that put financial and other services out of reach for entire neighborhoods where people of color lived. Its name derives from the government-backed practice of drawing red lines on maps to indicate the perceived high risk associated with banks loaning people money to buy homes based on location rather than their individual qualifications.”

Smart Cities Dive notes: “Heat-related impacts also disproportionately impact poor and minority communities, which tend to have less access to green space, and therefore have unequal access to the benefits those spaces provide.” It cites a 2013 study explaining “the disproportionate amount of risk to minority communities. “It’s a serious issue of environmental justice.” Here are 22 benefits of trees.

Oh, Albany

So I was pleased when I saw this link. “Since the Fall of 2020, the City of Albany has focused tree planting in Wards and neighborhoods where the urban forest is most at risk, including in the South End, Arbor Hill, West Hill, and Pine Hills neighborhoods. More than 50% of the 1,000 trees planted since the Fall of 2020 have been planted in these neighborhoods alone.”

I’m sure, because she told me in an email, that the mayor would LOVE churches or other entities to participate. And I’ll bet this is a program that could be replicated in other urban areas.

The great neighborly outdoors

ownership of the tree depends

Tree next to fenceAs I’ve noted, being a homeowner was new to me when we bought this house 19 years ago. Ever since, it’s been a series of neighborly negotiations with various sets of folks.

A couple months ago, a panel of the fence separating us from the the neighbor to the south fell down. The neighbor was irritated with us. He surmised that someone came into our backyard and cut the fixtures holding the fence in place. It DID look cut, but what would be the purpose?

He believed we should have fastened our gate more securely. While it is true that our gate swings open now and then with a stiff breeze, it’s not for lack of trying to correct it. We have had at least three people come and “fix” it, but it remained unfixed.

In fact, one Saturday morning, the latch was somehow positioned so that I could not even leave my own yard. I wonder how it happened? I had to use a large rock to liberate myself from my own property.

The neighborly fellow to the north pointed out that a large branch – about four meters long – that has its roots on our property but overhangs onto his, came crashing down. It may well have been that tree, though he has a similar one on his property.

He claims that the branch nearly came down on his shed, which would have cost US $10,000 to replace. I seriously doubt it’s worth 20% of that, but no matter.

This got me to wondering: who IS responsible for those branches? This article from a Rochester (NY)N newspaper notes:

“In New York, a property owner is responsible for any trees on their property — more specifically, the trees whose trunks are on their property. Ownership of the tree depends on where the trunk of the tree is located, regardless of where the branches are located.

“If a tree trunk is located on a boundary line — sometimes referred to as a ‘boundary tree’ — that tree could be owned by both homeowners, based on the percentage of the tree that is located on each property. Insurance companies will sometimes use those percentages to determine who is liable if a tree comes down and causes property damage.

“A property owner can take down branches that hang over their property — up to the property line, even without permission from the tree owner. However, the law also states that if a homeowner trims branches on a tree and that causes damage to the overall health of the tree, that person could be liable, and might have to pay to replace it.”

In fact there are a lot of articles on the topic. I imagine we’ll get the whole tree trimmed this summer as a precaution, though we may ask he neighbor to kick in on the cost.

The falling leaves, and other parts

Alexander Hamilton was the most significant immigrant in early US history.

maple treeYou can blame Jaquandor for much of this post. A bit ago, he linked to this lovely poem about an old maple tree coming down.

I don’t think I pay attention to the trees, or nature generally, enough. A few months ago, a huge branch fell from our tree, a maple as it turns out, in the farthest part of the back yard. The massive branch, too heavy for me to move, barely missed the shed, but it turned into an accordion our compost container.

Just recently, the branches have been removed, and the tree is now clipped, but still massive. The last time said the tree was trimmed, we were told it may need to come down altogether in a few years if the clipping doesn’t help it regenerate. That’d be too bad, for it provides great shade.

Meanwhile, nearer to the house, an oak tree has sprung up. It wasn’t even there when we moved in in 2000, and we didn’t plant it, but it is thriving nonetheless.
Also, Jaquandor did one of his random Wednesday Conversation starter questions. To wit:

“Should we get rid of the dollar bill in favor of a coin?
“And what changes would you make to US currency in general?”

Yes to the dollar coin (which Americans seem to have rejected). This still bugs me. The US Mint continues to make the Presidential dollar coins, four each year. 2015 brings Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, which I’ll buy in November from a vendor at thrice face value because they are no longer distributed to the banks.

Take Jackson off the $20 bill and put Harriet Tubman on it.

Leave the damn $10 bill alone; Alexander Hamilton was the most significant immigrant in early US history, he was a founding father, I attend what was his church (albeit a different building), AND they’ve made a cool, hip hop Broadway musical about him. (The junior senator from our state agrees about Hamilton and the $10.)

Someone else suggested getting rid of the penny, which cost way more than its face value to mint; I’d be good with that as well. Canada has one dollar and two-dollar coins, as well as no more pennies, which pretty much ensures that the United States will maintain the status quo.
When I visit Blogger blogs to make comments, usually for ABC Wednesday, I HATE the setting by which one has to verify one is not a robot by picking all the steaks, or salads, or whatever. The pics are small enough that it is really a hassle.

And it’s worse when the instructions are in, e.g., French. I had to pick out the “boisson”, which, oddly, I remembered from high school French as some sort of drink, but still.

I also hate the ones that ask me to do a math problem, and the word numbers are in, German. I guessed it was four plus two, but it’s likewise a pain.

Revealing deep dark secrets

Blogging has set ME free too.

Amy, who wields that Sharp Little Pencil wrote:

If you were a tree… oh, never mind.

I’ll tell you anyway. It’s a chestnut tree. In my neighborhood, I remember collecting horse chestnuts, which were inedible, because they were a pretty dark brown, and so smooth. I’d collect them for a while, and then dump them to pick new ones in the new season.

How about this: If you had one of those “shameful secrets,” would you speak out about it?

I only wonder because I write a lot about being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (usually most women’s “secret” and a shame that can grow like a pustule in your gut) and my past drug use and my mental illness all the time. I get notes from folks saying, “I can’t believe you said that.” And yet, it gives me back my own power. I live life on my own terms and write what I want.

It’s difficult to say in the abstract. I wasn’t sexually abused. I tried cocaine once and didn’t like it; think of the scene in Annie Hall. Even marijuana, which was readily available in the 1970s, was something I could take or leave.

If I were to have become addicted to anything, it would have been pharmaceuticals. My father once gave me one of his sleeping pills, and it felt SO good, it scared me. I tend to avoid them for that very reason.

I’ve told you about getting arrested and being briefly married 40 years ago. I’ve shared more about my parents because they’re both deceased. Haven’t told some other details about my life because it involves other people who are still alive. (My college ex-wife is still alive, too, but I figure the statute of limitations has run out.)

I WILL say that getting older has been rather liberating in this area. It’s a combination of the passage of time since some events, and my understanding of my mortality, which has generated a degree of freedom.

Blogging – and therapy – have set me free. Love your blog, Rog, and you are wonderful. Amy

Blogging has set ME free too. Love your blog, Amy, and you’re wonderful as well.
More Chris:

If you were a character in a book or a comic, what would your standard or symbol be?

A green peace symbol, maybe with some prongs at the end like a trident. Peaceful, but I have my limits.

I’ll ask this one like I asked Jaquandor: Have you ever fantasized about being a female character in a novel or a story?

Yes, and she really kicked butt.

Actually, any number of characters run through my brain. None of them are coherent enough to write down.

A little bit more specific question than “ask about racism”: have you mentioned the Cinna/ Hunger Games thing [to the Daughter]? She’s the right age for Hunger Games and I can say for me that struck me as a huge example of “Wow, racism has gotten complicated but is still lurking around behind people’s eyes.”

I haven’t watched/read Hunger Games. My sense, though, is that it’s too intense for her. There have been other things that were age-appropriate but just terrified her.

To the specific question: I’ve seldom worried what the fanboy/fangirl base says about anything. (I used to sell comic books.) That said, I’ve long favored unexpected casting. If I were enough of a fan, I’d be watching that show Elementary with Lucy Lui, an Asian woman, as Dr. Watson to Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes.

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