Partnership helps Chicagoans plant trees in underserved neighborhoods » Yale Climate Connections

During a storm, trees help absorb excess water. And on hot days they provide cooling shade.

But in many cities, decades of disinvestment have left low-income communities of color with few trees.

Bweza Itaagi works at Grow Greater Englewood, a nonprofit organization based in a predominantly black neighborhood of Chicago.

Itaagi: “Englewood has some of the highest temperatures in the city. And… when it rains, we have significant flooding throughout the area because many of the spaces are vacant and very paved.”

That’s why her group is participating in the Tree Ambassador program, an initiative led by the Morton Arboretum in partnership with the city to plant trees in under-resourced areas.

Residents receive training and funding to become community tree advocates. They explore planting locations and lead workshops to get others involved.

After people choose where they want trees, advocates apply to the city for them, and their requests are prioritized.

Itaagi: “Some trees were planted within 30 days, which is important because the usual process can take months.”

She says investing in Englewood’s trees can help protect people from climate change and repair some of the neglect the community has suffered.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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