Turning over a new leaf in Atlanta

I love trees. What’s the downside? They keep you cool, give you something to climb, provide you with hours of entertainment looking up into them, change colors, sway in the wind, act as bird highrises, and screen your view of other people. All good.

Photo by Steve Sanchez

Sure, you have to rake their leaves in the fall, but even that’s fun if you like jumping in big piles. From an ecological point of view, of course, trees improve air quality, remove ground water pollution, reduce carbon, noise, energy use and erosion….and will probably save our planet if we’ll only let them.

Trees Atlanta is a champion of trees and, in my book, a bunch of rock stars. Every weekend from October through March, you’ll see volunteers of all ages, out in neighborhoods planting trees. The organization was founded in 1985 to protect Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving and educating folks about trees – and they’ve taken that mission and run with it. In 25 years, they’ve planted more than 75,000 shade trees, cared for another 100,000 trees, inspired 3,500 volunteers to regularly turn out and plant alongside neighbors in programs like

Putting down roots in the ATL

NeighborWoods,and been instrumental in planning the world’s longest arboretum: Atlanta’s long-awaited and ever-elusive 22-mile BeltLine project: a loop of unused railways lines and adjacent parks that when finally realized, will increase the greenspace, livability and community of Atlanta beyond description.

For everything Trees Atlanta does to beautify and improve this city that is more in need of shade than anything (except a vastly extended public transit system and a reduction in tennis fanatics and fried foods), I’m giving my $100 contribution today. I’ll leave you with this Joyce Kilmer poem that my mother, a lifelong tree- hugger, copied into her book of favorite poems when she was 16 (although I’m still amazed she could bring herself to type “breast” and “bosom”):



Joyce Kilmer, one of the leading poets of his generation, was killed in World War I at the Second Battle of Marne in 1918. He was 31.

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast:

A tree that looks at God all day

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lies with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.