City of Trees Branches Out

It began with an idea…

Instead of asking students in our local schools to create frog art with Frogs Are Green for Earth Day (like most years), I thought they might like to create “tree art” and this could help the Jersey City Parks Coalition spread the word about their initiative to plant 2,020 trees by 2020. So when I suggested this idea and expanding it to include painting their visions on store windows, the JCPC loved it and we contacted the CASID (Central Avenue Special Improvement District).

Last Fall, the CASID had 100 students paint Halloween images on storefront windows along Central Avenue and David Diaz had mentioned to me that they might be interested in an Earth Day event.

A few days later as I was walking over to see Laura Skolar, President of the Jersey City Parks Coalition (JCPC) about the concept. I had come up with the brand and walked in saying… How’s “City of Trees!”

Laura’s eyes lit up and she passed it by the other board members and it was approved. Next up was the logo design and after many variations, we had the logo.

City of Trees logo for the Jersey City Parks Coalition - Design by Susan Newman

City of Trees logo for the Jersey City Parks Coalition – design by Susan Newman

We started building the brand visibility online and offline!

There was another cause in place called, Jersey City Street Trees with Nick Milak and he was partnering up with the JCPC to help facilitate the planting of the trees around town and educate the community on tree care. I released the Facebook name to him and changed ours to City of Trees Culture.

During this time I had emailed Ann Marley, District Manager, art programs for the Jersey City Board of Education and asked if the students would like to participate in the City of Trees education and art project and paint the Central Avenue store windows. I’m happy to report that 110 students from 10 schools responded and in addition to the online gallery, they will be painting the store windows along Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights on *May 26th. In addition, our Mayor, Steven Fulop, will visit Central Ave to see the students and teachers in action and be joined by the community as we make this an event day! (*Because of the PARCC testing, this Earth Day/Arbor Day project had to be delayed until May.)

Jimmy-Ngo-age8-PS30-Spadola

Jimmy Ngo, age 8, PS 30, Jersey City. Art Teacher, Spadola.

As the project grew, I was asked to design a second logo for a project within all of this called the “Tree Lover’s Crew.” Currently we are down to three options and I await the JCPC’s decision.

I am also writing the “City of Trees” curriculum for grades 4-8, which will be a combination of learning about trees and tree care along with creativity projects such as writing, artwork, yoga, etc… so that we are building a course that is unique and also core curriculum.


 

The Jersey City Parks Coalition has boosted the brand/logo and initiative:

  • Press conference about “City of Trees” in City Hall
  • 5K run on Earth Day in Liberty State Park and the banner everyone ran under at the start had the logo on it
  • City of Trees table at both Liberty State Park and in front of City Hall during Earth Day festivals where they gave away free little trees and literature
  • 22 artworks by students are hanging inside City Hall in the Caucus Room

The City of Jersey City has now committed to helping plant 5,000 trees by 2020!
 

The SAP becomes “City of Trees”

At the same time Goldman Sacs became the education and engagement sponsor for the JCPC and when Laura told them about our work on City of Trees, they decided to make “City of Trees” their student art project for 2016.

From May 21st through the Fall, 40 select students will participate in an educational and cultural experience. As part of the education and visibility efforts, I will be at the Jersey City Reservoir on May 21st for the first gathering of students and instructors, taking notes, photographs and video so what develops can be incorporated into the cultural aspects of the lessons in the curriculum I’m writing.
 

A Tree Canopy Study

The plantings will help restore the declining tree canopy throughout the City. The Parks Coalition will determine the planting locations based on a recent Tree Canopy Study commissioned by the Jersey City Environmental Commission that found Jersey City has only a 17% tree canopy when a city our size should have more like 44%.

There is so much more to come as this initiative branches out! Stay tuned.

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