April 27, 2013

"There’s a strong relationship between how many dollars you have and how many trees you request to be planted in your neighborhood."

Said Earl Eutsler, of Washington D.C.’s Urban Forestry Administration.
Eutsler mapped requests to the city for trees along streets last year and found a heavy concentration in Northwest and Capitol Hill but merely a sprinkling in the city’s poorest wards.

Doris Gudger of Anacostia is among those who see little to like about lots of trees. When city crews showed up one recent day and planted some in front of her rowhouse in Southeast Washington, she wanted them gone.

The pollen would aggravate her allergies, she said. The leaves would be a pain to rake. The shade would draw drug dealers. And, she feared, soon would follow affluent gentrifiers and higher taxes, pushing out older residents like herself.
Environmentalists are pushing city trees, and that policy meshes with the values of the affluent, so that lots of trees make a neighborhood look affluent, and you might think it would be good to bestow trees on the poorer neighborhoods, but what if poor people don't like trees?

What should happen to the pro-tree policy if people in poor neighborhoods don't like trees?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

58 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I loathe and despise the tree in front of my house. If I had my way, I'd cut it down right now, it's nothing but an unsightly, glorified weed.

And can someone tell me why the city allows MG&E the unquestioned right to vandalize all city trees? I know that limbs in Power Lines are a pain, but why does the City sanction this propping up of MG&E's bottom line?

The Drill SGT said...

And to think that most of the Anacostia residents got their Pigford checks :)

Seriously, I think that streets need trees, and having the city do it provides some judgement on viable locations and types of trees.

Putting them only where people want them is the way to go however. Anything else is just wasting scarce city resources...

God forbid that the nice black lady should live in an area whose property values went up.

Oso Negro said...

I never realized this to be more than a local phenomenon until now. I have offered to plant trees for local black neighbors in Galveston, and they have declined, citing the amount of mess trees create.

rhhardin said...

My Norway Maple has planted a thousand trees this year on its own.

edutcher said...

The city usually takes care of the trees.

Interesting the one woman didn't want "gentrifiers". God forbid they improve the place.

Chip S. said...

Maybe she rents.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

the District — which has one of the highest levels of income inequality among the nation’s cities.

Time to make all the rich people in DC pay even more of their fair share.

El Pollo Real said...

Out here in CA, suburban trees mean work which you either do yourself or you pay someone to do. Some neighbors, strapped for time, just cut them down to simplify yard maintenance. Others employ yard workers. I am my lawn's own gardener.

The old school urban model had trees on the berm in the city's care. It's not about aesthetics, but economics.

El Pollo Real said...

MadisonMan said...
I loathe and despise the tree in front of my house. If I had my way, I'd cut it down right now, it's nothing but an unsightly, glorified weed.

Proves my point.

ricpic said...

Summertime...and the drug dealin's easy...
Trees are shady...and the cops are shy...
Oh your Ma's a scout....hidden Pa feeds a habit...
So hush little baby...don't you cry.

Freder Frederson said...

My God Ann. They interviewed one crank who doesn't like trees and you extrapolate that to draw a general conclusion that poor people hate trees.

You are getting about as lazy as Instapundit.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Love of trees is definitely a rich/poor divide. I lived in a really sketchy neighborhood for a few years. There was one street I had to walk down that had trees and nasty overgrown shrubs. People would get robbed and a few rapes because criminals could hide behind trees and jump people and pull them into the shrubs.

I'm a big guy and I was always a relieved when I came to the next street that had no trees or bushes. Just straight flat concrete and asphalt. I can imagine how women or older people feel.

edutcher said...

The WaPo used her as an example.

As always, Freder is the lazy one.

Renee said...

Just plant the trees.

The fallen leaves will cover up the litter, no one bothers to pick up.

I say that as someone who lives in a poor neighborhood.

Cedarford said...

Maybe it should be looked at further to see if it reflects cultural, even racial preferences.

I notice that the purveyors of trees and "urban gardens" for the black underclass - not just in DC but in several cities - are liberal white do-gooders. Many that even plant,till and weed the gardens they set up if the black underclass is disinclined to.

It is commonly known that Europeans, European immigrants to America - consider trees a part of farmsteads, town planning, feel a need to have green parks and forest set-asides.
Asians also seem to consider trees and green spaces desirable.
What is the Black race history on that in their native African parts of the world, their recent cities...and parts of the New World where blacks have the majority?
Do they consider areas where people are as reclaimed from the jungle and best with no trees or vegetation?

Sorun said...

Poor people prefer shiny rims.

El Pollo Real said...

MadisonMan said...
I loathe and despise the tree in front of my house. If I had my way, I'd cut it down right now, it's nothing but an unsightly, glorified weed.

Meade should start a business in Madison selling arboreal makeovers. Of course, he'd have to sell the mature, leafy look to customers but deliver only youthful trees, but that's where he could sell computer enhanced street views, a little imagination, plus hope & change.

Bob said...

> People who don't like trees should be taught to like them. Then, if they do, plant trees.

This is ambiguous. I think people who don't like trees should indeed be taught to like them, and to understand why they can and will improve the neighborhood. But that education isn't the government's responsibility -- there are a hundred civic, environmental, and educational organizations that should be doing it. Let persuasion work out in a free society to effect change in attitudes; don't have the government impose trees on people.

Hagar said...

Trees also take a lot of water.
So, what is with remove your grass and spread gravel in your yard to save water, but yeah, we want trees in every yard and all our medians?

Hagar said...

Trees also take a lot of water.
So, what is with remove your grass and spread gravel in your yard to save water, but yeah, we want trees in every yard and all our medians?

David Davenport said...

What should happen to the pro-tree policy if people in poor neighborhoods don't like trees?

Run the low class people out of town.

Problem solved.

traditionalguy said...

Sacred trees are nobody's business except for the Land's Owner. It's his garden to tend and not yours.

The myth believers in a Tree Shortage have been sold a fantasy so the Cities can add a new level of Departmental Jobs for friends Bureaucracy that holds the land owners' trees for ransom and requires bribes be paid to modern day pirates calling themselves Arborists.

Worshiping nature is stupid. Worshiping Forests of Trees is doubly stupid. There is a perfectly good Hebrew God that can be worshiped whenever you feel the need to worship a god, and He is not in TREE IDOLS.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Wow, the idea of someone actively disliking trees has never entered my brain until this moment. I thought you only cut down trees if they're about to fall on your house. Also, that there's no such thing as too many trees. Maybe because I grew up in a place that looks like this. I tend to forget that some people, you know, maintain trees.

jacksonjay said...


WWBD - What Would Bloomberg Do?

David said...

The actual answer in practice: Government and the envros know best. Your opinion is wrong and therefore does not count.

AllenS said...

You can't make bling out of trees.

ricpic said...

Wealthy orientals often pave over the grounds around their homes. Californians, well white Californians, will tell you just how "charming" they find that cultural trait.

edutcher said...

Cedarford said...

Maybe it should be looked at further to see if it reflects cultural, even racial preferences.

I notice that the purveyors of trees and "urban gardens" for the black underclass - not just in DC but in several cities - are liberal white do-gooders. Many that even plant,till and weed the gardens they set up if the black underclass is disinclined to.

It is commonly known that Europeans, European immigrants to America - consider trees a part of farmsteads, town planning, feel a need to have green parks and forest set-asides.
Asians also seem to consider trees and green spaces desirable.
What is the Black race history on that in their native African parts of the world, their recent cities...and parts of the New World where blacks have the majority?
Do they consider areas where people are as reclaimed from the jungle and best with no trees or vegetation?


He forgot, "Enjoy the decline, racists".

campy said...

Let the government decide where the trees should go. They know best. Who cares what the people want?

David Davenport said...

Worshiping nature is stupid. Worshiping Forests of Trees is doubly stupid. There is a perfectly good Hebrew God that can be worshiped whenever you feel the need to worship a god, and He is not in TREE IDOLS.

Hence the traditional ______ preference for huddling together in high density urban neighborhoods?

MaxedOutMama said...

As for the city not planting trees in residential neighborhoods, usually it's the case that cities won't allow residents to plant trees. The roots of some species can be very destructive to roads and sidewalks. When cities do plant trees, they plant certain species in locations in which they are believed sustainable. Therefore I don't think one of your poll options is viable.

I don't think planting trees in neighborhoods in which people don't want them is a good idea. What ever happened to the idea of "public service"?

Mitchell the Bat said...

Doris Gudger would benefit immensely from a good stomping administered by Treebeard or some other Ent.

David Davenport said...

I don't think planting trees in neighborhoods in which people don't want them is a good idea. What ever happened to the idea of "public service"?

It is a great public service to gentrify low class neighborhoods.

Tree planting is part of gentrification.

David Wharton said...

I think our love of trees in urban areas probably dates back only to the turn of the 20th century with the urban designs of Frederick Law Olmstead and the City Beautiful movement.

Most European cities I've visited -- Italian ones, at least -- are almost completely barren of plant life except in parks.

AllenS said...

Two years ago I planted 25 Norway spruce on a steep hill that I cut all of the box elders down and hauled that wood away. Last year I planted 25 balsam firs in the same area. This year, in fact, today, I'll plant 25 white cedar in the same area. When they get bigger, I'll hide out there and wait for Freder to walk by.

edutcher said...

FWIW, I think some of the more northerly cities in Europe may have been an exception.

wyo sis said...

AllenS

I guess the ground has thawed at last. I love that you're planting evergreens. It sounds beautiful. Freder won't go near it.

ALP said...

AllenS: you are ON FIRE today!

ALP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllenS said...

Ugh! Well, that didn't take long, and no, the ground hasn't thawed out yet. Frost at about 3". This is a steep hill facing east, and the snow has been off of it for a while.

AllenS said...

Thanks, ALP. When you'r hot, you'r hot.

Sam L. said...

edutcher, of course she doesn't want 'gentrifiers'--she'll be moved out, or have to move out, of the neighborhood.

And, gov't and liberals should face the fact that giving the poor the trappings of those more wealthy does not make the poor more wealthy.

And as they say in Nort' Dakotah, there's a woman (or a mugger) behind every tree--which is why there are so few trees.

Big Mike said...

Tree-planting is another "service" that the city can do without spending money on. The city is forever poor-mouthing about its need to spend more money on schools (though its school spending is already roughly $30,000per pupil per year) but they have money to run around affluent neighborhoods planting trees.

Basta! said...

I had a huge maple in my front yard that slowly disintegrated, crushing fences and cars as limbs fell off. I finally had to have it cut down. Same thing happened to a neighbor's elm, and now this stretch of the street looks rather barren. But I don't miss keeping the sewer cleared of leaves, or constantly pulling up dozens of saplings.

The city of Boston is pushing a tree program, where they'll plant one on the sidewalk in front of your house, but the few types they offer are ugly. A couple of neighbors to the other side had the city put in some kind of maple, and even after several years, these trees are spindly and sparsely leaved and look pathetic.

Now, if they'd agree to something like an allée of pleached limes, we might be in business.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The correlation is likely between leisure time and labor or character and sacrifice.

The problem is two-fold. First, people with less money are likely to be distracted by other issues of more immediate concern or with more enjoyable prospects. Second, unsuccessful people are less likely to make an investment with an intangible outcome. This is not related to their low income, but their individual character development.

This is why welfare programs sponsor poverty. There is a manufactured dissociation of risk, which distorts individual priorities and perceptions, thereby encouraging corruption. The corruption is progressive because often the provider of welfare products and services has no stake in realizing a positive outcome. This is always a concern with any redistributive change policy.

Æthelflæd said...

Trees can be costly, too, when they fall through the roof of your house or car. This is a big factor in the south, where hurricanes and tornados runw wild. I prefer to have the shade, but I undertand why poor people might say "no thanks".

Steve Koch said...

Even little kids in my neck of the woods know what a chain saw sounds like cuz they hear them so much. Trees are beautiful but there is definitely a cost associated with them, especially the really big trees. You have to keep them well trimmed which is a challenge if the dead limb is 80 feet up the tree. I had a very tall pine die from pine beetles this spring, I had it cut down the same day
I noticed it was dead, it cost about $500 to cut it down. Dead trees are more dangerous to work on as they deteriorate and pose more and more danger to people and property.

virgil xenophon said...

A true story about the attitudes of "inner city" "low income" denizens involving a Wisc gal who moved to New Orleans: Back circa 1996 a 40-something red-head divorcee from Wisc who had owned a landscape service moved next door to us. She had gotten her teaching certificate and was well and truly imbued with the "progresssive" spirit of helping our nations inner city youth. She got a job teaching at Live Oak Middle School, one of the, ah, shall we say, more "problematic" schools in N.O. (She taught 8th grade and had a 19-yr-old in her class, just to give you the flavor of the deal) Well, she thought it would help the self-esteem of her charges by getting them to take pride in their school by planting floweres and shrubs on the grounds.

I followed the progress of her project via meeting at my favorite neighborhood bar for drinks with my spy friend of mine who was the head Maint trouble-shooter for the N.O. Public Schools and floated from school to school as needed and who just happened to be spending a lot of time correcting problems at Live Oak that spring. He described her captive audience as near mutinous, with much grumbling as they grudgingly planted the greenery in the heat and the dust. Later, after they had driven her to quit mid-term, they ripped out all the plants save one single, miserable solitary flower...

LOL. So much for progressive do-gooderism..

Unknown said...

We ALL need oxygen, so trees should be planted everywhere.

El Pollo Real said...

@virgil: They probably had nothing against plant life--just redheads and fair skin.

Basta! said...

A 19 year old in the 8th grade --- gotta love it.

There was a girl in my 5th grade class, I don't recall exactly how old she was, but it was old enough to give birth. After which, she dropped out.

David Davenport said...

Sacred Earth Oak Tree

Oak trees are an image of endurance, vigor and sturdiness. Naturally, our ancestors associated it with the king of the Gods, Jupiter/Zeus/Thor, the God of thunder and lightening, a deity who embodies the qualities of strength, power and potency. The majestic Oak trees were considered his earthly abode. Oak trees are said to extend as far below the ground as they reach up into the heavens, thus encompassing Underworld and Heavens alike. In Norse/Germanic mythology Thor/Donar/Wodan is a shamanic God who traverses these realms on his eight-legged stallion 'Sleipnir'. When he passes we hear the noise of his mount's thundering hooves as he gallops through the skies. ...

This kind of awe and respect was harshly ended by the fanatical christianizing efforts of the church, which went on an outright campaign against tree worship. A particularly keen clergyman named Bonifatius made it his mission to stamp out this 'idolizing pagan tree worship'. Under the protection of the army of the Holy Roman Emperor he turned his zeal against the famous Donar Oak, determined to slay it down. In the face of such an overpowering display of force there was little that the mortified 'heathens' could do. Anyone who would raise arms against Bonifatius was as good as dead. Thus, they simply stood by and watched in horror, secretly hoping that Thor himself would avenge such an act of sacrilege by striking the offender down with one of his mighty lightening bolts - but no such thing happened and thus the first exemplary case had been set.

Many more sacred Oaks died this sad martyr death in the course of Bonifatius campaign, until he came to the Friesens (Northern Germany/Holland) who were not at all amused and wouldn't have any of it. When he laid his axe on their sacred Oak, they quickly took up arms and struck him dead instead.

Despite all this persecution tree worship would not die out ...

...

In [northern Celtic]druidic times the Oak played a particularly important role and not just as the host for the Mistletoe, which was the holiest of sacred plants in druidic lore. The very name 'Druid' is derived from the Celtic word for Oak - 'duir' meaning door. Duir, door, Tür, Tor, can all be traced back to the Sanskrit root 'DWR', which also means 'door'. Traditionally, doors were made of Oak, as this is the strongest and toughest wood. It is also a wood of protection and thus wards off any evil spirits.

Esoterically, the door represents a threshold or 'in-between space', a time and place between the worlds. Robert Graves notes: ' In the Celtic tree alphabet the Oak is the seventh tree, holy to all the thunder Gods - Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, the Dagda, Thor and Jehovah in so far as he was El and Allah. The fires for the human sacrifice of the Oak king of Nemi on Midsummer Day were always fuelled with Oak.'

The worship and sacrifice of the Oak king refers to a very ancient tradition according to which the kings' role was to ensure the fertility of the land. He was, in effect a human representative of the divine life force or vegetation spirit. When the king had become old and feeble he was challenged by a young hero who's task was to kill the king and thus claiming the role of king for himself thereby transferring the life-force from the old to the young. The king is dead - long live the king! This theme still echoes in the familiar legend of the fisher king and the grail castle. ...

el polacko said...

i've worked for decades on creating an arboreal, park-like setting in my urban yard and have extended my efforts to planting on the traffic diverter median on the corner. back in the day, when the 'hood was predominately black, i would wake in the morning to find that my plants had been uprooted in the night..i'd re-plant only to find them uprooted again...somebody didn't like any sort of improvements.
years have passed and the neighborhood demographics have gradually changed to what is now the most racially-diverse area imaginable.
my white neighbors (largely of the gay and lesbian variety) often comment on how 'charming' and even 'magical' my yard is and thank me for my efforts beyond my own property, offerring additional plants and their much-appreciated assistance. their yards are, similar to my own, full of flowers, rocks, pots, and sculpture. my hispanic neighbors say that things 'look nice', keep their own yards neat but spare, but never consider pitching in to help improve our shared surroundings. my asian neighbors smile and nod approvingly but move on without much to say...their own yards may feature a well-tended rose bush or two but are otherwise paved-over as noted above (my fave is when they paint the concrete green to suggest a lawn). my black neighbors just don't get any of it at all. they'll ask when i'm 'gonna cut down dem weeds' in my yard and have no problem with trashing and trampling the corner...you can tell from their side-long glances that they think i'm crazy to be out there cleaning up and watering. it seems to be less about a fear of 'gentrification' (that's pretty much already happened anyway) than just a totally different aesthetic, or rather a lack of one.
i have no theories nor explanations for any of this. some people are going to appreciate a new planting and some people aren't...and, for whatever reason, in my experience it does largely depend on ethnicity.

Palladian said...

I have allergies too, but I love trees & plants. Doris needs to quit whining and deal with it. Or maybe we can send her to Mars.

Donna B. said...

I live in a middle-class, fully integrated (1/2 white, 1/2 black) middle class neighborhood in the South.

My white neighbors and I cut down trees when we have to. Pine beetles have killed a lot of trees on this street.

My black neighbors seem to want clear lots with luxuriously green, neatly mowed lawns and minimal ornamental landscaping. Their yards are tidy, and... rather uninteresting. Several have cut all the trees on their lots.

And though visually uninteresting (though not ugly or displeasing) to me, their efforts probably increase the value of the property -- it certainly does not decrease the value.

There are a few odd people of both races who... well, tend to let things go. There are more whites than blacks in this category, including my white household.

Overall, my observations in my neighborhood and in the areas I travel to lend support to the idea that blacks like clean (unemcumbered by "landscaping" and trees) lawns and that they care for those lawns better than their white neighbors.

I don't think this is a "bad" thing at all, especially when we're trying to clean up from the five large pine trees and three huge oak trees in our yard. I think my black neighbors may be smarter than we are when it comes to trees in residential areas.

That said, my family has acres of timberland. Those trees are different. They aren't really pretty and I wouldn't want one of them in my yard... but they are a renewable resource. We cut, we plant. Think of us next time you buy a ream of paper.

However, this post is irrelevant where I live because trees are plentiful here... requests to cut one down would outpace requests to plant every day of the week.

It's probable that cutting trees down increases property values here. But there is that white preference for more trees, shrubbery, greenery, etc.

That strong relationship between trees and money is regional -- unless it's in reference to the upper class where all races tend to opt for more elaborate landscaping.

And why is a government (on any level) doing the planting?

Kirk Parker said...

Misplaced Pants,

Wow, are you from Forks or thereabouts?



David D.,

Actually, oaks of Britain were sacred mainly due to their role in producing ships of the line.

Jeff Hall said...

Poverty and asthma are strongly correlated, so it is not surprising that more people in poor neighborhoods will be distrustful of pollen-producing trees being planted outside of their houses.