If you’ve ever flown into Atlanta, and that’s about 100,000,000 passengers per year, you’ve certainly noticed one thing as you soar over the city: the trees. Atlanta’s urban canopy gives it an enduring nickname – City in a Forest, and towering pride if not a-plenty of pollen. These green guardians beautify our neighborhoods, clean our air, and cool our homes, but it takes a community to ensure they’re around for all to enjoy. In honor of Earth Day, Arbor Day and Springtime in the Peach State, we thought it’d be fun to celebrate the season with a look back at our roots and the shade they provide. This month we take a look at trees with a few friends who help keep Atlanta green, the conversation colorful.
As a growing metropolis it can be difficult to ensure our developmental haste doesn’t destroy the abundance of green space that makes Atlanta so special. That’s where Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director and Chief Program Officer of Trees Atlanta, plants a strong foot forward. Greg lives, eats (well, not really), and breathes trees, having planted his first tree, a purple leafed Japanese maple, when he was just five years of age. Gene and Greg talk special projects like The BeltLine Arboretum, the purpose and prodigy of planting, public art, and a good bit about the people populating the tree community.
In the 1970′s Jennie Richardson got a notice that a freeway was going to transplant her home and pave over the historic Olmstead Linear Park, so she got her hands dirty for peace of mind. Frederick Law Olmstead, the “Father of Landscape Architecture” designed the Olmsted Linear Park in the 1890’s as place for residents of the city to enjoy the outdoors. For forty years Jennie has fought to preserve and protect one of the city’s oldest parks, her efforts now turned toward perpetuation. Jennie stops by to discuss the history and heritage of Olmstead, the important responsibility we all share to preserve the forest, plus what you can do to support the Olmstead Linear Park Alliance.
The Tree Cowboy, aka Wayne Shannon, is an ISA Certified Arborist/urban forest conservation manager. A soon to be Masters graduate from Georgia Tech, this Tree Cowboy, is full of deep thoughts and practical information. Wayne joins Gene to explore life in the tree tops and to talk about the many sides of timber. From counting rings to common sense safety issues, from helping a homeowner to providing notable chefs with hardwood for their grills, there is much more to the life – and death – of a tree than we see from 30,000 feet.
Artist Daniel Blignaut sees trees like he sees life, in colorful shades of seasonality and cycle. Calling upon sapling memories from his own upbringing, Blignaut paints the canvas with a childlike innocence meets Masters in Architecture style, creating his own language for discourse about human emotion, philosophy, primal patterns, aesthetic beauty, and psychology through physicality. Through Blignaut’s stunning exhibition, “A Conversation with Trees”, Atlantans have the ability to create their own dialogue by visiting the Bill Lowe Gallery for an Opening Night Reception with the artist on April 26th, coincidentally both Arbor Day and Frederick Law Olmstead’s birthday.
We’ve got quite the show, so take a quick break from reveling in the great outdoors and please enjoy.
Special thanks to Nicholas Cooper-Kedrick for his help in producing this episode of Sidewalk Radio and for writing our web post for this month.