Help the Northside “Treecover” This Weekend

“Once there was a tree … and she loved a little boy.”

Quick! Name the book!

Give up? It’s one of my favorite children’s books, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein—a story about greed and guilt, and eventually forgiveness, generosity, and acceptance—all from a tree’s point of view. (I know there are critics out there who think the book is patriarchal or offensive, “What?! The little boy takes and takes and the tree has no self-respect and she just gives and gives until the boy is an old, hunched-over man and the tree is nothing but a stump, how is that ok!?,” but I don’t view it like that. To me, the story has always been more about how our actions have consequences, we should be appreciative of the gifts we receive, and we have to protect our environment and use its resources judiciously, or there will be nothing left.)

Adam and a treeJust like in the book, trees can give us a climbing structure when we’re young (many times I climbed the giant pine tree in my parents’ front yard when I was a kid, lucky to walk away with only minor branch scratches and sticky sap on my hands and clothes); they can give us wood, shade, apples, and improve air and water quality. They provide a habitat for wildlife. They have the power to beautify a landscape. They can increase property values.

From May 15-19, the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board is hosting an Arbor Week Celebration, with corporations planting more than 1,000 boulevard trees in the tornado-hit areas of the Willard Hay, Jordan, and Folwell neighborhoods of North Minneapolis. Arbor Week will culminate with a community planting event at Folwell Park tomorrow, May 19, in partnership with the Camden Lions, the Lions Club International, and Minneapolis Parks Foundation. (Corporate sponsors are Best Buy, Cargill, and Xcel Energy.)

“Arbor Week is a great opportunity for local businesses and community members to come together around the shared vision of reforesting the Northside,” says Jon Olson, second district commissioner. “The Park Board’s initiative was to replace 3,100 trees by spring 2012, and thanks to the overwhelming response by community volunteers and the support of our corporate sponsors, we will achieve that goal.”

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is raising funding for 400 trees to help the Northside “treecover.” The tax-deductible cost of planting one tree is only $120, and returns a lifetime of individual and community benefits. Donate any amount to the Northside “re-leaf” effort.

There are still opportunities available to volunteer for the May 19 community event. For full details, visit and search using activity numbers 16612 and 16613.