"Love Your Street Tree Day" Empowers Neighbors to Become Stewards of Tree Beds and Streets on the Upper West Side

May 17, 2016 - The Upper West Side will hold the Second Annual "Love Your Street Tree Day" on Sunday, May 22nd, a day that empowers local residents to become stewards of the trees and sidewalks in their neighborhood, hosted by the West 80's Neighborhood Association in partnership with local elected officials, City agencies, non-profits, and local businesses.

Members of the community will restore tree beds with mulch and compost, which allows the trees to absorb more nutrients and rain water, reducing flooding and the amount of waste that gets diverted into our waterways during storms. This year volunteers can also take part in an audit and cleanup of sidewalk and tree bed litter, the results of which should offer insight in how to reduce street trash in the future.

The event kicks off at noon at The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers (UAGC) garden on Amsterdam Avenue and West 84th Street, the largest school garden in the New York City.

Residents can pick up tree care toolkits from the garden and clean up their favorite tree bed around the neighborhood. The toolkits contain gardening tools and supplies donated by Lowe's and Beacon Paint, a much in demand “Love Your Tree” curb your dog sign donated by Curb Allure tree guards, reusable shopping bags from Citizens Committee for NYC, and materials from the NYC Department of Sanitation, and other free educational items. Mulch and compost for the tree beds were donated by the New York Restoration Project, the NYC Parks Department, and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and compostable bags were donated by Commit To Green. There will be a raffle for tree bed flowers being donated by Trees NY.

Formerly known as "Love Your Tree Day," this year's event is called "Love Your Street Tree Day" to highlight a broader emphasis on urban street trees and the streets and sidewalks themselves. The LEAF (Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future) high school students of The Nature Conservancy will organize a trash audit to determine the composition of the neighborhood's street litter. As residents clean up litter, they will document their findings in a survey created by the students and deliver the surveys to Council Member Helen Rosenthal's office as part of an ongoing effort to reduce litter in the neighborhood.

The UAGC garden will host street tree bed care demonstrations by Trees NY and Goddard Riverside Green Keepers, a worm bin composting demonstration by the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and welcome desks run by UAGC high school students. Residents who come to volunteer will receive eats donated by Jacob's Pickles restaurant and pour over service donated by Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. The high school students learn event management through a program run by the Insurgo Project and Jacob's Digs, the non-profit run by Jacob's Pickles to support urban farming in New York City.

"The Upper West Side has too much litter, too many rats, and too many tree beds in need of attention. On Love Your Street Tree Day, we will join together as a community to clean up tree beds and sidewalks, improve soil health with mulch and compost, and place 'curb your dog' signs in tree beds as a reminder to protect these tiny green spaces that dot our streets. This event is a festive way for neighbors to take care of the neighborhood," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“I’m happy that the Department of Sanitation is participating in an event that beautifies not only the trees and sidewalks in our community but also allows local high school students to do a trash audit to determine the composition of neighborhood street litter”, saidSanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. "The result of their audit could show new ways on reducing waste and keeping ou streets clean in the future. The compost and mulch used to restore tree beds comes from City residents who see the value in things that were thrown away. Every aspect of this event helps the City move toward its goal of zero waste to landfills by 2030.”

“In our efforts to create and maintain thriving parks and public spaces for New Yorkers across the five boroughs, we are happy to celebrate the Second Annual Love Your Street Tree Day. This initiative is about caring for and protecting our communities, and we are happy to be a part of that,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.

"Preserving our natural environment is some of the most important work we can do for our communities and for future generations. Legislation at city, state, and federal levels has done much to cap global warming pollution, protect our wetlands and drinking water, recycle toxic E-waste, and maintain the integrity of our green spaces. However, it is the work of volunteers, groups, city agencies, elected officials, non-profits and businesses that ensures the everyday preservation of our environment. Now in its second year, 'Love Your Street Tree Day' is a rewarding opportunity to empower the community to responsibly take care of our ever-changing, diverse city streets and greenery," said Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell.

“Every day should be “Love your Street/Tree Day’,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), a cosponsor of the event. “Today’s volunteers are remarkable advocates for our community, who are not only beautifying and protecting our neighborhood, but also helping to spread a message of environmental stewardship. I am so pleased to be a part of this event, and look forward to holding more in the future.”

"We are thrilled and grateful to see our Upper West Side volunteer cleanup and tree bed beautification event, Love Your Street Tree Day, expand in scope and supporters this second year. From bringing awareness to the importance of our urban street trees and their care (especially after the completion of NYC's ambitious Million Trees project) to connecting the dots of sidewalk litter and overflowing trashcans to the pollution of our local and global waters (especially plastic pollution), we hope to support the City's laudable goal of reducing single-use throwaway items, increasing recycling compliance, and sending zero waste to landfill by 2030," explains Melissa Elstein, co-founder of the non-profit West 80s Neighborhood Association and co-creator of this community event.

"We started this organization simply as a way to help street trees, and it has quickly grown not only in focus and geographic scope, but also in partnership participation. The interest and support of our most esteemed city officials and businesses on the Upper West Side, as well as nature and beautification partners citywide has more than doubled, and that is a gift that we certainly very much appreciate," said Kim Johnson, Founder of Curb Allure.

"Love Your Tree Day is a wonderful example of a community coming together & neighbors getting to know each other better, reinforcing the values that bring us together for future generations," said Jacob Hadjigeorgis of Jacob’s Pickles.

"Trees New York is celebrating its 40th year of dedication to New York City's urban forest. We are happy to roll up our sleeves for this tree stewardship event to enhance and preserve our street trees," said Cheryl Blaylock, Director of Youth Programs for Trees NY.

The Second Annual "Love Your Street Tree Day" is sponsored by the West 80's Neighborhood Association, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell, Community Board 7 Manhattan, NYC Parks, Curb Allure, the Goddard Riverside Community Center Green Keepers, Trees New York, Beacon Paint & Hardware, the Broadway Mall Association, Citizens Committee for New York City, Commit to Green, the New York City Department of Sanitation, The Doe Fund, the Insurgo Project, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, Jacob's Pickles, Jacob's Digs, the NYC Compost Project hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Project, Lowe's, The Nature Conservancy, LEAF, New Yorkers for Parks, the New York Restoration Project, The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, and the West Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Additional sponsors are Loupe Digital Studio, Classic Business Solutions, W. 85 Copy & Graphics.