FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, March 10, 2012
PRESS CONTACT: Gloria Chan, 415-554-6926, Gloria.email@example.com
CITY CELEBRATES ARBOR DAY AND DEDICATES SIGNATURE TREE TO RENOWNED INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER
WANGARI MUTA MAATHAI
Volunteer event focused on urban tree care and honors Green Belt Movement founder with tree planting ceremony
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Supervisor John Avalos, the Department of Public Works (DPW), city agencies and the community celebrated Arbor Day with volunteers and families cleaning and greening San Francisco neighborhoods. This year marks the 140th anniversary of Arbor Day nationwide. Community Clean Team, a citywide volunteer program, hosted the event along Brotherhood Way where hundreds of volunteers pitched in to work on landscaping and greening projects, paint over graffiti vandalism, learn about tree care and maintenance, and remove litter in the Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhoods.
The celebration included the annual signature tree planting and dedication ceremony that, this year, honored the internationally renowned environmental advocate Wangari Muta Maathai, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, an award established in San Francisco that recognizes grassroots environmental heroes.
“Today, we recognize the importance of communities coming together to take care of our trees in the spirit of Arbor Day,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “We are also celebrating the life of a hero, Wangari Muta Maathai, who through her advocacy inspired tree planting and care around the world to encourage positive social, economic and environmental change.”
DPW and the City planted an African Sumac in honor of Dr. Maathai (1940–2011), who was a Nobel Peace Laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement, an organization that uses tree planting for self-determination, equity, improved livelihoods and security, and environmental conservation. The Green Belt Movement also began in San Francisco.
“This Community Clean Team Arbor Day event is successful because of the dedicated volunteers who come out to care for the city’s urban forest,” said District Eleven Supervisor John Avalos. “The inspiring work of Dr. Maathai demonstrates how the community can work together and use an activity like tree planting to not only beautify a community, but improve peoples’ quality of life.”
Each year, the City dedicates a ceremonial tree to a community leader, environmental and social justice hero, and/or advocate. Past honorees include Charlie Starbuck (Friends of the Urban Forest volunteer), Ruth Asawa, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Dr. Ellen Wolfe (Director of Children's Medical Services for the San Francisco Department of Public Health) and Dana Woldow (local advocate for children’s nutrition and getting healthy food in schools).
“There have been celebrations throughout the world to honor Professor Maathai, and we are delighted that San Francisco has chosen to plant a signature tree in remembrance of her work,” said Huey Johnson, environmentalist and co-founder of Green Belt Movement in the United States. “She inspired people around the world to plant and care for trees, and used tree planting as a spring board to improve people’s lives, a legacy that will last for generations.”
The cleaning and greening activities focused on caring for the City’s trees with demonstrations and workshops on proper tree care and maintenance. The event included an Eco Resource Fair that featured arts and crafts, bucket rides, urban grazing goats, a bookmobile, and a host of fun family activities. Entertainment included live music, games for children, and a barbeque lunch to reward volunteers for their contribution.
“Arbor Day reminds us of the tremendous value of our urban forest and the importance of caring for and maintaining our trees,” said Mohammed Nuru, Director of the Department of Public Works. “Healthy trees bring beauty and great value to our neighborhoods. They improve air and water quality, and provide many more tangible benefits to our environment and health.”
Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance, established in 1872, that encourages tree planting and care. It is celebrated each year by states and cities at different times in the year according to the region’s best tree-planting season. California celebrates Arbor Day March 7th through March 14th.
DPW is responsible for the care and maintenance of San Francisco’s streets and much of its infrastructure. The department cleans and resurfaces streets; plants and maintains City street trees; designs, constructs and maintains city-owned facilities; inspects streets and sidewalks; constructs curb ramps; removes graffiti from public property; and partners with the diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco to provide stellar cleaning and greening services. For more information, please visit www.sfdpw.org