Southie Trees: A Year in Review

2012 was a year of achievement and successful advocacy for Southie Trees.

Spring projects included mulching and planting flowers along Broadway and the planting of 11 trees through the Grow Boston Greener Grant. During the summer, a Water-A-Tree Program was implemented, a deep root feed was held on Castle Island with Jason Mraz, and a survey of the street trees on West Broadway was conducted. In the fall, we planted trees with Excel High and South Boston Catholic Academy.

Southie Trees - Tree Planting

In all, Southie Trees planted 14 trees, mulched and cared for over a hundred more, and increased community involvement in preserving trees.

In light of Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events, Tech Networks has decided to redirect its efforts to tackle the broader issue of climate change in 2013. Going forward, we are grateful to Donna Brown and South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation for sustaining the Southie Trees program. For more information, email

March 24: Southie Trees Volunteering and Film

Please join Southie Trees and our neighborhood partners for a volunteer event on March 24.  Starting at 10:30, we’ll care for tree pits (the patches of soil where street trees grow) focusing on East Broadway, followed by a screening of Southie Trees’ own short film Uprooted at the South Boston Public Library.  Meet at 10:30 at the Library, 646 East Broadway, South Boston.

In the morning, we’ll renovate tree pits with mulch, garbage removal (it will be a week after the Parade), weeding and flower planting.  We will also plant shrubs and flowers in the South Boston Public Library garden.  Then we’ll see the film Uprooted, a documentary made about the work of Southie Trees improving the urban forest setting in South Boston.

RSVP to or (617) 269-0299 x310.  See you there!

Click here to read this month’s full Boston Techie.

Get a Grant for a Tree Planting Event

To apply for a Grow Boston Greener tree-planting grant, locate a publicly accessible area where you’d like to plant a tree and contact Southie Trees. We’ll help you fill out the application and find volunteers for planting. You don’t need 501(c)(3) status, thanks to the South Boston Neighborhood Development Association acting as fiscal agent. Street tree planting is not part of this grant. Additional information is available at Send an e mail to with any questions or to get started!

Click here to read the full March 2012 Boston Techie newsletter.

Know Your City’s Trees! March Contest

Where in South Boston is this tree? This tree is in the process of being cut in a lopsided manner as part of a construction project. In Massachusetts, the cutting of any shade tree on a public way requires a permit, which can only be issued after a public hearing (see Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 87, Section 3).

Tech Networks of Boston supports the preservation of mature urban trees, which make neighborhoods more pleasant, filter our air and water, and moderate temperatures.

We hope you’ll use this contest as a fun way to get to know your city’s trees!

Click here to read the full March 2012 Boston Techie newsletter.

Give your root$hare

The New England Grassroots Environment Fund (NEGEF) is raising $25,000 to help fund grassroots environmental efforts in our communities.

TNB thanks NEGEF for their generous support of Southie Trees.

Please join TNB in supporting this worthy effort. It’s a central place to give and know your funds will support volunteer-driven efforts across New England.

Visit to read more and make a contribution today!

Southie Trees Group Gains Momentum

Autumn may bring falling leaves and brisk weather, but Southie Trees is in full bloom!

Earlier this month, the New England Grassroots Environment Fund awarded Southie Trees a full year of funding. This grant will jumpstart educational programs, tree maintenance projects and support for Southie residents in preserving trees around their neighborhood.

A second grant from the City’s “Grow Boston Greener” initiative funds tree planting along the staircase to Thomas Park.

In collaboration with Tech Networks of Boston, Southie Trees organized a street tree rescue on West 2nd Street. Residents and volunteers worked together to cut cables, remove stakes, trim branches and add fresh mulch. To wrap up the project, volunteers talked with local residents about community involvement in tree care.

Because the City has very little manpower, we’re calling upon Boston residents to lend a hand wherever possible. Together we can improve Boston’s green scene.

Tech Networks of Boston is proud to support Southie Trees by funding the Southie Trees Coordinator position at 20 hours per week.

Working Together to Save South Boston’s Trees

NB staffer Jennifer Brundage spends her mornings working with Southie Trees and Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) to advocate for the preservation of trees throughout South Boston. Jen helps the youth workers at ABCD to compare architectural drawings with trees present, taking scientific measurements and entering them into a database.

Jen has produced an up-to-date inventory of all trees in the Old Colony housing community, which is now being redeveloped. Advocates will use this tree inventory to educate the community and the Boston Housing Authority about the importance of preserving them.

Urban Trees in Perspective: Can you guess where the photo above was taken? Hint: it’s within a few blocks of Andrew Square. E-mail with your guess!

Our Willow is Gone

Until yesterday, there was a huge willow tree on Columbia Road between the road and the beach.  There was nothing like it from Castle Island to UMass.  It shaded and cooled us, and it was a haven for birds.  It gave me a jolt of pleasure every morning I ran by it. I marveled at its gracefully twisting trunk and deeply veined bark and at the grace of its boughs festooned with thousands of strands of willow leaves.

Every living thing has its time to die.  This hundred year-old tree met its end through a lightening bolt yesterday afternoon.  While it is sad to lose such a magnificent tree, what turns this event into a tragedy is to know that there will never be a tree that large on Columbia Road again.   The average tree planted today in Boston lives seven to ten years, according to the City of Boston Parks Department.  Part of the reason the trees aren’t growing is that pollution from car exhaust and other sources creates ground-level ozone, a pollutant that damages the DNA of trees and causes cancer and asthma in humans.

Some studies have shown that tree growth is reduced by 30-50% in high-ozone years.  Even outside urban areas, scientists estimate that ozone pollution has reduced tree trowth in northern and temperate mid-latitudes by 7% already, and we are headed to a 17% reduction by 2100.  But a scientist is not needed to see that we are losing our trees here in Boston, including our hundred year-old heritage trees.  In the future, our children may not see trees the way we do today.   For them, a tree will be a spindly, stick-like plant about twenty feet high.  When you tell them that there used to be huge trees that you couldn’t put your arms around, they will smile politely and nod, just as we nodded when our great-grandfathers told us about the herds of buffalo so large that they extended as far as the eye could see.

Although we can’t do anything about the dead willow, there is a tree less than a mile away that we can save if we all work together.  It is the largest tree in Andrew Square.  This tree has provided shade, cooling, and cleaner air to thousands of passersby over the decades.  It is now slated for removal as part of the Andrew Square renewal project.  While the project does provide for planting new trees, these trees will simply join the ranks of the hundreds of others that the city has planted that wither, die back, and then die over the next few years.  I am not aware of any money provided for maintenance and no money provided for replacement if the trees die.