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Urban Forests: A natural history of trees and people in the American cityscape


Over the years, we have had plenty of dialogue in our region as to how we can be a greener society, from the way we encourage recycling to the advocacy of riding bikes as a way to offset carbon emissions.

And while these are often very public relations-driven efforts, behind the scenes we are a community concerned about our built environment (the resources and infrastructure designed to support human activity, such as parks, buildings and more). Through the addition of advances in green infrastructure, we can begin to reduce the threats of stormwater, delivering smarter policies that improve our environment and society, as well as increase economic benefits. 

One of our best defenses is the use of a long lived creation on our planet, the tree. 

On Wednesday at the downtown Grand Rapids Public Library, author Jill Jonnes, founder of the Baltimore Tree Trust, will share insights from her work in a lecture titled, “Trees as Green Infrastructure.”

Jonnes, an author of numerous books, has most recently released “Urban Forests: A Natural History  of Trees and People in The American Cityscape,” a rich celebration of the beauty and important duty trees play within our urban landscapes.  

This timing is perfect: as we begin our spring season, this lecture provides us with a reminder of the role that these living landmarks have on our city. From helping define our communities to cooling the air, trees also connect us to history, as they often outlive ourselves.

After the lecture, I’d suggest visiting the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ Urban Forest Project to learn how to become more involved in their critical work within this area. Earlier on this day, Friends’ will host a Q&A and book signing event with Jonnes at East Hills’ Books and Mortar

Both events are free and open to the public.
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