For the past two months I've tried to convey this thought: that a seemingly expendable tree at a construction project is perhaps not expendable. The tree in this argument has only symbolized the bigger picture of an attitude that prevails whenever development occurs - that the natural environment is in the way of progress.
My interest in the environment doesn’t come from a never-never-land ideology of a world where everyone hugs trees. My interest comes from a clear and progressive manner of thinking that looks to the future and sees that the natural world matters right now. And to bring this into the conversation, particularly at the beginning of a development project, simply demonstrates some wisdom.
My money and hard work are where my mouth is. I served on the city’s Tree Commission for almost two years and I was a founding member of a local non-profit, the Alpharetta Arboretum, Inc. and served on its Board of Directors for 4 ½ years.
My involvement with the aforementioned non-profit was all volunteer and 7 days a week for long stretches at a time. From 2008 to 2012, with the collaboration of the city of Alpharetta, I led the Alpharetta Arboretum in the creation of 3 arboretums at local parks that bestowed both value and legacy to this city. I led in the creation of a highly successful local community vegetable garden and in 2009 I led in the implementation of the city’s first public fruit orchard.
While serving in this volunteer capacity I spoke about urban forestry and community gardening countless times. I spoke to journalists, local schools, neighboring county officials and staff, garden clubs, country clubs, other non-profits. I guest lectured at a state university and was filmed by the Atlanta Regional Commission. I spent countless hours at local city parks and was approached by more Alpharetta residents than I can count. These residents all expressed a keen interest in our parks, green-spaces, trees and gardening. The love of nature is palpable in Alpharetta and it knows no national, racial, age, gender, economic or ability boundaries.
For 8 years I have been fully engaged with this side of Alpharetta and if I speak passionately about trees and green-spaces it is with some credibility but also because I know that our residents want to enjoy old trees and see forest canopy. They want to know we have clear streams and be assured that someone cares about our beloved parks and that someone feels protective of our green-spaces. This someone has to include elected officials. I hope it will.