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Earth Day 2016

Hey, There's My Tree!

by Ericy Perez and Gabriela Sarabia

Earth Day
Easy Does It!  Hamilton staff and students jockey a sapling into position as part of the Earth Day tree planting on 70th street, in front of Hamilton Middle School on April 22.

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to plant a tree?

When Hamilton’s principal, Kathleen Cruz, was approached about planting trees along the parkway in front of Hamilton Middle School on East 70th Street, she did not expect the opportunity, but she was very pleased. She explained, “I was absolutely sure it would be a great experience for our students and neighborhood.”

Lining The Parkway

And so on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, Hamilton students and staff helped to plant thirty-one trees along the parkway in front of Hamilton’s campus, alongside multiple volunteers and organizations from the community.  In all, the community-minded citizens who organized at Hamilton accounted for roughly a third of the 95 trees planted in the city this year, the second year of Earth Day tree-planting in Long Beach.

The trees are meant to beautify the neighborhoods where they are planted, and also--according to a flyer distributed by the city--to “reduce greenhouse gasses, provide habitat, reduce cooling costs, and increase property values”.

Broad Community Effort

Organizations like I DIG Long Beach, and people such as Margaret Madden, the Neighborhood Resource Officer for the city, made the plantings possible.   Ms. Madden oversees a grant from the Port of Long Beach that pays for trees and recruits groups to help plant them. Hilda Gaitan, president of Hamilton’s Neighborhood Association, joined Ms. Madden in directing the day’s efforts.  Ms. Gaitan’s number one priority is to have “a green neighborhood.”

“It was a wonderful day watching over 200 volunteers plant so many trees around the school,” commented Megan Kerr, LBUSD Board Member for District 1. “The volunteers should be commended for providing supplies and the hard work of getting the trees into the ground.”

Volunteers gave many reasons for joining the tree planting, most saying that they simply care about the community. Karen, Honor Society member from CSULB, declared, “I wanted to help out today, because I want to contribute to the community.”

Alisa Crutch, from the Solid Landings organization, added, “We are here due to the simple fact that it’s Earth Day, and we came out to have fun and plant trees as well as support our environment.”

A Sense of Connection

By helping plant trees for the school, students gained a sense of pride and connection. They dug holes, pulled trees out of containers, and placed trees into the holes that had been dug. Then they named them!  “I loved seeing our students plant and name their trees,” remembered Megan Kerr.  “It was a fantastic experience for them and now the students have some ownership with the project.  Every time students and community members pass by a tree they helped plant here at Hamilton, they can say, ‘Hey, there’s my tree!’”

Many organizations deserve credit for the work done on this Friday to build a greener, more beautiful future for our city.  Among them were the Hamilton Neighborhood Association, Youth Build, Hamilton students and staff, Jordan Female and Male Leadership Academy, Solid Landings, Leadership Long Beach, The MIX Team, Wrap The Kids, Cal State University/Long Beach and the CSULB Honor Society, the Rancho Dominguez Prep Key Club, YMCA 70th Street Preschool, the Sierra Club, and The Port of Long Beach.

ON THE SCENE Friday, April 22, 2016 (04:42). A video log ("vlog") of Earth Day on 70th Street, with student hosts Morrise White and Ericy Perez. It was a day to plant trees!