TreeMail
July 13, 2015 1:17 PM   Subscribe

In the last decade, some cities have created unusual municipal projects using personal and institutional technologies and Open Data, to keep things running smoothly. In Chicago, there’s a text-based pothole tracker. Pittsburg, Chicago, NYC and other cities have snowplow trackers during winter storms. Boston asked people to adopt-a-hydrant and shovel them out after snowstorms. In Honolulu, you can adopt a tsunami siren. In 2013, the city of Melbourne assigned email addresses to 70,000 trees as part of their Urban Forest Project, so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees, and in many cases, the "trees" wrote back.

Why?

The project aims to raise awareness for Melbourne's urban forest strategy, initiated in 2007 in response to a 10-year drought that gripped much of southern Australia. The city is going to try to double the area covered by tree canopies by 2040, to soak up more carbon dioxide and reduce the “heat island” effect common to many cities.
"Melbourne is estimated to lose more than 30,000 trees (about 44 per cent of the population) over the next 20 years due to old age – partially accelerated by drought. That covers Kensington, Flemington and Carlton in the north, right through the CBD to South Yarra and Port Melbourne in the south. At the moment, that’s translating to about 1200 to 1500 removals every year. The council aims to lift publicly owned tree cover from 22 per cent to 40 per cent by 2040, meaning that about 3000 trees will have to be planted annually to meet these targets.

...

The main way that the council is going to tackle this is through a greater diversity of tree stock when re-planting. Currently, 35 per cent of Melbourne’s trees are made up of just three species: elms, planes, and river gums."
posted by zarq (16 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Love the dolphins, write by W.A.S.T.E." --Thomas Pynchon
posted by chavenet at 1:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's "PittsburgH." We are proud of our H.
posted by BentFranklin at 1:26 PM on July 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


BentFranklin: "It's "PittsburgH." We are proud of our H."

DOH! Oops. Sorry!
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on July 13, 2015


GREETINGS TREE

MY NAME IS PRICE NAMUTU, BAOBAB OF THE SERENGETI PLAINS. I HAVE THE SUM OF $90,00,000 US DOLLARS THAT I NEED ASSISTANCE IN MOVING TO YOUR HONOURABLE NATION.
posted by GuyZero at 1:40 PM on July 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


That Atlantic article on tree emails was a lovely read, thank you. Those letters were so clever and upbeat and silly. I love when a community and the government that serves them have a bit of fun together.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:52 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


zarq: "In Chicago, there’s a text-based pothole tracker. "

To be fair, that's not so much a municipal project as an endless, justified scream of rage by all road users.

zarq: "Currently, 35 per cent of Melbourne’s trees are made up of just three species: elms, planes, and river gums.""

Hackberry or GTFO.

Just kidding, I don't know if they grow in Australia. But they're underappreciated city trees in North America, great for replacing dead elms! They do drop little smushy purple berries everywhere but it washes off and the berries taste like pepper. They are not poisonous, if you want to you can smash up a billion of the berries and make a peppery hackberry jelly. Dogs sometimes develop a real taste for them and you'll see them desperately snarfing the sidewalks and driveways where berries have smashed down with their little purple stains.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:14 PM on July 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just kidding, I don't know if they grow in Australia.

It's amazing, the things you can find online. Celtis occidentalis and Celtis australis both grow near Melbourne and Sydney. Looks like Celtis sinensis grows near near Brisbane.
posted by zarq at 2:20 PM on July 13, 2015


“The email interactions reveal the love Melburnians have for our trees,” Wood said.
posted by dmo at 3:27 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a whole city of crouton-petters
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:28 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like this much better than the profane fad of knitting them (eventually filthy) acrylic yarn cardigans.
posted by Gable Oak at 5:32 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crouton petters, in case that was a new one on you.
posted by Monochrome at 6:44 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"It's "PittsburgH." We are proud of our H."

And yet you never mention it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:24 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still wonder about the crouton petting. There must be a story there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:37 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My niece wants to do something similar in Vancouver, in audio: "make a soundcloud file for each tree on our street and affix a QR code to each tree that goes to the file. Have people narrate poems or letters or stories about that tree ... anything that would be enhanced by the experience of standing there looking at the tree"
posted by fredludd at 8:43 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love, LOVE the e-tree-hugging. What a lovely outcome.
posted by greenish at 5:08 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mr and Mrs Willow Leaf Peppermint (same Tree)
Aww
posted by schmod at 6:07 AM on July 15, 2015


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