Bring more trees to under-resourced neighborhoods

Neighborhoods with less tree canopy tend to have more people of color and lower incomes, and residents pay the price with greater pollution and higher temperatures. We need action to make trees more equitably available, the Morton Arboretum president writes.

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Volunteers work together during a tree planting ceremony Oct. 2022 to celebrate Shriners Children’s Chicago hospital’s 100th anniversary outside the hospital.

Volunteers work together during a tree planting ceremony Oct. 2022 to celebrate Shriners Children’s Chicago hospital’s 100th anniversary outside the hospital.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Many people take trees for granted — except those who don’t have any in their neighborhoods. Arbor Day was this past Friday, April 28, and while some urban and suburban areas are lush with mature trees providing a beautiful green canopy, the numerous benefits of trees are often unavailable to those in under-resourced neighborhoods.

A Chicago Region Trees Initiative analysis of the region’s tree canopy shows that areas with less canopy tend to have greater percentages of people of color, higher summer temperatures, increased air and water pollution, and lower incomes. Science has demonstrated how the presence of neighborhood trees can be the difference between life and death for vulnerable populations.

Mature, well-maintained trees are an important asset in keeping communities healthy and safe. Planting and properly caring for trees can be a long-term solution to many of the challenges communities face: reducing heat, managing stormwater and flooding, supporting mental and physical health, reducing crime and removing pollution.

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Individuals can make a major impact by learning how to properly care for the trees in their neighborhoods or on their property, and by joining local tree planting and stewardship efforts; advocating for tree-friendly public policies; and supporting local conservation organizations, including public gardens, park districts and forest preserves.

Unfortunately, not all communities have the resources needed to plant and sustain a healthy, diverse tree canopy in an increasingly urbanizing world. We need more community leaders and partners to join this effort if we are going to adequately address widespread inequities and provide a first line of defense against climate impacts.

Together, in partnership with individuals, communities, organizations and government agencies, let’s transform our love of trees into an understanding of their benefits and take urgent action to make them equitably available, so that everyone can enjoy a healthier and more sustainable future for generations to come.

Jill Koski, president and CEO of The Morton Arboretum

Social media can be used to help teens

Ever since social media was introduced to the world, it has gained popularity and continues to be on the rise. I am studying social psychology at the University of St. Francis, and I recently learned about a concept I think parents of teenagers will benefit from regarding their teenager’s education.

Especially with the development of various social media apps, such as TikTok, I believe it could be beneficial due to something called a “two-step flow of communication.” This process allows leaders who are dominant in the media to influence those who follow them.

For example, many young adults struggle with body positivity. However, there are influencers, such as Alicia Carvell on TikTok, who promote body positivity. Through research, we know Carvell’s radiation of positive energy will influence others to feel just as confident in their skin as she does.

So, rather than thinking social media is rotting the brains of the youth, think of how influencers are supporting them in a way that they find comforting.

Marissa Perez, Shorewood

Cardinals’ Oliver Marmol might not make it to Chicago game

When a baseball team has a big payroll, the fans expect to get their money’s worth. If you are highly paid, they expect nothing but the best. Right now the St. Louis Cardinals are playing very un-Cardinal-like. The team is off to its worst start after 24 games since 1973.

Starting pitchers, for the most part, are pitching like batting practice pitchers. Not fooling the hitters one bit. And their relievers have come in not to protect late inning leads but to hold down the score so they have a chance to come back and win. It’s gotten so bad that fielders who usually make sparkling defensive plays are making silly errors. Making running mistakes on the bases.

The way things are going, Oliver Marmol might not be in the St. Louis dugout when they play the Cubs at Wrigley Field next month.

Herb Vermaas, Salem

Avoiding another police superintendent fiasco

News reports describing the disjointed search for a new police superintendent show it edges closer to looking like a civic clown show. If ever such an important job required competency foremost, this is it.

But that is not apparent, seeing the jockeying by various groups to be the kingmaker. The process needs to be forthright, specific in its requirements, including a grasp of the responsibility, leadership skills, a successful track record here or elsewhere, and unquestioned integrity.

But how can such a superb candidate put himself/herself forward, to be judged by deciders who have already shown themselves to be so unprofessional in their approach?

Unavoidably, he or she would be seen as beholden to one group or another rather than to the city as a whole. That is a recipe for conflict. Any new superintendent with the right stuff must adhere to principles and standards independent of any group.

It’s time to call a timeout so the various factions can meet and agree on an objective, acceptable job profile. Then invite applications from among those whose track record fits that profile. Any other approach is doomed to disappoint us all, repeating the fiascoes of our last two superintendents’ shortcomings. Partisanship is our common enemy.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

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