‘We hope others replicate this’: Parkside neighborhood plants 93 trees to replenish canopy – Savannah Morning News
The sun had barely blipped into the clear sky Saturday morning when members of the Savannah College Art and Design’s men’s lacrosse team hauled 20,000 pounds of water, dirt and roots throughout the Parkside neighborhood just south of Daffin Park.
“Everyone’s been super grateful for us helping out. I’ve heard it multiple times today: ‘It wouldn’t be possible without our guys,'” said Jordan Reeves, lacrosse player and architecture major at SCAD. “So, it’s really sweet to give back to our community and they support us likewise.”
About 30 residents converged on 51st Street in Parkside Saturday to plant 93 trees around the neighborhood in an effort to restore the area’s dying tree canopy and aid in the fight against rising temperatures worldwide. The lacrosse team was volunterring through SCADServe, a branch of the university aimed at community service and giving back.
“We’re concerned about the canopy of Parkside. Lots of our trees are dying,” Stewart Dohrman, a preservation specialist and Parkside resident, said. “And even more important than that, we feel like this can be our help with global warming. Everybody needs to be doing what they can.”
Dohrman’s company, Dohrman Construction and Preservation, fronted the costs for the trees, but the neighborhood association is seeking donations to purchase more.
“I feel strongly that planting more trees throughout Savannah is critical and I want to help out how I can,” he said.
Global warming is the overall heating of the earth’s atmosphere, primarily through a process called the “greenhouse effect,” where too much heat-trapping carbon is released into the air. Trees and other green plants help fight global warming because they take carbon out of the atmosphere and release oxygen through a process called photosynthesis.
Dohrman and Robin Williams, a professor of architectural history at SCAD, organized the event in conjunction with the city. Volunteers planted the trees — each sapling weighing between 200 and 300 pounds — around the neighborhood where trees were aging out and decaying.
“Most of the trees that are dying were planted in the 1920s. They were an 80-year tree and it’s their 100th year, so they’re not long for this world,” Dohrman explained. “We’ll probably lose 100 Sweet Gums in the next five to 15 years. That would really devastate one end of Parkside.”
The volunteers dug wide, deep holes for the saplings to nestle into, careful to avoid gas and utility lines, before plopping the heavy root balls into place. The new trees (a combination of Tupelos, American Elm, Trident Maple and Lacebark Elm) now line public right-of-ways and front yards along 51st and 52nd Streets.
“Today’s about all restoring the tree canopy,” Olivier Maene, a downtown resident who volunteered through his connection with the Williams, event co-organizer. “Trees have always been such a distinct part of Savannah’s character. I think at some point, it actually [was] known as [a] Tree City… So the fact that we’re able to continue to uphold that tradition, that identity, I think is great.”
Since 1985, Savannah has been recognized as a “Tree City” by the national Arbor Day Foundation. Dohrman and Williams hope to plant up to 250 trees in Parkside by the end of this year. They’ll host another day of planting in the fall to reach that goal, Dohrman said.
“We hope that our efforts might be replicated in other neighborhoods, because we approach it just to kind of really get volunteers together to offset the costs, but also to kind of build community,” Dohrman said.
Before the volunteer meeting at 9 a.m., about 20 Parkside neighbors mingled in groups along 51st Street. They introduced themselves, found out where each other lived and introduced their dogs.
“We’ve only been here for a few months. And you can already feel a sense of community. It’s really, really tight here,” said Eric Chin, who recently moved to Parkside with his partner. Chin volunteered to meet new people and “beautify this (neighborhood) as much as we can.”
Zoe covers growth and how it impacts communities in the Savannah area. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org, @zoenicholson_ on Twitter, and @zoenicholsonreporter on Instagram.