Arbor Day in University City: Creating a Green Belt

Logo by Steve Davis

UC Green, like its predecessor UC Brite-which installed outdoor lights-has been collaborating with community organizations, city agencies and corporate sponsors to improve the quality of life in University City. This time the goal is to turn University City into a Garden Village with greenways along streets, pathways to schools and parks, landscaping and plantings around homes and apartments and the conversion of vacant lots into community assets.

University City is a giant step closer to becoming greener. UC Green's recent Arbor Day project involved planting more than 100 trees along Walnut Street from 43rd to 48th Streets on Saturday, March 24. Hundreds of volunteers had been recruited from the community and Penn and from the University of Tennessee. But when the day of planting came, so did even more volunteers than had been anticipated. There were more than 1,200 registered volunteers who pitched in. They planted Ginko trees, Hackberry trees, Honey Locusts trees, London Plane trees, Red Bud trees, and Red Maple trees. These types of trees were carefully chosen by landscape architect Steve McCoubrey, with input from the community groups. There were crews of five people per tree, led by a crew leader who had completed tree-planting training prior to the event. Each tree weighed nearly 400 lbs. and will be full blown in about a year and a half.

Esaul Sanchez, director of UC Green, said, 'UC Green would like to thank the over 1,200 volunteers who worked on planting the trees. This Arbor Day 2001 project was successful beyond our wildest dreams thanks to your participation and commitment. The convergence of so many different people and talents for this event is a testimony of the best of us and what we can do working together."

Mr. Sanchez added, "This project would not have been the success it was without the participation of dozens of partners." Participants included: Allied Security, Association of Islamic Charitable Programs, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Drexel University, Morris Arboretum, Neospin Consultants, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Green, Philadelphia Urban Resources Partnership, Philadelphia University, Salvation Army F.A.I.T.H. & Soup's On! Programs, Sherman Properties, Steve Davis, The Inn at Penn, The Restaurant School, U.S. Department of Agricultural Forest Service, UCA, UCD, Penn, University City Sheraton, University of Tennessee Volunteer Center, University of the Sciences, Walnut Hill Community Association, West Philadelphia High School Construction Programs, West Philadelphia Partnership, and White Dog Café.

President Judith Rodin thanked the UA and GAPSA for their role in mobilizing and organizing students and congratulated everyone who cooperated, especially all the community groups who participated.

Lauren Leatherbarrow, an architect from University City, said, "I was privileged to be a volunteer participant and I am blown away at how successful the entire project was and I want to say thank you from the neighborhood to all the people who spent months in preparation and to everyone else who showed up on the day to help."

Last year, UC Green secured funding for and helped in the planning, organization and implementation of 16 landscape and streetscape improvement projects in the area. For more on UC Green, see

Photos by Sylvia Barkan

    Volunteers of all ages pitched in to help out.

Dispensing the tools,

preparing the site,

digging the dirt,

balancing the bale,

positioning the tree,

steadying the trunk,

smoothing the soil,

lending a hand,

beaming with pride.

 Volunteers of all ages pitched in to help out.  

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 29, April 10, 2001