Urban Forest Researcher Georgia Silvera Seamans on The Risks and Rewards of Being Black in Nature

Georgia Silvera Seamans birding in her favorite local patch, Washington Square Park. Photo Courtesy of the Author

Recommended Reading

Georgia Silvera Seamans Essay on Medium: “The Risks and Rewards of Being Black in Nature”

Georgia Silvera Seamans is the co-founding director of Washington Square Park Eco Projects in Manhattan’s storied park. She is an urban forester, independent researcher, and writer. Georgia’s research has been published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening and Journal of Arboriculture, and she blogs about urban nature at localecologist.org. Georgia holds degrees from Wesleyan University, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and UC Berkeley. Here’s a brief excerpt from her essay on Medium, “On the Risk and Rewards of Being Black in Nature.”

I first learned about the concept of “nearby nature” in graduate school. The term was coined by Rachel Kaplan and Stephan Kaplan in their 1989 book, The Experience of Nature. The Kaplans define this form of nature as a space that contains “one or more plants…that is proximal [and] it can be indoors or out-of-doors.” With this wide-open definition, there are arguably many subtypes of nearby nature. I’ve thought about nearby nature or neighborhood nature or next door nature especially in the context of cities because of my work in urban forestry and urban ecology.

Conducting my life almost entirely from my apartment in New York City beginning in mid-March of this year because of the pandemic brought home the importance of nature I could easily access, from my window, on a walk around my block, and when things felt less dire, in my local park. The pandemic and how much I craved nature were the catalysts for writing an essay about the benefits of nearby nature. But then the trauma of two stark incidences of racial violence in the outdoors made me pause my work. I didn’t feel that I could unconditionally tout the benefits of nearby nature, of spending time outdoors, when nature has been the setting for anti-black hate crimes. Read the full essay on Medium here.

TD Green Space Grant Application Now Open! – $20,000 US


Applications are now being accepted for the TD Green Space Grants program, a collaboration of TD Bank Group and the Arbor Day Foundation aimed at supporting vibrant, sustainable, and healthy North American cities through the strategic development and enhancement of green spaces and natural areas.

TD Green Space Grants will offer North American municipalities in support of creative programs and projects that use green infrastructure development, tree planting, forestry stewardship, and community green space expansion as a way to advance environmental and economic benefits toward a low-carbon economy. The 2021 theme for the program is, “Building Resilience: Green infrastructure solutions for communities disproportionally impacted by Covid-19. (Defining communities disproportionately impacted as: seniors, low-income families and individuals, Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, and individuals experiencing homelessness.)

To be eligible for a TD Green Space Grant, your project must take place within TD’s footprint in the United States or Canada, with priority being given to projects in areas that primarily serve low- to moderate-income residents or take place in underserved communities.

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Beacon’s Fall Planting with Aid of Council Grant

Photo and Text Courtesy of Beacon Recreation Director Mark Price

The Beacon Tree Committee, with the help of the Department of Public Works, planted trees in celebration of Fall and future shade at the South Ave Park Basketball Court on Friday, November 6.

Three specimen-size red maples (Acer rubrum) were planted for their fall color, shade, and year-round handsomeness. Red maple has the greatest north-south distribution of all tree species along the East Coast, ranging from eastern Canada south to Florida and west to east Texas. This popular ornamental tree grows 40-60 ft. in cultivation, occasionally reaching 100-120 ft. in the wild.

The City of Beacon wants to thank the NYS Urban Forestry Council and their Tree City USA Reward Grant program for the award of $1,000 in funding for our tree planting project.

North Tonawanda’s Joyful Tree Planting, Assisted by Council Grant

Super video from North Tonawanda about their recent planting event aided by a Tree City USA Reward Grant from our Council. Starting at the 3:02 mark you get to see the planting in action.

Director at North Tonawanda Department of Youth, Recreation, Parks & Seniors Alex Domaradzki says, “Special thanks to The New York State Urban Forestry Council for awarding the grant, and for Mayor Art Pappas, Alderman Bob Pecoraro, Derek Anthony, Mike Lorenc, Sam McCabe, and Lily Domaradzki for helping with the plantings!”

Congrats to North Tonawanda Parks and Recreation!

2021 Community Resilience Grants: App is “Short & Straightforward”

Here’s an opportunity to use community forestry best management practices as a way to reduce disaster impacts and mitigate climate change. To build resilience!

The National League of Cities 2021 Leadership in Community Resilience program is now accepting proposals from cities seeking additional funding for resilience-related projects. Each city selected for the 2021 cohort will receive $10,000 in financial support, and customized support from both NLC and the Resilient Cities Network (formerly 100RC). Apply today! The deadline for applications is December 23th, 2020. The announcement says, “We know how cumbersome and time consuming applications and proposal writing can be, so we purposely designed this one to be short and straightforward.”

  • Cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more are encouraged to apply.
  • Lead applicant must be a municipal government, represented by a department head, other city staff, or elected official (mayor, council member, commissioner, etc.).
  • Local nonprofits and community-based organizations may apply in partnership with a city.

Beattra Wilson’s Steadfast Path: An Urban Forestry & USDA Forest Service Journey

Beattra Wilson opened the 2018 Partners in Community Forestry Conference in Irvine, California with her plenary presentation.

A Steadfast Path: My Urban Forestry and USDA Forest Service Journey

By Beattra Wilson, Photos Courtesy of the Author

Beattra Wilson began her career with the USDA Forest Service in 2002 in Atlanta as an urban forestry trainee; she is now the Forest Service Assistant Director of Cooperative Forestry and National Lead for Urban and Community Forestry. We asked Beattra to share some of her educational and career trajectory and what excites her about her work. Here she is in her own words.

I grew up surrounded by pine forests in a small town in Louisiana called Oakdale. I was introduced to agriculture education and career opportunities beginning in fourth grade through my involvement with 4-H. I competed at the parish and statewide fairs in the 4-H Sew with Cotton and Public Speaking contests.

Those 4-H experiences helped propel me to hold leadership roles in high school. I also had a pivotal experience at a summer agricultural camp at Southern University and A&M College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) system, where I learned in depth about urban forestry and other agriculture professions. (This summer agriculture institute continues to serve 40-50 students each summer, and the Forest Service is a supporting partner.)

The summer Beginning Agricultural Youth Opportunities Unlimited (BAYOU) Program at Southern University provides high school students an immersion in career opportunities in agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and related disciplines.

As I was looking into college degree programs, based on my test scores and GPA I was recruited by two colleges for urban forestry and agriculture economics and five colleges for engineering. Ultimately, I chose to study urban forestry because it seemed like a perfect merger of my deep connection to agriculture along with my desire to have a career that afforded me the opportunity to live in a big city.

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Volunteers Restore Manorhaven Preserve on Long Island with Native Plants

Interpretive signage for the native trees volunteers planted in the new Native Plant Garden in the Manorhaven Nature Preserve.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” Kahil Gebran

Nassau County’s location on Long Island and Port Washington’s location in Nassau County. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Rcsprinter123

According to a 2017 article on the blog Patch: Port Washington, Long Island edition, the Native Plant Garden in Manorhaven Nature Preserve was a project initiated in 2017 by Nassau County Master Gardener Pat Valente and realized with the help of many fellow volunteers. To date, the community has planted more than 1000 native plants, including eighteen species of Long Island native trees, in the Preserve. 

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