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  • Writer's pictureTeam Canopy

Building Community Through Planting Trees by Angela Van Rooy

Community building is my job and my passion. I work for the City of Bloomington, helping neighbors make connections so their neighborhoods can thrive. 

Angela and volunteers plant a young tree in her front yard

It was in this capacity that I first became aware of CanopyBloomington nearly three years ago. As a new organization, they were looking for ways to make connections with residents, and I was happy to do what I could to make residents aware of the great work CanopyBloomington was doing. Fast forward two and a half years, and I was helping my neighborhood association to plan a tree planting in my own neighborhood! 

Last fall my neighbors and I were thrilled to help plant 15 new trees in our yards. At the same time, through a collaboration with the City of Bloomington, the City’s urban forester planted street trees throughout our neighborhood, so we doubly benefited from the effort. I now have two young trees to care for, and the knowledge to do so, thanks to the CanopyBloomington experts and volunteers who taught us how to properly plant and care for our new trees.

While the City plants hundreds of trees a year all over Bloomington, they may only plant trees on public property or in the right-of-way (i.e., near the street or sidewalk). My yard has a steep hill in the right-of-way, so it was unsuitable for a street tree from the City. But for the efforts of CanopyBloomington, I would have zero new trees. That’s the beauty of CanopyBloomington–not only are they able to plant on my private property, they worked with me to select the right tree species for the right location in my yard.

Angela and community members stand around a newly planted tree
Angela and community members plant the first tree in Eastern Heights

Our neighborhood tree planting was an awesome community building activity. We reaped the immediate benefit of working together towards a common goal, while knowing that our efforts would also bring future benefit to the neighborhood and the larger community as the trees mature and add significantly to Bloomington’s urban canopy. 

Several CanopyBloomington board members volunteered at my neighborhood tree planting, and at that time I was asked to consider serving on the board of directors. I said yes, and I am thrilled to be part of the organization that I have admired from afar. I have much to learn from my fellow board members, who are experts in their fields. I can only hope that my skill set will benefit CanopyBloomington as an organization, and the Bloomington community as a whole, as we work together to improve our urban canopy.

Every time I walk through my neighborhood it is a joy to admire all of the newly planted trees. I look forward to watching them grow and thrive alongside the organization that planted them.

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