The Privilege of The Tree Experience

By Sarah Lillie Sewell

What qualifies as a quality tree experience? This episode, my colleague Dr. Christine Carmichael and I talk about what it means to have privilege as it pertains to interacting with trees, and how we can all use our relative privilege to foster positive interactions with nature for everyone. 

Christine elevated a project that exemplified what’s possible when people work together to  leverage their own privilege to provide greater access to urban trees for those experiencing oppression. She Threw Shade celebrating the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing Dedicated to Victims of Gun Violence. Founded by grieving mother and teacher Marlene Pratt in partnership with Urban Resources Initiative, the Garden serves New Haven, CT residents looking for solace and peace, and fosters conversation and action to address the crisis of gun violence. Learn more about the garden and here and keep up with updates here by following Urban Resources Initiative.  

So what does it mean to have privilege? The short of it is that both privilege and oppression are two sides of the same coin; Christine broke both concepts down in our Getting to the Root of it segment. Both concepts have critical implications for who feels agency and autonomy to orchestrate their own nature experiences. We as urban greening practitioners and others with privilege must ally with those experiencing oppression and nature deficits to manifest their visions for urban greenspace. Listen in for more ideas on how we can close the gap to bring equity to all experiencing both privilege and oppression.  

Here’s some Fruit for Thought: do you feel agency and autonomy to create a thriving urban forest near you? Who cares for trees in your neighborhood? Do you as a resident have to pay out of pocket for tree maintenance or is it managed by your municipality? Tweet us your responses @Shake_The_Tree_ on Twitter.  

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