This summer, Openlands will offer The TreeKeepers Program, a series of classes, at Austin Gardens Environmental Center, 167 Forest Ave., in Oak Park. Classes will be taught by world-renowned experts covering topics such as physiology, soils, pruning, planting, and mulching and will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. throughout the month of June.
Oak Park is known for its human diversity, but its arboreal diversity is equally noteworthy.
This was not always the case. During the first half of the 20th century, a uniform canopy of elm trees dominated Oak Park’s urban parkway landscape. Over the past 50 years, most of these elms have fallen ill due to Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus spread via the elm bark beetle or through intertwined underground root systems. The Village of Oak Park vigilantly and methodically removes these sickly trees.
Summer is upon us and with it the annual block party season. Block parties are a special part of celebrating community and our wonderful outdoor spaces. It’s also a great way of recognizing and celebrating the many sustainability initiatives and resources in our community – whether it’s native or edible gardens, backyard or curbside composting (offered through the villages of Oak Park and River Forest), solar panels or learning about the awesome trees on your block. By shining a light on these important community assets, we encourage one another and help to build a more resilient future for our children.
As I left church a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a huge base of a tree trunk on the parkway of our church property. I felt a mix of surprise, anger and sadness. Clearly it was a very large tree that I hadn’t really paid much attention to. In the coming weeks, I started seeing more signs of other trees that had been cut down. These images of previously large, beautiful trees that had stood for years, now shaved off at the ground haunted me, and I wanted to know more.