In this new feature to our newsletter in 2010, Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest profiles a Tree Tender who has been active in organizing neighborhood tree plantings, Tree Care Days, or Pruning Workshops.
This month, Polish Hill’s Terry Doloughty, president of the Polish Hill Civic Association, was interviewed. He has been working with greening efforts in the neighborhood for several years.
What is your favorite tree in Pittsburgh? Where is it?
It took me far longer to narrow down my answer than I thought it would. I lived in an apartment for about 20 years at the end of Harmar St. In the green lot next door there is an old huge locust tree. Not a spectacular tree, but it has been there as a landmark for me in my life. I walked past that tree to garden in yard of the apartment building. I walked past that tree and volunteered when it was time to help put in our first community garden on Polish Hill. I stood in the shade of that tree and drew my bow as I practiced archery in that lot. Spring and Summer evenings under that Locust tree talking with friends. The ridges and hollows of the bark on that tree are like a written history for me.
What brought you to volunteer with Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest?
Over the years I have seen so many trees lost in our neighborhood. The apple trees, cherry trees, walnut, and even the catalpa (“toby”) trees that you thought would be there forever are gone. Volunteering with Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forrest was a chance to bring back some of those missing trees, actually I consider that they were missing members of our community. The new trees being planted are diverse, not just the standard old pear trees. When we get our volunteers together and plant trees we are sowing the seeds of community along with bring some life back to our streets.
What do you want your neighbors to know about trees?
I would ask all our neighbors to take a moment to consider how much trees, especially urban trees improve our quality of life. In return for sharing our space with trees we get better air quality, noise reduction, shade for our homes in the summer, a wind break for our homes in the winter, people drive a bit slower on tree lined streets giving us a safer environment, and crime is lower in neighborhood with higher percentages of tree per person. There are economic benefits as well but the quality of life improvements are the ones that touch every area of the neighborhood.
Aside from the fame and notoriety, what is the biggest benefit you associate with being a Tree Tender?
Being [a Tree Tender allows me to be] an active participant within a group that is not just improving our neighborhoods in the present, but for the future as well. As Tree Tenders, we have the chance to share expertise and skills with each other and the different communities being served. We receive the reward of knowing that this good work will spread, and we can say we had a hand or a shovel in making it happen.
When were you last sitting under a tree?
Last fall, I took a walk up to Frank Curto park, there are some grand old oaks there. Every now and again I can go there to have a few quiet moments and clear my head.
Find out more about Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forest projects and initiatives on their site, where you can sign up to have the newsletter emailed directly to your inbox.