TreeKIT with Food Census at Pratt March 27

Leadership in Environmental Advocacy at Pratt presents:
(free and open to the public – please distribute widely)

“Street Trees and Urban Food: Measuring, Mapping, and Managing the Environment with Citizen Scientists”
taught by Mara Gittleman & Phil Silva
WHEN: 1-3pm, Sunday March 27th
WHERE: Higgins Hall North 406

Free Lunch 3pm
Please RSVP: tylercaruso at g mail dot com

Community-generated data helps citizens coordinate and collaborate on environmental stewardship initiatives. The tools can be as simple as tape measures, scales, and a bit of code. This workshop goes into depth about three current NYC-based citizen science projects related to food justice and environmental stewardship. Following the talk, we will go an outdoor tree mapping excursion that will help build a set of tools for volunteers in central Brooklyn with TreeKIT co-founder Philip Silva and Food Census co-founder Mara Gittleman.

Tell me Astoria

Today we drove around the approximately 600 blocks of Western Queens where Con Edison has graciously (read: court ordered) funded community tree mapping, replanting initiatives, and stewardship training and support for the next three years.  This funding is making it possible for TreeKIT to work with the Department of Parks and Rec, Partnerships for Parks, and folks just like you to get out and map the grand trees in the town centers and residential streets of Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, and Blissville.

On our tour today we found many valiant street trees thriving in the margins near Rikers Island, Bowery Bay Water Pollution Control Plant (capacity of 150 MGD), the Astoria Generating Station (1,280 MW fuel oil and natural gas plant), alongside the imposing stone walls topped with barbed wire of Calvary Cemetery, New Calvary Cemetery, and near the myriad metal fabrication and auto-repair shops bordering New Town Creek.

Street trees with Astoria Generating Co. in the background


Queens’ largest tree bed?

Living street tree growing around dead street tree along 19th Avenue.


Beautiful masonry that unfortunately blocks rain that falls on the sidewalk from watering the tree – note the dying branches.


A Tree Grows in Queens: the indomitable Ailanthus makes friends with a telephone pole. Farther down the block, really big trees are surviving and thriving: the concrete sidewalks don’t stand a chance.




Processing data

Data entry. It’s an unglamorous job, but someone’s got to do it. We’ve got a stack of handwritten worksheets from our summer tree mapping parties that need to be fed through a web-based form. Bit by bit, we plug in the numbers… and a map of the urban forest comes out the other end. Data entry may be a drag, but sometimes the outcome is well worth it. Besides, when else do we get a chance to catch up on listening to archives at WFMU?

DPR Contract for Feasibility Study

A huge thank you to the Department of Parks and Rec for funding a feasibility study for working with TreeKIT. It is great to finally have a bit of funding to get our online form and database working as well as enlist Sophia Parafina to get the geometry automagically drawing from the linear measurements.

Once we have this data, we will study how TreeKIT’s super-accurate spatial locations and bed dimensions could be matched up with existing city data. This will enable the migration of historical maintenance records to the correct locations, and provide the basis for stewardship applications.


“Calibrated citizen science” kick-off meeting

We are really excited to be on-the-ground partners for a team of serious computer vision people from five universities. This team is working on how pictures taken by smart phones could be used to maximum utility to generate up to the moment data on urban forests and the people who love them (or hate them). The kick-off meeting this afternoon was exceptionally inspiring.

Partners in Community Forestry – Philadelphia

While Phil was busy managing the Greenbridge Program at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Liz took the early Amtrak down to the Lowes Hotel in Philadelphia for the annual Partners in Community Forestry Conference. The new and improved TreeKit show pulled in an audience of a couple hundred, and we shared our 45 minutes with Kelaine Vargas who came up to the podium to demonstrate Urban Forest Map. It was great to have so many partners in the crowd ranging from Parks to NYRP to Hans (an old classmate of Kelaine and Liz), and to meet so many energetic people working all across the country on similar issues. We are really looking forward to growing together.

Upper Manhattan and the expanding TreeKit team

During the Conflux workshop we met some great folks from upper Manhattan.  Basia and Michael have been organizing neighbors and business owners and stewarding trees around Montefiore Park for several years. Beginning on October 18th, we’ve been working together to bring TreeKit to their neighborhood, not only to map trees but as a community event to engage people in the long-term plan to close the road along the park and redesign the area. On the technical side, Jen and Shira have been deriving start and end points for the area between 133rd and 154th from Convent Avenue to Riverside Drive to update the form. The points as well as contextual information like building footprints and sidewalk edges are exported from ArcGIS as KMZ and added to the Google Map on our form.

Conflux festival this Saturday — East Village

This Saturday, join us for a general TreeKIT workshop as part of the Conflux festival! This is a great time for interested individuals to get a quick orientation and go out and map a couple blocks using our simple hand tools and online map-form. We especially designed this workshop for people who would like to bring TreeKIT back to their own areas of interest. Meet us at 9am this Saturday at St. Marks Church benches – East 10th at 2nd avenue. We’ll be going until noon.