Naomi Davis
Blacks in Green Founder Naomi Davis.

Last summer, residents in West Woodlawn, a primarily African-American community in Chicago, helped identify and map all their neighborhood trees. The project laid the groundwork for this fall’s tree-planting campaign.

Davis: “We’ll get the neighbors together and we’ll present the data. We’ll show them the recommended species options. We want to consider how it flowers in the spring, how it goes to leaf in the summer, the colors it turns in the fall, and how it looks naked in the winter.”

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That’s Naomi Davis, founder of the nonprofit Blacks in Green. She says beauty is not the only goal. Trees can increase property values and provide shade that helps residents stay cool and save energy. They divert storm water, help purify the air, and absorb carbon pollution.

Davis: “It is the environment and the economy. It is about health and wealth. We can work together as neighbors, from the ground up … organize ourselves, train ourselves, and fund ourselves to live in beautiful, healthy places.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Courtesy of Naomi Davis.

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...