Like in many cities, wealthy neighborhoods in Baltimore have lots of trees that provide shade and help cool the neighborhood on hot days. But other parts of Baltimore have few trees.

“Specifically, minority neighborhoods, neighborhoods that have been historically disenfranchised and disinvested in, those are the neighborhoods, unfortunately, that have a very low tree canopy cover,” says Ryan Alston of the Baltimore Tree Trust.

The group hires Baltimore residents and trains them to become neighborhood forestry technicians. These technicians plant new trees in the city and help maintain the urban forest.

“And so we’re looking to these residents that are in these Black and Brown neighborhoods, that are longtime residents of Baltimore city, that have seen kind of the disparities that have happened between neighborhoods and really want to see a change,” Alston says.

She says some technicians work at the tree trust for years and move into more specialized positions — for example, as project coordinators who conduct site assessments before a tree planting.

Others go on to take other jobs in urban forestry.

And she says that’s the point — helping build career pathways for Baltimore residents while planting trees for a greener, cooler city.

Read: The link between racist housing policies of the past and the climate risks of today

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media