By Keith Wood
The Partners in Community Forestry conference was held November 17-18, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. This year’s conference brought back together nearly 400 in-person attendees in addition to remote audience members. Those in attendance were bursting with enthusiasm to be back together presenting, learning, and networking all things urban and community forestry (U&CF)!
Some of the highlights of the meeting for me included:
Prior to the conference the state and federal U&CF coordinators met on November 16, first separately in the morning and then together that afternoon. The state coordinators’ session covered national/regional U&CF economic impact studies, updates from the Arbor Day Foundation on its Tribal Campus USA program, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s U&CF standard development program, and updates from the NASF U&CF Committee. In the afternoon, the state coordinators joined forces with their remote federal counterparts to discuss national policy, legislation, and program updates from both the USDA Forest Service and American Forests. Local stories from the Nebraska and Maryland Forest Services’ U&CF programs were spliced in and received rave reviews.
The conference’s general sessions begun the following day. Dan Lambe of the Arbor Day Foundation welcomed everyone to the conference and challenged its participants to consider the “WHY” of what we do. We are great at explaining “WHAT” we do in U&CF, he said, but the “WHY” is so much more powerful.
Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, took the stage the next day to tell the crowd her “WHY.” Majora’s uplifting story of her work to achieve tree and green space equity in a historically disadvantaged community in New York City had the audience riveted. Environmental justice and green space in these communities is essential, she said, because they undergird the development of local businesses and place-based value that together help to retain residents committed to making their communities wonderful places to live, work, and play.
NASF’s own Whitney Forman-Cook then took the general session stage as part of a panel of communications professionals that discussed strategies for sharing our “WHY” in compelling ways through different modes of media. Great suggestions and insights in dealing with all types of media and story-telling were shared.
The conference ended with a presentation on the Green Heart research study, an urban laboratory in Louisville examining the positive impacts of large-scale tree planting on harmful air pollutants and heart health. Also as part of the conference, attendees were able to take an afternoon and experience a forestry-themed tour of the Louisville area of their choosing. In addition, other groups and meetings came together around the event:
- Society of Municipal Arborists Annual International Conference and Trade Show
- Alliance for Community Trees Day
- National U&CF Coordinators Annual Meeting
- Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition breakfast meeting and policy listening session
- Urban Wood Network Urban Wood Academy
Want to learn more about urban and community forests? Get involved with the NASF Urban and Community Forestry Committee by reaching out to staff member Keith Wood.