What can be done to help save Nashville's disappearing urban canopy?
East Nashvillian and District 6 beautification and environment commissioner Jim Gregory will have your answer as well as answers to a host of other tree-related questions at the inaugural Taking Root Community Tree Workshop this weekend across the river in Sylvan Park.
Taking Root is hosted by Nashville Tree Foundation, a nonprofit that works to preserve and enhance Nashville’s urban forests by planting trees in urban areas. Along with tree experts and arborists, Gregory will be speaking at the free community event with his fiancé Will Worral about the state of Nashville’s urban canopy and “its unprecedented decline,” Gregory says.
“If you are a person who really enjoys big trees in your neighborhood and live in a neighborhood going through development, then this is a great workshop for you,” Gregory says. “We want to let people know what we can do as citizens to help stop this decline and reverse and repair it.”
Other topics during the afternoon event will include tree diseases, laws and the Emerald Ash Borer, which Gregory says is quickly making its way down to Tennessee.
“This insect is coming through and pretty much killing every single ash tree and it’s coming down to Tennessee and there’s really no stopping it,” Gregory says.
An attorney will also be on hand to talk about boundary tree rights and what rights you have when it comes to trimming a tree that extends onto your property as well as other legal guidance.
In a city with so much rapid development, Gregory says this is an opportune time to talk about the importance of trees as well as tree rights.
“A lot of people don’t know what their tree rights are. I’ve had people in East Nashville reach out who live next to a lot that is next to development and they come home and every tree on their boundary has been cut down,” Gregory says. “That’s what Taking Root is all about, to just bring people together and make the connections and hopefully in a year or two we can start advancing new legislation to protect our urban canopy. But the bottom line is to give people the knowledge that they didn’t have before.”
Gregory has always had a green thumb, but says he sort of “fell into” the role of District 6 beautification and environment commissioner, which is a volunteer position with Metro Nashville.
“I had no intentions of becoming a huge tree advocate, but at the same time I can’t bury my head in the sand and not talk about it and not try to help get people together to solve this.”
Gregory hopes the event will help the urban canopy conversation branch out into surrounding neighborhoods.
“This is the first city-wide meeting, so this is just the beginning,” he says. "This is the first of many events. We’ll be working closely with the city and the Nashville Tree Foundation and I’m hoping this will lead to more meetings with council people and eventually effect change within our neighborhoods and communities.”
Taking Root: A Community Tree Workshop takes place from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Cohn Elementary School, 4805 Park Avenue.
For more information on Taking Root, RSVP on Facebook or visit www.nashvilletreefoundation.org/taking-root-workshop.