Brooklyn Student Creates a Movement to Plant Trees With Green Space Initiative
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Brooklyn Student Creates a Movement to Plant Trees With Green Space Initiative

The Climate Leaders Fellowship is a leadership development program for students interested in climate change and environmental sustainability. The online program is provided by a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read our interview with fellowship participant, Tabor, below!

My name is Tabor Axelrod Paoli. I live and have lived for my entire life in Brooklyn. I am 15, and I am interested in chess, socializing, politics and making a change in my community.

What specific problem were you addressing in your community?

Lack of green space around underprivileged areas of Brooklyn.

What did you do for your project?

Originally my project focused on charting each vacant tree bed around specific areas of Brooklyn. After doing this we would campaign for spots to be given a tree using the NYC Million Tree Initiative.

This project has gradually grown and will continue to function, now working through multiple school clubs we are also trying to bring a centralized introduction to climate activism and curriculum.

How did you implement your project?

Originally we conducted a pilot study in Windsor Terrace, a local Brooklyn neighborhood. During this we discovered that it was most efficient to map trees directly into google earth, by address so that tree beds could be called in and followed up easily.

Following this we contacted the NYC 311 service in order to request that trees be planted in this area. In addition, we make sure to strategically choose which tree beds we put pressure on to better introduce green space where it is less present.

Where did you do it?

The original study was in Flatbush, but I realized during the process that I needed to conduct a pilot study to work out all of the methodology on a smaller area, so I piloted the study by doing one neighborhood of Brooklyn, Windsor Terrace. My project, NYCEarth, is ongoing and will expand to all of Brooklyn.

Which groups of people did you try to get to engage with your project?

We promote peer advocacy and youth leadership, and have always had a focus on climate and community improvement. In addition to this focus primarily on high school-aged peoples we also welcome climate advocates of all ages.

What were the results?

Currently we have requested the planting of 54 trees, and mapped over 100 in addition to Windsor Terrace. My project has recruited other youth and presently extends into two schools, Murrow High School and Millennium Brooklyn High School. We also plan to work with John Jay School for Law and Midwood Elementary and High School.

In addition to this, we have aided in the organization of a neighborhood cleanup, the Clean Bushwick Initiative, and the scouting events of several neighborhood’s tree beds.

What partner organization did you work with?

I worked with local non-profit organization Beautify Brooklyn to create NYCEarth.

How did participating in the Climate Leaders Fellowship make you feel? Are you proud of your results?

So far I have been, so much so that I plan to continue. The Climate Leaders Fellowship has made me feel in many ways emboldened and empowered, and has given the resources needed to help create this organization to aid my community.

Anything else you want to tell us about your project?

I found the usage of social advertising quite useful and it was a skill I was able to learn from the Fellowship. I plan to reapply for the upcoming fellowship in the Spring and am incredibly grateful for the support and skills it gave me!

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone

Kayla joined Rustic Pathways in 2020 as the Director of Special Projects. She has nearly a decade of experience in communications and marketing. At Rustic Pathways, Kayla is dedicated to helping high school students discover their passion for exploring the world through summer travel programs. She drives impactful initiatives to empower students through meaningful travel experiences worldwide. Based in San Jose, California, Kayla loves the outdoors, live music and travel.