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Treeless Streets Can Get Greener

A personal note by Karla Nagy, Vice President for Operations

Dear Friend,

Friends of the Urban Forest staff member Karla Nagy stands next to a completed sidewalk garden
That's me with a new sidewalk garden on Shotwell Street in the Mission neighborhood, 2011

If you moved to San Francisco from elsewhere, as I did, you might have felt like its plants and trees came out of a Dr. Seuss book. When I arrived here from Cleveland in 1993, I became curious to learn more about San Francisco's fabulous flora. My journey started with volunteering to plant trees with Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF), and it led me to work here for the last decade.

Along the way, I got a degree in landscape architecture. And when we received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install sidewalk gardens, I became FUF's sidewalk garden director and led our first garden project in the Mission. Since then, our Sidewalk Gardens program has replaced 123,000 square feet (over two football fields!) of concrete with beautiful native, drought-tolerant plants!

In almost 30 years of living in (and loving) San Francisco, I've seen treeless streets get greener and neighborhoods get more resilient. I still walk by the trees I planted... so lovely to see 🥰.

I'm proud of where we are today. I've seen the potential for urban foresters to advance environmental justice by ensuring that all communities get the trees they want and need. And our Green Teens and Green Crew programs are cultivating the environmental stewards of tomorrow!

Lush sidewalk garden
I love seeing the results of our plantings on my walks around San Francisco, such as these sidewalk gardens and trees on Hayes Street. Photo by Jim Warshell.

You know how in transitional moments in life you may find yourself reflecting on where you've been, where you are, and where you're going? Now that I'm leaving the FUF team for my next adventure as a consultant, I wanted to share these reflections with you.

I'll always be on Team Tree, and I'm so glad you are too. Say hi to me if you see me at a tree planting — I'm the one with the purple hair!

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