Press Releases

For Immediate Release - Openlands Launches Major Urban Forestry Initiative October 10

October 9, 2013


CONTACT:    Brandon Hayes
312-479-0819 (m)
(Media inquiries only)


***Kick-Off Event in Chicago Lawn Celebrates Partnership-Fueled Initiative Including the City of Chicago, The Southwest Organizing Project, and Community Volunteers***

(Chicago – October 9, 2013) Openlands launches a major tree planting program in Chicago, the Openlands Urban Forestry Initiative. The focus of the initiative is to increase the number and quality of the trees in the city, while creating educational opportunities for citizens to care about and to plant trees within their neighborhood parks, streets, and natural areas. Through hands-on education, the community will learn the multiple benefits of trees and be encouraged to adopt and care for their trees. Beyond providing shade and beauty, city trees clean air, capture and clean water, support biodiversity, and conserve energy.

Working in partnership with The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), the Openlands Urban Forestry Initiative begins in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood on the South Side. A kick-off event is on Thursday, October 10 at 1:30pm. Openlands TreeKeepers™ and members of the neighborhood will plant trees on the 6000 block of South Maplewood Street, adjacent to Donald L. Morrill Math & Science School, 6011 South Rockwell Street, Chicago.

“Chicago’s motto is ‘City in a garden’ and generations of Chicagoans have helped preserve and protect this legacy,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Trees are a critical part of our heritage as they enhance the livability of our neighborhoods and the health of our city. We welcome the Openlands Urban Forestry Initiative and look forward to working together to improve sustainability and quality of life throughout Chicago.”

“Since launching the TreeKeepers program in 1991, Openlands has been at the forefront of protecting Chicago’s urban forest through the dedication of citizen volunteers,” said Openlands President and CEO Jerry Adelmann. “This initiative adds tree planting to the scope of Openlands’ work on a huge, but focused scale. Yet even as we embark on this new initiative, our commitment remains on making a smart impact, not simply planting trees, but working with communities to both plant and care for their new trees.”

"SWOP is in the midst of a campaign to reclaim houses that are now vacant because of the foreclosure crisis,” said Executive Director Jeff Bartow. “The partnership with Morrill School and Openlands is a way to strengthen that work because it brings schools, families, and other organizations together to make positive change in our neighborhoods."

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is supporting the initiative with a $500,000 grant to plant 5,000 trees between now and the end of 2015. The Boeing Company is providing support with a grant to Openlands to provide education and outreach in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood.

Founded in 1963, Openlands is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful metropolitan conservation organizations, having helped secure, protect, and provide public access to more than 55,000 acres of land for parks, forest preserves, national wildlife refuges, land and water greenway corridors, and urban gardens. Learn more at

The Southwest Organizing Project is a nonprofit organization that has been instrumental in bridging the racial divide through relationship-building, housing and economic development, and advocacy around immigration education violence and predatory lending in Chicago Lawn.

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