I’ve got some really special blog posts coming up that I’m super excited about. With the release of my new novel ARROW, I’m interviewing a bunch of people who helped me make the book a reality and celebrate its release. First up is Andrew Smiley from the fantastic TreeFolks, and I’m giving away an ARC of ARROW plus other goodies at the end of this post.
TreeFolks is a non-profit in my local Austin, Texas, area, and they’re going to be joining me at the virtual launch party for ARROW on June 23 with BookPeople. They’re even donated some awesome TreeFolks stickers for the pre-order goodies, and I’m going to be donating to TreeFolks so that a new tree will be planted for EVERY copy of ARROW that was ordered at BookPeople through the party.
Let me introduce you to Andrew and TreeFolks, and the wonderful work they do.
Hi Andrew! Thank you for joining me on my blog. I’m thrilled you’re here. To start out, could you tell us about Tree Folks?
TreeFolks is Central Texas’ only nonprofit dedicated to community forestry and has been spearheading efforts to protect and expand Austin’s urban tree canopy for three decades. Our mission is to empower Central Texans to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees. Since 1989 we have planted nearly 3 million trees, distributed over 125,000 trees to local neighborhoods, engaged over 19,000 volunteers, and educated children and adults about planting, protecting, and sustaining trees.
During the past decade, TreeFolks has expanded our programming outside of Travis County to help Central Texas heal in the wake of natural disasters. When the largest wildfires in state history destroyed massive swaths of Bastrop County’s signature Lost Pines ecosystem in 2011, TreeFolks organized an enormous planting campaign of 2 million trees. Similarly, when floodwaters ravaged the Blanco River Valley in the Texas Hill Country in 2015, TreeFolks stepped in and planted over 200,000 saplings along 20 miles of river. These native trees are now bringing greenery and wildlife – as well as a restored sense of place – back to both of these communities.
That’s amazing! What do you do at Tree Folks and what do you like best about your job there?
I am the Executive Director of TreeFolks — I serve as CEO and CFO, lead fundraiser, spokesperson, and steward of our mission and strategic plan. Working with TreeFolks is all about the trees and all about the people. Our collaborators, sponsors, funders, partners, volunteers, and board members all keep the work enjoyable. Perhaps the most important part of my work, though, is supporting our committed and talented staff by ensuring they have all the tools, resources, and information needed to continue excelling at their jobs.
What do you love most about trees?
I love the sense of place that trees create. The variance in species of trees around can indicate where in the world you are. Parks and public spaces, homes and neighborhoods, schools, libraries, and businesses are all enhanced with the presence of trees.
Why is it important to have lots of trees around?
Trees provide so many benefits. They help purify the air and water, produce oxygen, serve as habitat and food source for wildlife, prevent erosion, intercept flood waters, sequester carbon emissions, shade the ground and promote cooling.
Some people think that forests and cities don’t go together. Do you think that’s true?
Urban forests are critical to the health of the planet and its people. Cities offer some of the best spaces for trees — along roadways, sidewalks, and bike lanes; in public places and commercial areas; and in our neighborhoods and communities. Researchers have found that cities begin reaping the greatest benefits of its urban forest when canopy coverage reaches 40%, so we have some work to do!
You’re helping us off to a great start. What can people do to make sure their world includes plenty of trees?
Plant a tree, or plant many trees. Take care of the trees you plant. Volunteer with groups like TreeFolks, and support their missions and their work with a meaningful donation. Learn about taking care of trees and teach others to appreciate all that trees can provide. And, be an advocate for policies that help protect our trees and forests.
Thank you so much, Andrew!
Learn more about TreeFolks and the work they do here. As I mentioned, all preorders for ARROW through BookPeople will lead to a new tree in the Austin area planted by TreeFolks. But if you order your copy of ARROW through a different bookstore, a new tree can be planted in your honor too! Register your order in the form here on my website, and I’ll make a donation to One Tree Planted, one of TreeFolks’ partners, to have them plant a tree for the books you ordered. You’ll also get fabulous goodies, like a signed bookmark, Be A Tree Hero sticker, and ARROW wildflower seed paper. Register your book order today, and let’s get new trees planted!