City Trees

July/August 2011

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President’s Message Doug Still T his past spring, I watched the news as storms and tornados slammed parts of the United States, particularly the South and Midwest. Although I com- miserated with colleagues faced with emergency storm response and cleanup, I brushed it off as something that hap- pens elsewhere, as I was still on autopi- lot with my own professional concerns. Then a tornado hit nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, devastat- ing the tree canopy there. I still didn’t wake up. But I got my wakeup call at 3:30 am on June 9th, when a severe thunder- storm slammed the south side of Providence, causing the even- tual loss of over 200 City trees. This was my first real storm crisis as city forester. Our crews and emergency contractors removed trees that fell on houses, blocked streets, and smashed cars. No one was hurt. While my division and the City responded fairly well overall, I certainly learned a lot, and I know how to coordinate operations better the next time, both in the immediate aftermath and in the fol- lowing weeks of cleanup efforts. I owe thanks to SMA for preparing me for what I did well, due to the numerous SMA conference lectures and City Trees articles on storm situations and also thanks to conversations with SMA members who have had to deal with much worse. However, I’m ashamed to say that I had not taken advantage of the i-Tree Storm Damage Assessment Protocol Utility prior to the storm (SMA is an i-Tree partner, by the way). Well, now I realize that there is no better time than right now to prepare for a storm—before it takes you by surprise. There is such value in being an SMA member, because our orga- nization helps prepare us for most of what we will encounter in our professional lives. This includes everyday management issues to storms and other crises that threaten our trees. The ability to learn from peer municipal arborists through SMA net- works is a benefit that cannot be found elsewhere. This message isn’t fully understood by all our peers. In fact, I bet there is someone you know or work with who doesn’t belong to SMA, but should. I would like to ask that you and every member of SMA join us in our membership campaign by recruiting four new members in your city or region. Utilize one of our new membership categories—Municipal (group), Corporate (group), or Affiliate (for folks other than municipal arborists). Think outside the box: try to recruit a non-profit colleague, another city official, a landscape architect, or an engi- neer who would grow professionally by exposure to SMA. You can do it. It will only take five minutes to reach out to each colleague! While their being a part of SMA will be a boon to our organization, mostly it will benefit your colleagues and your local urban forest. Executive Director’s Message Jerri J. LaHaie S peaking of membership, we are slowly but surely becoming a global organization. Luis Hernan Gonzalez from Santiago, Chile, recently posted to Facebook that he just joined SMA and hopes to share experiences with urban trees. Welcome, Luis; we look forward to hearing from you regularly! Whether you love or hate social media, you have to admit that it unites people around the world in ways we never thought possible. I’m sure Luis just happened upon SMA and thought he’d give it a try. I say this because as long as I have been around, we have never had a formal membership campaign. In the past few years, we have signed memorandums of understanding with both the United Kingdom & Ireland Chapter and the Australia Chapter of ISA to assist us with recruiting members in those countries. If it’s always been our modus operandi to let potential members find us, why change things now? Why challenge our current members to recruit members in their states? Why expand our membership categories to include city departments, allied professionals, state councils, and non- profits? Why enlist the help of our partners, state and regional coordinators, sponsors, and others to identify new members? The answer is simple. We can no longer preach to the choir. Our members are uniquely qualified to speak to the entire life cycle of urban trees, and it is way past time for us to make a concerted effort to share the knowledge and expertise of our members. I hope to meet with many of our Australian members dur- ing the ISA Conference in Sydney this summer to learn whether they feel SMA membership is valuable to them, how it can be more so, and how we can better engage our members from Down Under. While we are separated by thousands of miles, we are really only a click away from each other and connected by our common sense of pur- pose and experience in urban forestry. As you travel in your jobs, be it to city council meetings, conferences and workshops put on by state councils or non-profit groups, or any tree-related gathering, I urge you to reach out to those who you feel would benefit from SMA membership. We haven’t had a dues increase in several years–SMA membership is a tremendous value and we aim to keep it that way, all the way around the world, city by city. 5

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