Planting Trees for Greener, Cleaner Communities

Edison International partners with California ReLeaf to provide grants to community groups to plant trees.
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Stories : Environment
Stories : Environment

Planting Trees for Greener, Cleaner Communities

Edison International partners with California ReLeaf to provide grants to community groups to plant trees.

Adrienne Thomas’ mother often talked about how nice it would be to have a community garden on the trash-filled dirt lot across the street from their San Bernardino home.

Although Thomas’ mother has since died, her dream was an inspiration for her three daughters. Over the last few years, they honed their skills at a community garden infrastructure workshop, created their own nonprofit, SistersWe, and the owner of the lot donated the property to them.

Then last fall, SistersWe received a $2,000 grant from California ReLeaf and Edison International, part of $50,000 the utility provided to various community groups.

The grant provided true “seed money” for 20 volunteers to make the SistersWe dream a reality. They used the money to plant an initial 10 shade trees, including crepe myrtle, pin oaks and Chinese elm, to create the Muscoy Community Garden. The garden has now grown to 30 trees and their work has been recognized by San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales.

Community Health Action Network volunteers prepare to plant a fruit tree outside the Victorville Senior Center.
Community Health Action Network volunteers prepared to plant a fruit tree outside the Victorville Senior Center last year.

Thomas said she can’t explain how it all came together except it was “God being God.”

“With the planting of 10 trees, SistersWe has beautified a corner that had been an eyesore in the neighborhood for years plus the environmental advantages provided by the future tree canopy and decreasing carbon emissions in the area,” the sisters wrote in their report to Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison.

They will do more planting this year after Edison provided a second $2,000 grant recently for SistersWe to continue their community beautification work.

Edison has been supporting community tree planting and educational groups with grants for California ReLeaf for two years. ReLeaf regrants the money to select community groups.

Even the littlest volunteers pitch in to plant fruit trees in Victorville for the Community Health Action Network.
Even the littlest volunteers pitched in to plant fruit trees last year in Victorville for the Community Health Action Network.

“Edison understands that the region needed more community champions for tree planting and Edison’s support has made it possible for ReLeaf to hold several ‘incubator’ workshops over the last two years to attract over 20 new community organizations,” said Cindy Blain, California ReLeaf executive director. “It is very encouraging to have Edison partner with us to grow greener, cooler and healthier neighborhoods.”

Caroline Choi, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs for Edison International and SCE, said the ReLeaf grants to increase the number of trees in neighborhoods are part of the company’s commitment to combat climate change.

“Helping create green and cool communities supports our shared clean energy goals, enhances energy conservation and benefits our customers in their homes and businesses,” Choi said. “Edison International is proud to support California ReLeaf and its mission to preserve, protect and enhance the state’s urban and community forests.”

SistersWe volunteers plant a tree at Muscoy Community Garden in San Bernardino.
SistersWe volunteers planted a tree last year at Muscoy Community Garden in San Bernardino.

The Community Health Action Network in Victorville also will receive a $2,000 grant this year following the $2,000 grant they received last year. The network’s primary mission is to support nutrition and health for low-income families in the high desert.

Kisha Collier, the network’s program director, said they used last year’s money to plant 30 fruit trees in public areas at the Victorville Senior Center and along Seventh Street in downtown Victorville.

The trees included apples, pears, nectarines and loquats and the fruit will be available for anyone in the community to pick. The goal is to help with food insecurity and to provide a healthy alternative for people with chronic health conditions. The network will have similar fruit tree planting projects this year.

“It is awesome because of the end result that does so much for the community,” she said. “These trees — as long as we take care of them — will last a lifetime,” said Collier.

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