In a recent interview with Alliance for Community Trees or ACTrees, Joint Center Program Director Dr. Autumn Saxton-Ross highlights the work of the Joint Center’s PLACE MATTERS Initiative, and her efforts to address racial and health inequities through equal access to community trees and green spaces.
ACTrees: How is this program making the connection between trees and human health? How are communities with trees and greenspaces healthier?
ASR: We believe where you live, work, and play effects your health. Lack of trees, tree cover, brownfields, and climate change disproportionately affect poor people. I bring the recognition and love of greenspace, and the importance of incorporating youth of color into environmental stewardship. These are their spaces, and we have the potential to lose parks and greenspaces if we don’t create stewardship. This then will effect climate change, public health, and greenspaces into the future.
Our youth are also missing out on a host of careers because they don’t have early-age access and an understanding of the important connection between our health and the presence—or absence—of trees and greenspaces. When we change this, they will naturally become stewards. There’s a lot of research on access to greenspaces, but we’re working with equity and polices that ensure access to green careers, green programs, and greenspaces.
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Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center