FALLing into the 2020 Planting Season

KIB workers offloading trees

I have been thinking a lot recently about faith, compassion, and how to support Keep Indianapolis  Beautiful’s community through the challenges 2020 has presented us all. 

For me, last week marked the most important dates in the Jewish calendar—Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The tradition on Rosh Hashanah is to eat apples dipped in honey, for a good and sweet year. The apple I enjoyed was sweet and I’m hopeful that the next 12 months will be better than the last 12.

This month marks the return of fall projects. To kick off the season, KIB staff did a team workday at the Flanner House Orchard & GreenSpace. After touring the urban farm, we weeded along the pathways and under the fruit trees in the young orchard. Neighbors around Flanner House, near Watkins Park, previously had little access to many fresh food options. KIB worked with Flanner House and residents to plant the fruit orchard three years ago as part a much bigger effort to combat food insecurity. Soon the apples, pears, and paw paws will be available at Cleo’s Bodega Grocery and Café, right next to the GreenSpace. After a morning of hard work, my colleague Joseph Jarzen and I enjoyed a working lunch at Cleo’s Café. KIB is proud to partner with Flanner House as they work toward a healthier and greener community there. Hopefully, the apples will be sweet!

On Yom Kippur, tradition calls for both turning to those we have wronged to ask for forgiveness and forgiving those who have wronged us. KIB works hard to work with all our neighbors to make Indy a better place, but sometimes we get it wrong. Every year we plant thousands of trees and we make an effort to contact neighbors before we put them in the ground. This is to inform them of our work and allow individuals to opt out if they prefer not to have a tree. Sometimes, however, we find out that neighbors don’t want a new tree while we’re planting it. 

Last week in the Watson-McCord neighborhood, I was planting with our Community Forestry staff. I had finished digging the hole when a neighbor came out to complain, listing the various reasons why she did not want a tree in front of her house. In that moment, it wasn’t important for me to list off the benefits of trees. Instead, my colleague, Hillary and I listened. We acknowledged her concerns, apologized for not communicating enough, and filled the hole back in without planting a tree. While the vast majority of people love seeing new trees go into the ground in their neighborhoods, sometimes we don’t get it right. We’re a perpetual work-in-progress! I thank you for your support, and your patience.

If you would like trees on your street, please let us know! We are particularly interested in parts of town that are devoid of mature trees so we can start to make a difference. If you get one of our flyers, or see a sign that trees are coming, and you don’t want a tree, please let us know. Rest assured, we check all our voicemails, and don’t want to plant something that doesn’t work for you. We want to be your partner, and work with you to make Indy a better place.


Curious what KIB is doing this fall? 

On October 24th, in true KIB fashion, we are celebrating Indianapolis’ Bicentennial by planting trees. A grove of 200 trees will be planted in Garfield Park to continue to serve neighbors over the next 200 years. An important part of our celebration is bringing together the wonderful and diverse communities that make up Indianapolis. Ten leaders of different religious faiths will join KIB staff, City representatives, and Garfield Park neighbors to highlight the many ways in which it is important to care for the world around us. During this Bicentennial Planting, we will join together to symbolically plant the last 20 trees of this 200-tree grove. We will be streaming it on Facebook Live on October 24—stay tuned!

Many in the Indianapolis community lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Federal CARES Act, however, KIB was recently awarded a grant that will allow us to hire up to 20 people impacted by the pandemic. The positions we have available are temporary, but, if you have always wanted to work with KIB to make the city greener and cleaner for a few months, let us know! Contact us at jobs@kibi.org

Lastly, you know that we love having huge numbers of volunteers out to plant trees. This fall, however, we are continuing to limit those projects as the COVID-19 health crisis continues. If you are unable to make it to a different KIB project, like a GreenSpace workday or a Great Indy Cleanup, please consider making a financial contribution of $25 for each volunteer hour you would normally give to KIB. Your gift is so meaningful to us this year and will enable us to emerge strong from the crises of the past year. You can donate to KIB here: www.kibi.org/donate

Thanks for the consideration.