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Parr Center Presents: Ian Leahy, “Tree Equity”
November 2, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
“Tree Equity: Overcoming a Legacy of Environmental Injustice in Cities”
As the climate heats, trees in cities are rapidly transitioning from background aesthetics to life-saving infrastructure. Yet a map of tree cover in any US city is too often a map of wealth. These landscapes, created by a legacy of discrimination and disinvestment generations in the making, lay bare an ethical crisis at the core of our relationship with nature itself. This lecture will introduce the data underlying this pattern as well as the health, economic and psychological problems such inequity exacerbates. It will then address obstacles to resolving it and propose an unconventional psychological approach to begin the process of de-colonizing such built landscapes.
Ian Leahy is Vice President of Urban Forestry at American Forests. Since 2014, Ian has overseen development of American Forests’ award-winning urban forestry program, now called Tree Equity, focused on tackling the national crisis of climate change and public health through tree canopy in lower income and communities of color. Ian has focused on building a program that is a national movement leader through such tools as Tree Equity Score and Vibrant Cities Lab, local capacity in cities nationwide through a uniquely comprehensive change model, career exploration and pathways, and innovative financing such as helping develop City Forest Credits. Prior to American Forests, Ian served as the urban and community forestry coordinator for the District of Columbia and ran a landscape business in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He has studied environmental management at Cornell University and Yale University.