Left to right, Kelley Elwood, and daughter Elizabeth, Judith Ramey, Anne Burket, Alderman Peter Braithwaite, Mike Meyers, Richard Weiland and Paul D’Agostino.Photo by Mary Mumbrue

Arbor Day came early to Evanston, when on May 24 City crews planted an oak tree in each of the nine wards – a gift from the Southeast Evanston Association (SEA). The group credits a talk by Paul D’Agostino, assistant director of Public Works, Parks/Forestry, for the inspiration to donate a tree for each of nine public spaces.

“Paul had spoken at our annual meeting and we so much enjoyed his talk about trees and were so impressed by his work,” said SEA President Richard Weiland. Subsequently, said SEA board member Judith Ramey, “we were brainstorming at a meeting about what we would do – we wanted to make a gesture to the whole community.”

“Among our intentions are keeping Evanston green and trying to broaden our perspective beyond southeast Evanston. … The motivation was to express an interest in the quality of life throughout Evanston,” added Mr. Weiland. He said SEA is looking at ways to strengthen the City’s tree ordinance and “will be pursuing it” through the City Council.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite attended the tree planting, accompanied by Second Ward constituents Kelley Elwood and her daughter Elizabeth. “This is a wonderful gesture for the whole community, that the residents came together [to] give something back to the City,” he said.

Five types of oaks were being planted on that clear and sunny Friday before Memorial Day, said Mr. D’Agostino: chinkapin, shingle, hills, swamp white and burr oak. The burr oak planted in Mason Park will grow to about 60 or 70 feet tall, he said, adding, “Elizabeth might be the only one [of those at the ceremony] alive when it gets to be 60 feet.”

Adam Theis and Ray Perez of the City’s Forestry Division dug the hole and planted the tree – their second of nine for the day – with ceremonial help from SEA members, the Elwoods and Ald. Braithwaite. Then they all said “trees” as they smiled for the camera.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...