Advocates: How to Run for ANC Commissioner

ANC Commissioner Washington DC government ward election rules regulations deadline application forms

Guest post by Bob Summersgill, Casey Trees Lead Citizen Forester & ANC 3F07 || Twitter: @summersgill

Want to make a difference in your neighborhood?  Run for ANC Commissioner and have the opportunity to have a say on recommendations that get made on a number of elements that affect your community: provide advice and local knowledge on liquor licenses, development projects, historic reviews, zoning variances, and public space applications including sidewalk cafes and curb cuts. Commissioners can also have a significant influence in restoring, enhancing and protecting the tree canopy, as trees can be included in almost every development, school plan, playground, planned driveway and sidewalk, even parking lots.

An Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner is an elected, unpaid, neighborhood activist.  There are 296 commissioners organized into 40 ANCs. Each commissioner represents approximately 2000 people in an area called a Single Member District (SMD). Each Commissioner is elected for a two-year term in a non-partisan election.


Most ANC Commissioners are elected without opposition. You only need to get on the ballot. You may want to ask the current commissioner if they plan to run again. Don’t be shy about saying you are interested.

To find out what SMD you are in, and who the current commissioner is, go to It has information about your SMD and ANC. Contact information for every commissioner, maps, and links to the ANC websites and the Board of Elections can be found here.


The first day you may register as a candidate, fill out some forms, and get your nominating petitions. The Board of Elections makes this fairly easy. They won’t let you miss a step. There are no hard questions.

You will be given a packet of information. Included in the package are a map of your SMD and a list of all of the registered voters. You will need to get the signatures of 25 register voters of any party that live in your SMD. You count as one. Verify that each signature belongs to a registered voter.


You must return your nominating petitions to the Board of Elections by Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm. There is no advantage to waiting until the last minute. Turn them in as soon as you get all 25 and be done with it. If another person is running, you may need to campaign. You may raise funds to pay for expenses. The fundraising limit is $25.00 !!

GENERAL ELECTION DAY – November 4, 2014

All of your constituents will vote at the same place. Consider standing outside the elections to help your neighborhoods put a face to your name – shake their hand and ask them to vote for you – it won’t hurt!


If you win the election, you will be sworn in on January 2, 2015. The Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions will provide orientation and training. These are very useful, and should be attended if at all possible.

Timeline of Events

  • 07.07.14 – You may register as a candidate.
  • 08.06.14 – You must return your nominating petitions to the Board of Elections (by 5 p.m.)
  • 11.04.14 - General Election Day
  • 01.02.15 – If you win your election, you will be sworn in!

Canopy Award’s Live Band Preview: Unique talents make for a special sound

As part of the entertainment for April 24th’s #CanopyAwards, we’ll be joined by two incredible live bands.

One – the Bumper Jacksons - are a D.C.- and Baltimore-based group with a sound so unique, they consider it “trad jazz, ragtime, and pre-war country.” Their unique blend of music is reflective of their unconventional cast – lead singers Jess Eliot Myhre and Chris Ousley play a combination of clarinet, washboard, ukulele, banjo and guitar, while you’ll find bandmates Alex Lacquement on the upright bass, Dan Cohan on the suitcase percussion, Brian Priebe on the trombone and Dave Hadley on something called the “pedal steel” (we don’t know what that is; we just know we love their music).

The second half of the night’s musical talent will be provided by Andrew Lipke and the Azrael Quartet. “As a highly active artist, producer, songwriter, entertainer, and over-all member of the Philadelphia music scene,” Lipke has received considerable praise not only for his own music, but for his chops as a producer as well. With the #CanopyAwards only a few days away, we decided to ask him a few questions -

CT: Any green interests?

Well I hate to say it but I have whatever the opposite of a green thumb is…my father is an amazing gardener and can make any plant grow pretty much anywhere. I, unfortunately, did not get this gene. However I am very much into recycling and also conserving water.

CT: How old were you when you started playing music? 

I started playing the piano when I was 5 and guitar when I was 12. I recently got the opportunity to perform an arrangement I wrote of one of my songs – Up To Here – for full orchestra. That was a dream of mine for a long time, so to get to hear my music played in that way was a thrill…and it’s going to happen again!

CT: Any stories, memories or songs that relate to trees at all? Connect us to you through trees, if possible.

I was born in South Africa and when I was about 8 years old – with the help of my father – I did the thing where you place the avocado pit above a little container of water to pull the roots out. The pit grew very well and so we decided to plant it out in the yard. 7 years later we returned and the tree had grown into a very healthy avocado tree and as I understand it, now – 28 years later! – the avocados are giant and delicious! 

CT: Excited about performing for our #CanopyAwards?

Yes! Love performing with The Azrael String Quartet and to do so in a classy venue, for a great cause, is icing on the cake!

CT: What can our audience expect from you April 24th?

We do a mixture of my original music and some cover songs that I’ve arranged for myself and the string quartet. The players in my quartet are world class classical musicians and performing with them is always inspirational for me.  And we always have fun!!

A sneak peek at the event space – Union Market’s DOCK5 – and Andrew’s song “Up to Here” is featured in our video at the top, and we’ve shared a few more songs to check out from the Bumper Jacksons and Andrew below:

Plant a tree and our Tree Rebates will help you save money

plant trees washington dc maryland virginia cash back save money discount

Warming weather means its time to spruce up your yard, and naturally, we recommend adding trees to it! And to make purchasing trees a more affordable option for you, we offer Tree Rebates up to $100 per tree for those planted on private residential or commercial property in the District.

Participation is simple: purchase a tree from a vendor of your choosing, plant it in D.C., then download our form and submit the rebate with a purchase receipt for each tree. There is no limit to the number of rebates per property.

Many large canopy trees, thanks to their immense environmental benefits, qualify for rebates of up to $100 per tree. Most small and medium canopy trees also qualify, for rebates up to $50 per tree. Invasives, dwarf and ash trees however do not qualify for a rebate of any amount. Refer to our species list for more help.

But where can you buy a tree? Here’s our list of D.C. metro area nurseries and garden centers capable of helping customers select rebate-eligible trees – but remember, we’ll accept Tree Rebates for trees purchased at any nursery or garden center, listed below or not, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.

Most popular, inside the District:

Most popular, outside the District:

Other nurseries in the region:

Need helping planting that tree once you’ve got it? We’ve got all the instructions you’ll need that might’ve fallen out of the box, kind of like the directions to last year’s holiday present (it’s still sitting in the closet, isn’t it?). We’ve even got videos – lets just say we really want this to be fool proof.

The Tree Rebate Program is funded by the District Department of the Environment.

Treelines: Week of April 7, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Scientists find new way to make high-tech energy storage devices from trees
    via DNA

    “Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) found that cellulose – the most abundant organic polymer on earth and a key component of trees – can be heated in a furnace in the presence of ammonia and turned into the building blocks for supercapacitors.”

  • Duke Energy suspends program using pesticide to stunt trees’ growth
    by Stephanie Coueignoux, WSOCTV

    “A Duke Energy spokeswoman said they wanted to keep trees there from growing into power lines. Tree trimming is very expensive, and those costs go straight to customers. Many are concerned about the long-term effects, include those on human health.”

  • The sadness behind the Central African Republic’s mango trees
    by Tim Whewell, BBC News

    “The Central African Republic has been torn apart by inter-ethnic violence in the last 12 months. The conflict has left its mark on the landscape in many ways. You can always tell where there used to be a village by the sudden profusion of mango trees in the middle of nowhere.”

  • Young NM scientist experiments with Pecan orchards and carbon dioxide removal
    by John Fleck, ABQ Journal

    “Albert Zuo and Eli Echt-Wilson, a pair of La Cueva High School juniors, were curious about the optimal way to grow trees to “sequester” carbon, one approach to reducing the impact of fossil fuels on Earth’s climate. With some inspiration from La Cueva biology teacher Jason DeWitte, the pair built a computer simulation of an orchard of growing trees.”

  • Reflecting on the loss of the Eisenhower Tree
    by Jason Sobel, Golf Channel

    “This is a story about a tree. But really, it’s about so much more than that. This is a story about a tree that was born lucky.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!

Free Uber ride for #CanopyAwards helps you arrive in style

Why not arrive in style to what is set to be the biggest and brightest celebration of D.C.’s trees?

We’re partnering with UBER to make sure your trip to the Canopy Awards — at DOCK5 @ Union Market on April 24 — is just as stylish and fun as the event itself. And we’ve made it incredibly easy for you.

When you’re ready to leave on the 24th:

  • Download the UBER app on your phone and create an account (for iPhone here, and Android here).
  • Tap the profile icon in the top left – then tap “Promotions”
  • Enter in the promo code: CASEYTREES
  • Order your personal Uber (vehicle options: UberX; Black car; SUV)
  • Get up to $25.00 off your first ride

NOTE: DC users only. New users only. Not valid on uberTAXI.

Not familiar with Union Market? Here’s how else you can get there:



You believed in the work that we do, the people we employ (staff and volunteers alike), the communities we touch, and the importance of our city’s trees.

It’s that simple – that’s why we were voted the District’s “Best Nonprofit” in this year’s Washington City Paper #bestofdc competition. But how we won is entirely thanks to YOU!

You cast your vote; you encouraged your family and friends to do the same; you tweeted, posted, and hashtagged all over the place, helping us gather all the support you could; and for all this, we’re eternally grateful.

But this award is really a reflection of you – we wouldn’t be capable of the impact that we’ve been able to have on neighborhoods across the District without your energy, support and enthusiasm. We thank you today, tomorrow and every day for all that you do.


From all of us here at Casey Trees,

Thank You.


Readers say:

“Once you take a close look at how a city treats its trees, you realize it’s connected to how it treats its people.”

Councilmember Cheh pushes to move UFA (and D.C.’s trees) under DDOE

by Pablo de Oliveira, Graduate Advocacy Intern

Chair of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced the “Transportation Reorganization Act of 2014” Bill Tuesday proposing a sweeping overhaul of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).  Of particular interest is the proposed “transfer of the Tree Management Administration to the District of Department of the Environment, where it shall be known as the Urban Forestry Division.” This moves the care of our District’s street tree management to the lead agency for administration and oversight of environmental and energy programs, services, laws, and regulations. It also potentially changes administration’s mission to “establish policies and programs to support a robust urban tree canopy…and the development and maintenance of trails.”

Members of the public now have an opportunity to voice their concerns, support, or suggestions to Councilmember Cheh’s reorganization act.  The bill will next be discussed in public hearings in the coming months. We’ll keep you updated on this proposal and your opportunities for voicing your thoughts (as well as our own), but we encourage you to start the conversation now on Twitter & Facebook. Let us know what you think.


For more information on these changes and other proposed reorganizations of DDOT, see these articles by Greater Greater Washington and Washington Post, as well as Councilmember Cheh’s press office.

Tree of the Month: Tree of Heaven

By Stephanie Juchs, Community Education Coordinator

“There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly . . . survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.”

 This quote about the tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissma, which serves as the central metaphor for the story A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, provides a glimpse into the reasons behind the species success outside its home range and what makes it such a powerful threat to our native habitat. While it serves as a great analogy in the popular story for the main character’s ability to thrive, this tree is an unwelcome guest in many places and has often been given the more appropriate moniker, the Tree of Hell.

The tree of heaven has a long history in the United States, first being brought over from Europe by a Philadelphia gardener in 1784 as an ornamental specimen. Once used in its native range of China and Taiwan for medicinal purposes and as a host plant to feed silkworms, the tree quickly became a favorite in urban landscapes in the United States due to its fast growth and resistance to air pollution.  However, it wasn’t long before the tree’s invasive tendencies had worn the bloom off of the tree of heaven’s allure.

Tree of heaven has all the makings of a successful invader: prolific seed production, fast growth and ability to grow even in the most unfavorable conditions. Ailanthus can reproduce both sexually, from seed starting from seedling age as well as asexually from the roots and stump. The tree is dioecious, meaning it has male and female flowers on separate trees – but the female specimens have been known to produce as many as 325,000 seeds per tree! The tree easily can grow between 3 and 14 feet during its seedling years, reaching a maximum height of 65 to 100 feet tall when mature. Not only do young Ailanthus seedlings outcompete native species by their growth rate but also with a natural herbicide called ailanthone. This compound found in the tree’s bark, leaves, and other tissues is toxic to many other plants and can inhibit any neighboring plants from establishing nearby. Tree of heaven can also thrive where almost no plant species can, growing out of a crack in the sidewalk or in areas with high levels of sulfur and mercury (making it suitable for the hardships of an urban environment and leading to its prevalence in the cityscape).

Perhaps if Ailanthus wasn’t so invasive and there weren’t so many around, maybe we could find beauty in its tropical foliage and abundant winged seeds. With its large compound leaves the tree of heaven is often mistaken for our native black walnut or sumac species but there are some distinct differences: the tree of heaven has alternatively arranged compounded leaves made up of 11-25 leaflets with smooth, not serrated, margins and a glandular tooth located near the leaf base. And unlike the distinct leaf scar of the black walnut, the tree of heaven has large heart shaped leaf scars that are difficult to miss when the tree is without leaves. Its smooth bark conveys its impressive growth rate with tan fissures that look like stretch marks that appear as it matures. The flowers that occur in early summer are large clusters of yellow above the leaves with male flowers being more conspicuous and abundant than their female counterparts. In female trees these flowers gave way to winged papery seeds with twisted tips that turn reddish over the course of the season. Almost every part of the tree has lived up to Ailanthus’ Chinese translation of a “foul smelling tree,” with the male flowers and the bark and leaves (when crushed) smelling of burnt or rancid peanut butter

While undesirable in most places in the United States, the tree of heaven is notoriously hard to remove, especially once it has established a taproot. Specimens have been known to survive cutting, burning and having herbicide applied and come back all the more vigorous. Therefore, seedlings should be removed as early as possible to prevent establishment. Once the trees become larger repeated cutting and possibly even repeated herbicide applications to the cut stump or the leaves is required. The tree of heaven also lacks any major pests or pathogens that could potentially keep its population in check – however, prevention is always the preferred method of control.

For D.C. residents, since the tree of heaven poses such an environmental threat, its removal does not require replacement under the District Urban Forest Preservation Act and the Tree of heaven is not eligible for any of our residential planting programs. For more information about invasive species that threaten the District’s tree canopy and how to control these species, consider attending one of our non-native invasive removal workshops held in the spring or summer.