Samy Sekar – Why I Stand Up For Trees

Stand Up For Trees, Casey Trees’ advocacy workshop offered twice-yearly, is Saturday, January 30. If you haven’t signed up yet, Samy Sekar is here to tell you what she gained from the experience last January.

 Samy Sekar, a researcher at a nonprofit specializing in independent research into environmental issues via economics, is deeply invested in environmental issues on a global scale. But in D.C., her recently adopted home, she still had a lot to learn about how to make an impact, which is why she signed up for last January’s Stand Up For Trees class.

Casey Trees: How’d you get involved with Casey Trees?

Samy Sekar: I’ve heard about Casey Trees a few times from friends, social media, and other environmental events. I went to the Canopy Awards in 2014 and was really impressed by how well it was organized and attended. The evening was really fun and educational because I hadn’t really been exposed to the organization’s work prior to the event!

CT: And what made you sign up for Stand Up For Trees?

SS: After the Canopy Awards, I was curious for more details about how Casey Trees so successfully advocated for trees, which while incredibly important and beautiful, don’t generally elicit the same reaction as cute animals do. Several months later I received an email on an environmental listserv about Stand Up For Trees. Another friend on the listserv and I decided to attend together.

CT: How are you hoping to advocate for trees in your own neighborhood?

SS: I’ve lived in Petworth for the last year and a half, and for now, I hope to participate in more Casey Trees events. If the opportunity arises to advocate for or against a specific project in my neighborhood, and I’m informed about it, I would likely participate in the decision-making process, especially if there’s already a Casey Trees contingent involved. The great thing about Stand Up For Trees is that the information was largely relevant even outside of D.C., so as a temporary resident, I certainly plan to keep tree advocacy in mind as I move to other parts of the country.

CT: What are issues that concern you regarding D.C.’s trees?

SS: There is constantly new development happening in D.C., and I hope tree advocacy from Casey Trees supporters (and others) ensures that the development does not disturb D.C.’s existing canopy. Of course, in order to meet the 40 percent canopy cover goal, that is still not sufficient. I’m also concerned about the urban bird population, which depends on those trees.

CT: What was your biggest takeaway from the class?

SS: I was pleased to hear about the penalties D.C. issues for cutting down trees and the influence Casey Trees has already had on such policies. I learned that trees can still thrive within the urban environment if provided adequate protection. Ultimately, my takeaway was positive – D.C. canopy cover is generally on the rise and the seats at the workshop were full, suggesting great interest in continuing to improve the state of D.C.’s trees.