The Therapeutic Power of Trees
Last Friday, a collaboration between Casey Trees and the DC Department of Corrections (DOC) culminated in the planting of 11 new trees within the DOC grounds. Spearheaded by a team of dedicated individuals, this project not only commemorates a fallen DOC employee but also aims to foster a stronger connection between nature and the residents and staff within the facility.
Jaqueline Williams, DOC’s Department Director of Education, Programs, and Case Management, has been instrumental in similar community-focused projects, including two tree planting initiatives in Southeast DC. “During those projects, I met Brenda Richardson [Casey Trees Board Member], and she connected me with Casey Trees. The conversation started by asking how we could bring raised farm beds to the residents as a therapeutic project. While we’re still working with partners to make that happen, the discussion evolved into improving the outside grounds as well,” Williams shared.
Leading the initiative as the project’s arborist was Liam Ulasevich, whose expertise and passion for greenery helped make the successful execution of this joint effort possible. “This is one of my favorite projects of the year and one that I’m particularly keen on – because there’s a tree, actually within the facility that we’re planting. And I think that’s really big, the impact of connecting people who are so far removed and disconnected from nature to nature. We all know greenery can help improve a certain mindset and hopefully, this tree will help residents feel more connected to nature.” Ulasevich shared.
Michelle Wilson, the Department Director of Administration at the DOC, stressed the significance of green spaces in fostering a sense of community and solace. “Trees help transform spaces into communities and neighborhoods,” Wilson stated. “Shade, comfort… all those things are necessities in the harshness of where we are and what we’re doing. The shade of a tree, the comfort of a tree, or the beauty of a tree, gives you a level of peace that wasn’t there before.”
Highlighting the multifaceted significance of this project, Wilson emphasized its role in creating a serene space for the staff to decompress and reconnect with nature, effectively aligning with the DOC’s mission of fostering pride, passion, and professionalism within its community.
As the trees continue to grow, the DOC is interested in bringing about further improvements, reinforcing the DOC’s commitment to creating a harmonious and nurturing environment for its residents and staff alike.
This joint effort stands as a testament to the transformative power of nature and community collaboration in fostering positive change within correctional facilities and their surrounding communities. As the project continues to unfold, it serves as a beacon of hope for the DOC and the communities it serves, illustrating the profound impact of greenery in fostering resilience and unity. Scroll down to enjoy some snapshots of the day!