Arbor Day honors Rosa Parks
with life giving tree planted
where blacks ride bus at the front
DPW's Liz Lerma calls upon her Chicana Spanish
and Indian roots to invoke Rosa Parks
and San Franciscan ancestors through the rising
of Sage smoke. The invocation turned
to the North as symbolic of Ancestors,
to the West as symbolic of Women,
to the South as symbolic of Children,
and to the East as symbolic of Men.
By Pat Murphy
March 15, 2006
Cool gray San Francisco greened itself beyond promise over the
last year with newly planted trees and celebrated Tuesday by honoring
civil rights legend Rosa Parks with a very special tree in a very
A plaque honors Parks as early pillar of the civil rights movement
by her refusal to surrender a bus seat meant only for caucasians,
adjoining the oxygen producing Cork tree planted yesterday on
one of San Francisco's busiest bus arteries.
Both the San Francisco mayor and the president of the local NAACP
San Francisco explained significance at 12:30 p.m. kickoff of
Arbor Day Activities.
Arbor Day marks worldwide observance which encourages tree planting
NAACP president Dr. Amos Brown drew symbolism of avian life as
example for human conduct.
"Birds will come and rest on this tree," Brown said
of the tree rooted at Van Ness Avenue and Jackson Street.
Amos Brown at the podium
"No black bird would tell a jay bird, 'You can't rest on
this tree.' No sparrow would tell a pigeon, 'You can't rest on
"And I think the message must be for all of us that San
Francisco must be a City where everybody will have a landing and
a lighting place, where all of God's children will be affirmed
and accepted in this city - whether you're gay or straight, black
or brown, yellow, red, or white, we will all be significant in
God's sight and in this City."
San Francisco status as a world city cannot be fully established
without improved streetscaping, Mayor Gavin Newsom stated.
"I've been fortunate to travel... around the world to see
what other cities are doing in cleaning their city streets and
Mayor Gavin Newsom, DPW Deputy Director Mohammed Nuru,
Rec and Park Director Yomi Agunbiade,
Director of San Francisco Department of the Environment Jared
Director of DPW Fred Abadi and City Administrator Ed Lee.
He noted that Saturday marks City first year effort to plant
5,000 trees, now exceeded by 266. Newsom projected that by Saturday
the figure will rise to 5,583.
"We can do a lot more," continued Newsom.
"Particularly around our median strips, our entrances and
exits to San Francisco, all of those hardscapes - the concrete
islands et cetera -- by softening those edges, by greening those
Newsom cited a University of Illinois study of Chicago's sixteen
year street greening as yielding unanticipated benefits.
Results showed "not just the civic pride that is the intangible
benefit of cleaning and greening the city but the economic advancement
to be made," Newsom reported.
"The increase of property values. The decrease of crime
associated with greening. You never would have imagined that could
be the case but it's been demonstrated over and over again,"
said Newsom. Pedestrian fatalities also declined, he said.
"The benefits are significant. They are not just esthetic."
Newsom said choosing Cork as the tree to launch Arbor Day activities
is emblematic of his personal maxim to embrace mistakes for improved
"It's symbolic of my struggles and frustrations. The Cork
tree is an amazing tree because it sheds and you're able to use
it over and over again," stated the mayor.
A rare Camperdown Elm will be planted in Larsen Park on Saturday,
the official day of San Francisco Arbor Day observance. Arbor
Day is celebrated on different dates throughout the country.
Only two other Camperdown Elms have been planted in San Francisco.
Both were planted in Golden Gate Park in the early 1900s by City
Park Superintendent John McLaren.
McLaren is credited with early greening of barren sand dunes
on the west side of San Francisco
Last year on Arbor Day 160 trees were planted in the Bayview
Mayor Gavin Newsom and Rec and Park Director Yomi Agunbiade
plant saplings in the Bayview, 3/12/5.
This year the public will participate in Larsen Park tree planting
with live entertainment, arts and crafts for children, exhibits,
and informational tables on urban forestry.
The City has increased its fleet of watering trucks to care for
expanded San Francisco greenscaping.
For volunteer information and schedule of Arbor Day Activities,