Summer 2018 Newsletter

Celebrating Arbor Day

On a rainy day at the end of April, students at Tracey Elementary School joined their teachers, parents, civic leaders and members of Norwalk's tree community to celebrate Arbor Day. Each year since 2004, the Norwalk Tree Alliance and the City's Norwalk Tree Advisory Committee selects an elementary school and sponsors the event with the partnership of DoubleTree by Hilton of Norwalk. Activities included songs and poetry by the students and the awarding of prizes for the tree-themed poster contest. 

Mayor Harry Rilling, a Tracey alumnus, spoke about the importance of Arbor Day and of trees to Norwalk and community life. 

Andrew Strauss, NTA President, in a keynote, challenged the students: "Trees are our natural partners in helping us protect our planet. They can help us save the world," he said. "What can you do to save the world?" He suggested each student could start by planting and caring for a white spruce seedling, given to all students to take home.

As a fitting conclusion to the festive and educational celebration, students helped to plant a London Plane tree in the front of their school building.

A living memorial to Hal Alvord

On a stormy evening late in June, members of the Norwalk Tree Alliance, together with the Alvord family, friends and former colleagues of Hal Alvord congregated in the front of Fodor Farm to honor his legacy and dedicate a tree memorial park in his memory.  Just as participants began to share memories of Hal, the storm stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. The improvement in weather, many said, reflected the impact Hal had on their own lives. 

Paul Sotnik and Rich Whitehead each spoke movingly of Hal's contributions to the community and to them personally. Other colleagues, serving with him in Norwalk, or previously in the U.S. Army, in which Hal had a long, distinguished career, attested to his passion, integrity and his loyalty. "It was always unspoken that he held you to a higher standard," said Hal's son, Patrick Alvord. "He didn't say it - you felt it, and it elevated your game."

The Alvord family and friends gather at the tree memorial monument.
Photos credit: Alex von Kleydorff, The Norwalk Hour

The Norwalk Tree Alliance is proud to have sponsored the tree memorial park as a sustaining tribute to Hal, who led the organization in the last year of his life, and served Norwalk for 12 years as Director of the city's Public Works and as Tree Warden. Many private donors and Norwalk's Departments of Public Works and Recreation & Parks supported the project.

The Hal Alvord Tree Memorial park, designed by landscape architect and NTA board member, Allan Broadbent, consists of two northern red oaks planted to frame The Farmhouse from the street, along with hydrangeas, boxwoods and vinca in the front of the building. The rose-colored granite monument, streaked with gray, has been placed at the entrance of The Farmhouse. It reads:  "Hal Alvord Tree Memorial, 2018", followed by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The creation of a thousand  forests is in one acorn."
NTA holds its Annual Open House  at its new home

Following dedication of the Hal Alvord Tree Memorial, about 50 participants moved under threatening skies from the front of Fodor Farm to the comfort of the Barn, behind The Farmhouse, where the Norwalk Tree Alliance hosted its Annual Open House. The location was particularly fitting, as the organization had moved its offices to Fodor Farm at the beginning of June.

Inside the Barn, visitors and friends were welcomed by members of the Alliance with displays of Tree Alliance projects, along with Susan Simmon's extraordinary bonsai trees.  An installation of tree-themed paintings by local artists in the lobby of The Farmhouse was a perfect addition, thanks to Pat Hegnauer of the G&C Cultural Center in Wilton. 

Delicious, hot and cold finger-food was served with bottled "tree" water, lemonade and other drinks. Deb Burnaman was especially active in stimulating new membership sign-ups, with brisk sales of tree-motif necklaces and two literary classics:  "The Hidden Life of Trees" and Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax."

The Open House was a good opportunity for friends, supporters, tree advocates and neighbors to meet the Alvord family and friends, some of whom came from all sections of the country for the Hal Alvord Tree Memorial dedication.

Mindy Alvord models her new tree-motif necklace.

Church and State partner for West Norwalk tree canopy

Norwalk's Tree Advisory Committee initiated a unique cooperative program that will enhance the tree canopy in West Norwalk for years to come. Gay McLeod, Committee Vice-Chair, identified the opportunity to plant trees along a deforested  stretch on Richards Avenue, bordering on St. John's Cemetery. When the Committee ascertained the best location was not along the public roadway, but within the walls of the cemetery, an idea was born: a partnership of the City of Norwalk with the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.

Each Committee member had a role in bringing the idea to fruition. Mary-Pat Cottrell, community activist, secured agreements with the Diocese. Peter Viteretto, landscape architect, developed the site plan. Committee Chair and arborist, Rich Whitehead, selected the tree species and provided supervision. Paul Sotnik, Public Works senior civil engineer, coordinated the program.

On a sun-filled day in May, Tree Advisory Committee members, city and state officials, representatives of the Diocese of Bridgeport, including Bishop Frank Caggiano, dedicated the initial installation of 16 trees planted at St. John's Cemetery. 

The two-year program is planned for a continuous line of 30 oak, maple and tulip trees within the walled border of the Cemetery and Richards Avenue. The City will provide and plant the trees, the St. John's ground crew will dig the holes, water and maintain the trees.  This unique partnership will benefit visitors to the cemetery, the church and the city in its quest to enhance Norwalk's tree canopy.

Tree Advisory Committee members. Gay McLeod, sitting. 
Left to right, standing: Peter Viteretto, Mary-Pat Cottrell, Rich Whitehead.

Tree Farm as an outdoor classroom

The Norwalk Tree Alliance has decided to revitalize Tree Farm at Fodor Farm, to further its mission for outreach, with special focus on inspiring and educating Norwalk's youth. The concept is Tree Farm as a living, outdoor classroom not only to grow trees from seedlings, but to nurture elementary school kids by teaching the importance of trees and the fundamentals of arboriculture.

A sub-committee will explore the opportunity with members of the administration, teaching staff and parents of Columbus Magnet School of Norwalk. They will seek to define a curriculum and the objectives of a multi-year pilot program. The Norwalk Tree Alliance already has a close relationship with the school as sponsor of the Rosa Parks Arboretum, bordering on the school's grounds. As well, Columbus Magnet has established several innovative, activity-based curricula, notably its outdoor Habitat program and the Young Astronaut program.

NTA board member Andy Britell, Director of Columbus-Magnet's Habitat program, will lead the exploratory sub-committee, to include board members Rich Whitehead and Rob Hutchinson, both professional arborists.

Andy Britell conducts an outdoor teaching class with students from Columbus Magnet School.

"As the twig is bent, the tree inclines."

_ Virgil

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