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How to Solve 15 Billion Problems, One Tree At a Time

Written by Grant Stimmel    on April 5, 2018

“Mommy, what were forests like?”


That’s how many trees were cut down in the time it took you to read that sentence. And here’s another number:

15 billion.

The number of trees we lose every single year.

TreesCharlotteScared yet? You should be. The world has lost more than half of its trees since the beginning of human civilization.

And like just about every other environmental effect we’ve had on this world, the problem isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.

Are forests going to disappear in your lifetime? Probably not.

But in your grandkids’? It’s a real possibility.

So what do we do? How can you help? Well, if you ask TreesCharlotte, it starts one tree at a time.

What is TreesCharlotte?

In 2012, TreesCharlotte set out to save Charlotte’s thinning tree canopy and educate residents about the importance of keeping Charlotte shaded.

Six years, 12,000 volunteers, and 25,000 trees later, they’ve done a darn good job of it.

They give trees to Charlotte residents for free, and all they ask for in return is that you do everything you can to take care them.

Through monthly planting and tree distribution events, TreesCharlotte has revitalized tree canopies in dozens of Charlotte neighborhoods. Thanks to a strong partnership with the city, and a crucial network of volunteers, the nonprofit is well on its way to achieving its goal of planting 500,000 trees in Charlotte by 2050.

How can you help TreesCharlotte?

But they can’t do it alone. They need your time and money and help — spreading the word about the world’s disappearing trees.

TreesCharlotteChange doesn’t happen across continents or oceans or other great divides. It happens down the street. When neighbors look at one another and say, “We need to do something about this.”

There’s an old story about a man walking on a beach after a storm. He sees a girl throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean. One by one, she tosses them into the sea to save their lives.

The man takes note of the many starfish washed ashore, and rightly decides that one person can’t save them all.

“Little girl,” he says, “there are thousands of starfish, you can’t possibly make a difference.”

She smiles, looks at the man, then tosses another starfish in the sea.

“It made a difference to that one,” she says.

And that’s how TreesCharlotte makes their impact. One neighborhood, one person, one tree at a time. Planting 500,000 trees in Charlotte won’t be easy — it’ll be really, really hard.

But with our help, when future generations ask:

“Mommy, what were forests like?”

This will always be the response:

“They were wonderful, son, and they still are.”

Grant Stimmel is a freelance writer who shares stories about those who make Charlotte a better place to live.