Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Trees For Town" Jars and Cans Brighten Provincetown

For something over twenty years now, outspoken resident and tree advocate Barbara Rushmore has been planting trees all over town by collecting coins in containers like this one, in front of Spiritus Pizza, and then buying and planting young trees with the money raised.
In several spots around town people can drop their spare change into a big old milk can on the street, or into jars found on the counters of a number of local merchants.
Barbara then makes her rounds, collecting the coins at each location, rolls the coins to take them to the bank, orders the young trees, and co-ordinates the efforts of volunteers and Department of Public Works staff to get these trees planted in spots all around Provincetown.
If you've ever admired the cherry trees on Harry Kemp Way, near the parking meters there, or the Pin Oaks at the Chamber of Commerce, or the Elm where Bradford and Commercial Streets meet, you've seen the fruits of Barbara's labors. A tree Barbara planted many years ago near the mailbox at the East End Marketplace, as it is now known, has since grown to a height of over two stories, and the total of trees planted is now approaching a hundred.
In fact, I first met Barbara about 22 years ago when I reported to the Municipal Parking Lot at the head of MacMillan Pier in response to a blurb in The Advocate, the town's newspaper at the time. Volunteers had been requested to help plant trees in the southeast corner of the parking lot. This was long before the little mini-park along the sea wall between the two piers came about, so there weren't many trees nearby. These were the days when Barbara would drive her old red Ford Escort hatchback around town to the various spots where she had planted trees on public land, watering every one with buckets of water she dipped out of a huge barrel in the back of her car, stopping here and there to replenish the barrel, using garden hoses of folks who had offered water for the project. In fact, she ruined the springs on her car carrying all that water around the town for so many years.
Now, the DPW has taken over the job of watering all the trees planted on public property, while homeowners look after those planted in their front yards over the years. Barbara will plant trees in yards of residents here, or in other privately owned space, as long as the tree will shade a public way, like a street or a sidewalk, or even a parking lot. When a very old tree at Bradford and Court Streets met its demise after suffering through a number of heavy storms, the neighborhood mourned the loss of this tree, and Barbara arranged to help to get another tree planted in that yard, where the new tree once again cools the heat of the summer by shading a public way. Trees also help convert carbon dioxide from vehicle emissions, as well as other air polluters, into oxygen, so Barbara's efforts over the years help all of us to breathe easier.
So when you pass one of these various coin jars or cans, throw in a handful of change, and of course, paper money is welcome as well. It will be put to good use. These jars raise a total every year of about a thousand dollars, and over the last twenty years or so, the town has enjoyed a tremendous benefit from the planting of so many trees we would not have if it hadn't been for Barbara's labor of love. And we thank the many volunteers and DPW workers who have helped to plant nearly a hundred trees over the years.
You'll find these various types of containers in many spots provided by a number of merchants all over town, like the big coin box in front of Bubala's, the milk can near Blondie's, and the counter-top jars at Shalom and other T shirt shops, the Himalayian shop, Seamen's Bank and others. Drop your change and contributions into these containers and feel good about helping to improve the look, the ambience and the air quality of Provincetown through planting trees. And, of course, volunteers are always welcome.

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