Dan Turben serves on the Oakwood Inclusion Coalition leadership team. A resident of Oakwood for the last 35 years, Dan also serves the community through his work with Oakwood Rotary, the Oakwood Historical Society, and House of Bread. On April 30, Dan and several other Oakwood residents participated in a RETREET tree planting event for community restoration in the wake of the 2019 tornadoes.
How did you hear about the RETREET event and why did you decide to sign up?
I heard about the event from another member of the OIC leadership team. There are sixteen of us on the leadership team now, and between us, we have a lot of connections with other community groups. We knew this would be a good opportunity for people from Oakwood to connect with other area residents interested in making the Dayton region a desirable place to live. The Oakwood Inclusion Coalition aims to benefit the Oakwood community, certainly, but part of promoting an inclusive and welcoming Oakwood is connecting with groups in other neighborhoods. We want to help more people outside Oakwood see that Oakwood residents are involved in good work throughout the region and that we’re interested in connecting with others who share our commitment to building a better community for all. We want to support each other’s work and share ideas to demonstrate our concern for the whole region. So my team and I went to Trotwood and North Dayton to learn how to plant trees along with people from all over the county.
What does planting trees have to do with community building and inclusion?
I often hear people say that they choose to live in Oakwood because it’s such a beautiful city, and I think a good deal of its beauty comes from the many large trees that we have here. Mature trees make a neighborhood look well established and well cared for, which helps the housing stock keep its value. The shade that trees cast also keeps homes cooler in the summer and minimizes air conditioning use. Trees have social benefits, too: a friend in the geography department at Sinclair told me that denser tree coverage is linked to closer social ties within a neighborhood, greater life satisfaction among residents, and lower crime rates.
Here in Oakwood we are now enjoying trees that were planted decades ago by the people who lived here before us. We were fortunate enough to be outside the tornado area this time, but some of our neighbors to the northwest lost their trees. Replanting large shade trees is a way to help those neighborhoods preserve their desirable appearance, which will help them keep their property values up over time.
What have you learned from this experience?
Now that I know how important trees are to a neighborhood, I’ve been noticing how different the landscape looks in different parts of the Dayton area. There are plenty of neighborhoods around here that weren’t hit by tornadoes that still don’t have as many trees as Oakwood has. Driving around in the summertime, you can see that the wealthier areas look shady and cool but when you leave those neighborhoods the trees get sparser and smaller. And this is not just in Dayton but in cities all over the country. Most large trees within city limits are in communities where wealthier residents or a wealthier city can afford to put the trees in and keep them properly trimmed as they grow. So I hope we can keep working to plant and maintain large native trees in the Dayton area to help our neighbors enjoy the same kind of beauty, housing value, and cooling shade that we have here in Oakwood. RETREET will be hosting another planting event in this area in late October; you can go to http://www.retreet.org/ for the details.