In this interview Torin Dunnavant, Tree Davis’ new Executive Director is interviewed by Tree Davis Board President Greg McPherson.
Greg: Torin, it’s great to have you at the helm of Tree Davis. You spent the last five years as Director of Education and Engagement with the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Prior to that you were Director of Engagement and Partnerships with TreePeople in Los Angeles. How will you be applying your experience with Tree Davis?
Torin: Thank you Greg, I am so excited to be a part of the Tree Davis team. It’s a fantastic organization and I am humbled to step into this role. I have been a part of the urban forestry world for fourteen years now – and a big part of my focus has been canopy equity. One of the greatest predictors of the health of a community is its urban forest - healthy trees means healthy people. Some neighborhoods have greater obstacles than others to plant trees, but that doesn’t mean that we should wait for the obstacles to remove themselves, it means the opposite - that we need to work harder to plant trees in places where there are less, so that more folks can be supported by the many benefits that trees bring. I look forward to connecting with the groups that partner with Tree Davis and learning from community leaders throughout the area to understand how Tree Davis can support them.
Davis is in the process of developing a new Urban Forest Management Plan and is hosting feedback sessions (the first virtual public meeting was on Nov. 10). Why and how should Davis residents get involved?
As much as the city and city staff is invested in doing right for the trees of Davis – everything that they can and will do is governed by elements like the urban forest master plan. This will be a thoroughly researched and much deliberated document that ultimately will be approved by city council. So, anything that is important for our urban forest’s future needs to be in that plan for the urban forestry staff to be able to act on it. It’s essential that the residents and stakeholders of Davis weigh in on the plan because many eyes and many brains will make the plan truer to the needs of the city.
If you had a magic wand that could turn Davis’ urban forest into the best urban forest in the world, what would you see after waving it?
There is so much love that the people of Davis have for our urban forest. However, ensuring that it continues to thrive means that everyone plays a role. People need to feel comfortable with planting and stewarding trees at their homes and in public spaces. So, my magic wand would be focused on ensuring that everyone understands that they are the key to growing our urban forest and that they have the knowledge on how to steward our trees.
Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
Looking forward, I know that we will bring many successes to our communities. Continued support and enthusiasm for our work is critical to making that happen. As folks are reflecting on what they are thankful for this year, I encourage them to think about the role that trees play in enriching their lives. I hope that everyone that we are connected to will consider making a financial contribution to our organization this giving season so that we can continue to enhance and expand the urban forest. I hope to meet many of you at the Tree Davis Legacy Celebration, 10-12am on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Tree Davis Memorial Grove. The public is invited to attend and can RSVP at https://tinyurl.com/LegacyTD.