Eudora Russell had a decade-long dream of turning Martin Luther King Boulevard in Los Angeles into a fitting memorial. Instead of coaxing the city to spend millions to redesign and landscape the street, she chose a different way. With the help of TreePeople and some grant money, the King Boulevard Memorial Project was launched with the planting of 11 large Canary Island pines.
In accordance with TreePeople's philosophy, the plan didn't call for a select few people to pay, plant, and walk away. In order to succeed, the project had to have ``community ownership,'' says Andy Lipkis, founder of TreePeople.
Volunteers were moblilized and a plan devised. Schools, churches, individual households, and companies joined in. People worked with the Bureau of Street Maintenance, the traffic department, the department of transportation, and police and fire departments. Fund raising, training, site preparation, and equipment had to be worked out.
What materialized was the largest-ever single-day urban tree planting in TreePeople history. On Jan. 13, 1990 (the anniversary of King's birthday), more than 400 trees were planted along the seven miles of the boulevard. But even more important was the level community support: Thousands of people showed up, including Mayor Tom Bradley, to help plant.
``It was a miraculous day,'' Mr. Lipkis remembers. Many people in south central L.A. were facing a state of hopelessness,'' he explained in an interview. But ``to have their neighbors come together and share in something positive and for people all over L.A. to come out to be with them and assist them, created a sense of hope in the reigniting of their own dreams.''