Below is a short essay written by Dr. Ken Baker, retired Professor of Ecology from Heidelberg University and a member of the Tiffin Shade Tree Commission in regards why citizens should value of a town's trees.
Hope is a Tree
Ken Baker, September 19, 2023
You don’t plant a red oak sapling if you’re a confirmed pessimist and you’re sure the world’s
going to hell in a handbasket. If you look at that silver maple in front of the house and all you see
is leaves to rake in the fall, roots to heave up the sidewalk, and bird droppings to wipe off the
windshield…I mean, what’s the point?
Hope is a tree. Hope for our children and their grandkids. Hope for our neighbors’ families, and
hope for our town. You don’t plant a skinny little stick in the ground for yourself. Most of the
trees you see around town wouldn’t even be considered middle-aged at 100 years. You plant a
tree because…it matters.
We know that tree-lined streets not only improve property values, but also have measurable
effects on residents’ physical and emotional health. They markedly enhance the appeal of a
downtown shopping experience and have even been shown to reduce crime rates compared to
And those annoying piles of leaves? I’ve got this scraggly sugar maple on the tree lawn (the
space between the road and sidewalk), and I’m not looking forward to the calluses on my hands
from the rake. Or maybe I am. Maybe the idea of doing something for the neighborhood, without
being asked and without being paid to do so, is somehow appealing.
Over the next several months, I’ll share some observations on how the city and its volunteer-
staffed Tree Commission care for our “urban forest,” and a few surprising facts about how trees