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Trees and Rebirth: Urban Community Forestry in Post-Katrina Resilience. What are the roles of the Urban Forest and Urban Citizen Foresters in the recovery of communities following disasters in cities?. Jean Fahr, Parkway Partners, NOLA & Keith G. Tidball, Cornell University.

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Trees and Rebirth: Urban Community Forestry in Post-Katrina Resilience

What are the roles of the Urban Forest and Urban Citizen Foresters in the recovery of communities following disasters in cities?

Jean Fahr, Parkway Partners, NOLA & Keith G. Tidball, Cornell University

community partner parkway partners
Community Partner-Parkway Partners
  • NUCFAC Video
  • Organizational background- Jean’s story
  • Description of the tree people, the tree scene and players (community of practice)
  • What has been the community’s experience in working with the research fellow? What have been the benefits, challenges, problems and/or opportunities of having a fellow in your community
research question
Research Question
  • How do trees shape resilience before and following disaster in cities?
  • In what ways does active engagement of people with trees through involvement in an Urban Forestry Community of Practice contribute to social-ecological system resilience to disasters in cities?

“I used the oaks to find my home...”

“...surviving trees gave

me hope that I would persist.”


What defines the community for my study is not a particular neighborhood or political boundary such as “the 9th Ward,” but rather a practice---i.e., the planting of and caring for trees.

This practice has emerged through the work of my community partner organizations and of a diverse group of volunteers who have taken the initiative to go into City Park, their own neighborhoods, and other sites throughout the city to prune damaged trees, plant street trees, document losses of important symbolic trees and forests, and provide trees and information for residents, all to actively participate in the rebirth of themselves, their neighborhoods, and their city after Katrina.

  • Parkway Partners, Hike for KaTREEna and Replant New Orleans discovered during “pre-dis” work.
  • Volunteer replanting and tree care efforts occurring in neighborhoods city-wide.
  • Volunteers not defined by a particular race, class, neighborhood, or other traditional category.
  • Volunteer community foresters in NOLA are dispersed geographically and are diverse in terms of ethnicity and other factors
participatory research of new orleans for new orleans
Participatory Research-Of New Orleans, for New Orleans
  • Project emerges from within this community of practice.
  •  Establishing and maintaining relationships of trust and reciprocity, and meaningful participation of community members crucial to success in post-Katrina environment
  • Flexibility to be in maximum participatory research mode when the community of practice is assembled, which is seasonal and determined by availability of trees and other resources.
participatory methods
Participatory Methods
  • Community of practice helping to identify study questions, carrying out surveys and interpreting the results of these efforts
  • Qualitative participatory research methods inform the sample population, survey implementation, and development of measures for quantitative surveys.
  • Elaborate, enhance, illustrate, and clarify the results from the quantitative aspects of the study.
thank you
Thank you

Parkway Partners/NOLA Tree Troopers

Hike for KaTREEna

Replant New Orleans

Community Forestry Research Fellows Program

Cornell New Orleans Planning Initiative

Dr. Marianne Krasny

communities of practice
Communities of Practice

A community of practice defines itself along three dimensions (Wenger 1998):

What it is about – its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members.

How it functions - mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity.

What capability it has produced – the shared repertoire of communal resources that members have developed over time. (see, also Wenger 1999: 73-84)

cop characteristics
COP Characteristics
  • (1) The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest, in my case urban community forestry to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people.
  • (2) The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. Members of a community of practice do not necessarily work or live together on a daily basis. The Impressionists, for instance, used to meet in cafes and studios to discuss the style of painting they were inventing together. These interactions were essential to making them a community of practice even though they often painted alone. In my case, the community foresters in Post-Katrina New Orleans as a community of practice are/is distributed throughout New Orleans, therefore my site is as well.
  • (3) The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of interest--people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction.