When you read these two stories, making excuses for high rates of black crime in Chicago and Cleveland (and the paucity of crime in white communities in the same city), you'll see why. [A Very Detailed, Interactive Map of Chicago’s Tree Canopy: It reveals some startling patterns, AtlasObscura.com, 8/14/17]:
Tree Initiative and Morton Arboretum released what they say is the most comprehensive tree canopy data set of any region in the U.S., covering 284 municipalities in the Chicago area. Now, that data is helping neighborhoods improve their environments and assist their communities.
“When we go to talk to communities,” says Lydia Scott, director of the CRTI, “We say ‘trees reduce crime.’ And then they go, ‘Explain to me how that could possibly be, because that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard.’”
In Chicago, where more than 2,000 people have been shot this year, scientists are looking at physical features of neighborhoods for solutions. “We started to look at where we have heavy crime, and whether there was a correlation with tree canopy, and often, there is,” says Scott. “Communities that have higher tree population have lower crime. Areas where trees are prevalent, people tend to be outside, mingling, enjoying their community.”
But the trees do have immediate benefits in other respects. Blacks in Green is a Chicago-based economic development organization that aims to create self-sustaining black communities through green initiatives. “We’re using the green economy to galvanize, organize, energize,” says founder Naomi Davis. Davis has met with Scott and CRTI multiple times over the last few years in order to plan BiG’s approach. “When you’re starting something, you should take stock of what you got,” Davis says. “We realized we were going to need to start with a tree inventory. Now we’re finally getting that inventory.”That's Chicago.
How about Cleveland? [Kids of King Kennedy are trapped by a brick ceiling: Mark Naymik, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8-13-17]:
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Kids growing up in King Kennedy, a public housing complex in the city's Central neighborhood, are surrounded by hard surfaces.Inside, cinderblock apartment walls provide space for their posters and pictures but offer little light. Outside, asphalt lots and squat and towering brick buildings fill their landscape.
The kids don't seem to mind. For instance, on scooters and bikes, they make the most of King Kennedy's "cheese hill," a decades-old park with an odd collection of poured concrete blocks, steps and pyramids that once featured large decorative holes reminiscent of Swiss cheese. The holes have been filled, but the park's nickname survives.
While the kids have adapted to the hard surfaces of their physical environment, they are trapped by a psychological barrier -- one they don't even know exists but is potentially more harmful than any fall on concrete.
It's the brick ceiling that blocks their view of life outside the projects and the opportunities and possibilities available to them.