Trees for All People


Studio led by Paula Meijerink and Ethan McGory, department of Landscape Architecture at The Ohio State University

This studio examines racial inequality in urban tree canopy and quality of life in midwestern cities.  It looks at the legal and historical roots of these inequities and proposes new legislation to create more just and sustainable cities.

Students examined correlations in urban tree canopy, race, income, education and health in five major cities in the Midwest: Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee.   They found that the livability, ecological function, and comfort of neighborhoods throughout these cities are strongly correlated to the race, income and education of their residents. People of color are more likely to live in areas with fewer trees, lower life expectancy, and more health problems than white neighborhoods.  Students found that these differences were caused by legislation, redlining, highway construction and other intentional governmental acts.  In the following projects, student illustrate these findings through maps, graphics, charts and tables and tell the unique story of injustice in each of these cities.

This studio looked at legislation as a creative act that can combat these injustices and forward ideals of the Green New Deal: increasing canopy cover, creating jobs, and fostering more equitable and sustainable communities.  The students’ legislative solutions are varied, based on the specific problems, opportunities, and unique character of each city.  The nature of these solutions ranges from new development codes, to neighborhood tree steward programs, tax incentives, urban tree nurseries and more.  We hope that the work of this studio will help create cities that are more just and sustainable, and encourage more landscape architects to take a role in the development of legislation.