5 March 2023
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A tree outside every house

Kennington Avenue in Bristol used to be able to boast a tree outside every house. Sadly, over the years, one by one, the trees have disappeared. This is the story of how Amy and her neighbours are turning the tide, one tree at a time.

a street Becomes a community

As bad as the pandemic was, it brought Amy’s local community much closer together. She knew a few of her neighbours before, but those difficult days acted as a strong unifier. The neighbours created a street-wide WhatsApp group to check-in on each other. Now with the pandemic is behind them, they’ve put that group to new uses.

Former glory

Amy has lived on her Bristol street for five years, but it was a photo from over a hundred years ago that helped propel her into action. The photo shows their street in its full glory, with magnificent trees outside every property. Today, there are only a handful remaining.

Kennington Avenue over 100 years ago.
The street today.

It all really got started when a tree needed to be felled outside Amy’s house. She’d heard that it was possible to sponsor the planting of new streets through a scheme run by Bristol City Council – so decided to take the plunge. She made her donation and a tree was planted that winter.

Sadly, due to rot and a vehicular collision, three more old trees were cut down in quick succession. Amy knew more needed to be done, but rather than cursing the darkness, she decided to light a match.

neighbours united

With about 120 houses on the street, Amy realised that they would only need a few pounds from each resident “…and that’s a tree!” If people chipped in more, they would be able to transform their street entirely.

“It was so easy, we just sent a message via Whatsapp saying, ‘We’re planting trees, does anyone want to contribute?’ And everyone chipped in straight away.”

It wasn’t long before 5 trees were funded. Amy requested this years’ new tree via the Trees for Street website, which is now hosting the scheme for Bristol City Council. All Amy had to do was select the location in the online map, and upload the donation payment.

Having realised how simple the process was, as well as witnessing people’s readiness to help, the neighbours are laying plans to plant more. They are opting to replace the tree species that once lined their street like-for-like.

A Shared responsibility

The neighbours realised that by reaching out to one another, they could not only transform their street into a greener, more vibrant space, but that through collective projects they could strengthen their bonds even further.

“Our community is really friendly, really helpful, and really nice!”

New connections with nature

Sponsoring a tree has been a great way to connect their children with nature. It’s shown them that they can make a positive difference to the world immediately outside their front door. The children plan to get involved watering the tree over the summer months.

Beyond the Neighbourhood

As well as re-greening their own street, the neighbours have been considering planting trees further afield in less affluent parts of Bristol. The Trees for Streets scheme in Bristol offers locations all across the city that can be sponsored.

Sponsorship and crowdfunding

Amy organised the collection of donations directly herself, but for larger community street tree fundraising initiatives Trees for Streets has built its own crowdfunding service.

If like Amy, you’d like to green up your own street, why not consider sponsoring the planting of a new tree maybe outside your house or where there’s a gap. You never know what neighbourly connections it might help create.

Trees for Streets runs the National Street Tree Sponsorship Scheme, you can find out if your local council is taking part, just search here.