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News > Context Spring 2022 > Design Profile: The Philly Tree Plan

Design Profile: The Philly Tree Plan

Hinge Collective
SCH Photography  
SCH Photography  

Hinge Collective is working in partnership with the City of Philadelphia to complete a 10-year strategic plan for the planting and care of Philly’s urban forest guided by the values of sustainability, community engagement, and environmental justice. LIDAR data showed a 6% decline in urban tree canopy cover from 2008 to 2018; an alarming downward trend for a city with only 20% canopy cover overall. The need for an urban forest strategic plan was borne out of a response to the canopy change data, but it became immediately clear that there was another aspect of the data that was even more troubling. The tree canopy aligned with wealthier neighborhoods and was conspicuously absent in places with higher rates of poverty.

Hinge Collective, a public interest design firm, led a team of community organizers, policy experts, urban forestry professionals, geospatial analysts, and visual communicators to address this challenge. The project team recognized that the way in which the plan was developed would be critically important to building public trust and support. Over 8000 residents participated in a multipronged approach that included an ambassador program, over 30 community meetings, an instagram photo challenge, virtual open house presentations, and a city-wide survey.

The outcome of this engagement is a deep understanding of how the work of urban forestry can support communities as well as new partners in implementing the plan recommendations. The plan includes recommendations for policy change that will reshape the landscape of Philadelphia city-wide, as well as regional strategies that focus on repairing the effects of systemic injustices of the past and present. Aspects of the plan will be implemented immediately while others will require sustained effort to reach the impact goals of reducing disparities in heat island effects, health risks, economic opportunity, and supporting ecological resilience.

Project: The Philly Tree Plan

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Client: Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Project Size: Citywide Planning

Project Team:

Hinge Collective (Lead)

Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation (Urban Policy Consultant)

Azavea (Geospatial Analysis)

SavATree (Urban Forestry Consultant)

Little Giant Creative (Communications and Graphic Design)

Rising Sons (Community Organizing)

Glen Environmental (Environmental Policy Consultant)

SCH Photography  

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