Jenni Stolarski shyly admits that she's a bit of a science geek. Although her career is in real estate, she's always been fascinated by statistics, studies and research and how it applies to everyday life.
And that's how Stolarski became a one-woman tree-planting crusade.
Well, sort of.
"Jenni’s passion is to make the community a better place," said Robb Puckett, a fellow Realtor and Oak Cliff resident. "Oak Cliff is known for its trees, and with her background in landscaping, Jenni saw the need to plan for the replacement of a great asset. She wants to make sure the next several generations of Oak Cliffer’s can enjoy the beauty we relish today."
As Stolarski explained it, because of drought, storms, and other natural disasters, many of the very trees that lend Oak Cliff its arboreal name have died and weren't replaced. So the Kings Highway Conservation District, which was once a shady boulevard lined with trees, has become increasingly bare.
"The issue is that not all of our Texas trees are all that long lived," Stolarski said. So she wants to plant 4,000 trees in a four-year period. "If we do something today, we're guaranteeing that our neighborhood will have the same look and feel in the future."
If it seems like a lot of trees to plant, that's because it is. Stolarski hopes that her big plans for the oaks, elms and maples of her neighborhood will have an even bigger impact on its quality of life.
According to research from the Texas Trees Foundation, neighborhoods dense with trees had lower heating and cooling costs, better air quality, higher property values and less overall crime. Not only that, but the benefit that results from planting trees is three times greater than the cost.
If only most investments could promise that kind of return.
So far Stolarski, with the help of Lisa Benskin and Pat Melton of Kings Highway Conservation District, has raised enough to plant 150 trees on Dec. 1. Stolarski said there is a critical need for around 100 volunteers to dig, plant, mulch, and water. It's a small investment of time that is immensely satisfying, she said.
"You come in for six hours and you make real changes in the neighborhood," Stolarski said. "You can, very literally, put down roots."
Interested in volunteering or contributing? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.