Abstract

This project completed Phase 1, formative research, of the three phase Behavior Change process laid out in the FY12-13 RFP: establish a baseline (number of people currently engaged in the target behavior), and audience segmentation and audience assessment. The grant deliverables shown in our proposal are expected at the end of the full process, all 7 behavior change steps, consequently, we did not meet them. As part of this phase, the City’s consultant, Salter Mitchell (SM), conducted two focus groups and then completed a targeted survey by phone. Once the project was substantially completed, we rolled out the previously approved and funded tree rebate program with articles in the local newspapers, website and city newsletter. The rebate program continues this fiscal year and will dovetail with this project.

Behavior

Behaviors: Tree planting

Behavior Pattern: One-time

Why was this behavior selected?

On July 9, 2012, Bowie City Council approved a resolution adopting a 45% city-wide tree canopy goal. To meet this goal, an aggressive private tree planting program will be needed. The City’s Urban Greening Strategy indicates that single-family residential lots provide the best opportunity to increase City-wide urban tree canopy (UTC) and that focusing solely on public lands will be insufficient to meet that goal. There simply is not enough public land available to plant enough trees to meet the goal. Trees provide a myriad of benefits to the City and its residents, yet anecdotal evidence shows that a number of residents do not want trees on their properties or even in the adjacent right-of-way (ROW) for a variety of reasons that are discussed in the next section. In a recent survey of public support for urban forestry, Zhang and Zheng (2011)1 concluded that “Managers and planners should take more action to help public access to urban tree programs and encourage the public to participate in urban tree activities.” In order to understand how accepting Bowie residents, in general, are of trees and how we can address any concerns, we need an efficient and effective approach for gathering research --community-based social marketing (CBSM).

The City’s Urban Greening Strategy asserts that “attitudes and practices toward privately owned trees have considerable implications, not only for maintaining the City’s overall existing UTC, but enabling improvements for higher coverage. Challenges in this area include tree loss and lack of replacement in the BGE utility ROW, land management practices by property owners, and attitudes regarding the value/desirability of trees (AES, 2011).” To reach the goal of this larger project, the two major Phase I objectives are conducting a survey of the targeted residents to identify interest in, barriers to and likelihood of changing attitudes towards tree plantings and conducting a community-based social marketing campaign that targets areas adjacent to the City’s Green Infrastructure (GI) network to establish a baseline of current tree planting rates among single-family homeowners.

Target Audiences

Audiences: Detached single family homeowners/renters

Primary Audience: Detached single family homeowners/renters

Secondary Audience: N/A

Demographics: Asia/pacificislander, Black or african american, Hispanic or latino, Native american or indian, White

Ages: 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+

Description of Target Audience

Bowie is a very diverse city, with only 39% of its population identifying as “white alone, not Hispanic or Latino” in the 2010 census. Consequently, SM was asked to ensure that the focus groups included a range of residents across multiple races to best represent the city. SM set parameters for target group participant screening, and recruited 12 African-American and 6 Caucasian participants. Again, because we are in the first phase of this multi-year project, we have not yet reached full volunteer engagement. This would come later in the process as we roll out the test campaign and full program.

With a population of 54,727, the City of Bowie is Maryland’s fifth largest city and covers about 18.8 square miles of land in northeastern Prince George’s County. This project will reach across the City’s 20,687 households; the audience segmentation is not expected to target a specific minority group. According to the 2010 Census, 58.4% of the city’s population is non-white (48.7% is Black or African American, 4.1% is Asian, and 5.6% is Latino), while 44.1% is white.

Research

How did you research your audiences: Intercept surveys

Barriers

Most participants did not recognize a need, or, in many cases, an opportunity, for more trees in their yards or neighborhoods. People seem to only be shopping for a tree when redoing the yard landscaping or after recently removing an old tree.

o As an additional observation, our team drove through the Saddlebrook and

Meadowbrook neighborhoods prior to conducting the groups. Saddlebrook is

listed as a low canopy area on the canopy coverage map, while Meadowbrook is a medium canopy area. Both neighborhoods appeared to be well?appointed with trees. In the case of Saddlebrook, the lack of canopy coverage appeared to be owed to the type and age of the trees – more decorative and less mature – rather than a lack of trees in the area. In the case of Meadowbrook, the lack of canopy coverage was few and far between, isolated mostly to sporadic lots and trimming from utility services.

Strategy

Outreach Tactics: Public commitment statements, Social diffusion

What media/communication channels did you use? Direct mail, E-mail, Events, Face to face, Newspaper, Online or other digital media, Organization methods (through constituents of influential community organizations), Publications, Small group or public meetings, Social media, Telephone contacts, Television

Products and services

The core product is a more beautiful yard with privacy and shade.We expect to work with our local nursery (and approach the big box stores) for tagging natives. Perhaps door hangers for priority neighborhoods.This has yet to be determined, though we’re currently working with a local nursery, the Bowie-Crofton Garden Club, the City’s environmental committees, and the Bowie Gardens for Wildlife group on a variety of initiatives. We will collaborate with these groups as much as possible. We also have relationships with many community groups such as the Bowie Lions Club, Boy & Girl Scouts, and the Chamber of Commerce and hope to find out a way to incorporate them into this environmental outreach effort.

Cost or Trade Off

Well, based on the two examples given above, there would be no payment required. We can but don’t know what they would be. We are using signs in a couple of target neighborhoods with low canopy to advertise the tree rebate program. Yard signs have been used for other City programs and would be a good addition to this. We would also acknowledge people who plant trees in our quarterly e-newsletter and on our Green Bowie webpage. Not directed at individual residents, no, though we could consider directing them (nonmonetary disincentives) at neighborhoods with low canopy, which is addressed a bit with our current neighborhood tree rebate signs.

Place

The rebate program is good at only one local nursery, as this is the only one that accepts the State’s Marylanders Plant Trees coupon, and we wanted to help residents achieve the maximum savings possible. We prefer fall and spring plantings, in that order. They wouldn’t acquire the tangible objects noted in 7.1.3, but acquiring the actual produce, trees, is fairly straightforward. The nursery we will use is open in the evenings and on weekends and is centrally located in the city with easy access from US Rt 301. We have had initial thoughts about trying to do a mass delivery/planting by a contractor directed at specific, low tree canopy neighborhoods but would have to do a lot more work/research on that possibility. We will continue our work with the local nursery that participates with the Marylanders Plant Trees rebate program and will continue negotiating with them to reduce costs to residents for installation.

Primary Messages

Trees provide beauty, shade and privacy, which are the three most important benefits, as found during the formative research phase. We would also like residents to understand that trees provide water quality benefits, though this was not a priority to the focus group participants.

Lessons

How did you measure impact? N/A

Advice Or Suggestions

The biggest struggle in this part of the process was figuring out what to do with the results that we received from the phone survey and focus groups. To the untrained eye, it appeared that we were at a dead end, but when consulted, our Trust Project Officer who has a great deal of knowledge and experience with social marketing/behavior change work saw a lot of potential for moving forward. While Salter Mitchell had some thoughts on how to move forward, it wouldn’t necessarily take us down the path prescribed in the FY12-13 RFP. The advice would be to find and/or use someone with experience in all phases of the process – not just in the data gathering process.