Abstract

The Get Rooted in Cumberland Program (North End Tree Planting Project) utilizes Doug McKenzie-Moar's model for Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) to determine the perceived tree planting benefits and barriers for residential communities in Cumberland, as well as how to increase tree planting behavior. The North End neighborhood was the focus of this project because it has a high potential for tree planting upon residential property and is an important area to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, as there are four nearby points of combined sewer overflow into Will's Creek. The demographics of North End are fairly representative of the City of Cumberland, so we can assume data collected there could be used to help guide the design of city-wide residential tree planting program.

Behavior

Behaviors: Tree planting

Behavior Pattern: One-time

Target Audiences

Audiences: Detached single family homeowners/renters

Primary Audience: Detached single family homeowners/renters

Secondary Audience: N/A

Demographics: Black or african american, Hispanic or latino, Other, White

Ages: N/A

Description of Target Audience

According to 2010 census data, the City of Cumberland is 89.4% Caucasian, 6.4% African American, and 1.2% Latino and 3% other races. These rations are reflected in the North End neighborhood. No one group was focused on in particular for this project. All individuals in the neighborhood were given the opportunity to participate and there was a diversity of participants. Residents were engaged in the planning of the events and their feedback was used to shape the program at all stages of development.

Watershed stewardship is a new concept to Western Maryland. Our environment is so abundant in forests that the local population sometimes takes it for granted. This project will assist the City in communicating the wide variety of benefits that trees provide to the community members, including reducing stormwater runoff. The project is planned to take place within the Wills Creek watershed which is within the Upper Potomac Lower North Branch watershed. The project being at a neighborhood scale should allow City staff to provide specific information about local watershed health to community members while the focus will be communicating with individual property owners one-on-one to address the identified tree planting barriers.

We utilized local knowledge and a creative message to interject watershed concepts into the discussions that take place during tree plannings and planting. A key aspect to this is the one-on-one time with the neighborhood based leaders. The leaders will be armed with information on tree canopy benefits including rainfall interception and water quality protection that trees provide in relation to the Wills Creek watershed. Consistent communication with the leaders over the duration of the project and in the future planting seasons will provide us with a new channel through which to conduct outreach related to other City projects that are aimed at addressing stormwater or local TMDLs.

As part of the big picture of increasing the urban tree canopy, a lot of tree planting has taken place on public property including within vegetated right-of-ways and schoolyards. This project will compliment the public planting projects and may include the opportunity to further promote public area plantings since Cumberland's right-of-way or street tree planting program requires the support of property owners adjacent to the planting area.

Research

How did you research your audiences: A combination of in-person interviews or focus groups and then broader surveys

Barriers

By a large margin, the biggest barrier experienced by those who had not planted a tree in the past five years was listed as "it's not a priority". This is after those respondents who listed "I rent" or "I don't have enough space" were removed, as these are not barriers that can feasibly be affected. While "not a priority" is a very vague barrier, specific reasons were ascertained by talking with the focus group members about what hurdles they face in tree planting and in general projects on their property. Physical ability is a large hurdle for many people; they often do not have the help they need to complete laborious tasks. This barrier can be minimized by having trees planted by professionals from local nurseries. When asked in profession help in tree planting is appealing, the focus group participants unanimously answered yes. Cost is certainly anoher barrier, especially when it comes to having trees planted professionally. The focus roup responsed positively to the DNR Native SPecies Coupon, most saying they would use it towards the purcahse of a tree. Another barrier that was discussed at some length was the perceived disconnnected betwen available information and the public.

Benefits

According to the community survey, the top three perceived benefits of trees in the City of Cumberland are: aesthetis, shade, and improved air quality.. because of the disproportionately large number of survey respondents with graduate degrees, the results were broken down into two categories, those with less formal education (high school, some college, Associates degree) and those with more formal education (Bachelors or Masters degrees). When the data is divided in this way, the same three benefits come out on top for both groups, but a larger number of less educated individuals cite "enhanced recreationa reas" and "lower energy costs" as perceived beenfits than do the more educated. During unobstructive observation of the target neighborhood, we have noticed lots of yards that are without trees, but have children's play equipment, dog toys, or chairs sitting right out in the sun.

Gaining insight into your target audience

A survey was developed and dispersed in July of 2012 to collect data on tree planting behaviors in our region. The survey got 309 responded and showed that the greatest perceived benefits of tree plantings in Cumberland area aesthetic and shade. The largest barrier is simply that planting trees is "not a priority". Other potentially useful data was pulled from the survey results, including participants' understanding of the term "native species" and the pathos associated with trees. For example, 85% of survey participants said that they were familiar with the term "native species," but when asked whether particular tree species (red maple, tree of heaven, pin oak, etc) were native or not, the vast majority of those who recognized the term said that they did not know. This a potential area for further education and engagement with the community.

It was necessary to tease out what exactly "not a priority" means to the population, since it is such a vague description of a barrier. To achieve this, eight survey participants were selected to engage in a focus group. These were individuals who indicated on the survey that they are homeowners and do not typically plant trees, even though they have room to. This is the project "target audience". Food and beverages at the focus group were provided by the Allegany county Forestry Board and each participant was given a $50 Visa gift card as incentive.

From the focus group participants, it was determined that people generally like the appearance of trees and understand their benefits. They all responded more positively to images of streets and properties with many trees rather than few trees. They described positive life experiences associated with trees, often from their childhood. When asked why they don't plant trees themselves, some said they found it to be too expensive. Several others were not physically able to dig a hole and plant a tree. Cumberland has an aging population, so this factor is very important. Another participant mentioned being overwhelmed with technical jargon when she goes to the nursery. Mess and potential danger from falling limbs were touched upon, but were certainly not among the biggest reasons why these individuals were not planting trees. From this information we concluded that finances and physical ability were the main abrriers for our population.

Strategy

Outreach Tactics: Social diffusion

What media/communication channels did you use? Direct mail, E-mail, Face to face, Small group or public meetings

Products and services

With the help of the three locally-owned nurseries, a coupon program was designed to allow North End residents to receive a reasonably sized (5'-6') native tree and have it planted by the nursery. This is a total value of about $240. The cost to the homeowner was $30. DNR's Marylanders plant trees coupons were also used in conjunction with our coupons to help subsidize the cost. The total amount paid per tree by the Get Rooted in Cumberland program was $185. A volunteer graphic designer helped developed a logo for the program that would appear on the coupons as well as garden flags that were given to each participating homeowner. This is an attempt to create a recognizable, consistent image that will give a visual indication of which households participated in the program and hopefully spur more participation from their neighbors. At this point, the goal was to get the coupon publicized. Instead of using traditional methods for advertising like newspapers, radios, etc, neighborhood leaders were identified to help spread the word. One North End resident who is actively involved with other natural conservation efforts volunteered immediately and hot her neighbor, Janie to donate time as well. These two were very positive and excited about the program.

With the help of George, Mary, and Janie activities were developed for the block party (now named Will's Mountain Neighborhood Picnic) that included: a scavenger hunt, kite plying, and DNR's Scales n' Tales program. The block party was held on Saturday, April 26th. The turnout was ok. A few families with kids showed up and participated in activities, which was great. The best turnout was for the Scales n' Tales program. Unfortunately, there was not much interest in the coupon program from this group of people. A few took information and one women signed up for a site visit, but mostly it was families coming out for the kids' activities. In an attempt to make the event seem family friendly we may have given the impression that the picnic was intended to be geared towards kids.

Moving forward, other methods for dispersing information were evaluated. The initial intention was to avoid traditional methods for advertising (radio, newspaper) because of the possibility of backlash from other neighborhoods that were not eligible for tree coupons. This would also allow coordinators to determine if/how information would disseminate among neighbors. Neighborhood leaders used the coupons themselves, provided feedback from their own experience,and then start spreading the word about the program. Janie got one person to plant a tree and the neighbor across the street from Mary planed one. That neighbor told his friend on the other side of North End about the program. That family planted two trees. There may have been a few more instances of successful referrals, but unfortunately that momentum fizzled out pretty quickly. Despite lots of effort on the part of the neighborhood leaders, they just were not able to drum up a lot of interest. I the end, the intern and project leader spent a lot of time walking the neighborhood and talking people who happened to be outside. That approach was a little more successful, and several times someone who would refer to a neighbor who they remembered mentioning wanting a tree or who they knew liked trees. In that way, neighborly communication was helpful. In total, 24 tree coupons were used in North End between APril 1st and July 31st. For the time and effort put in to getting the coupons printed and distributed, this result was not adequate.

Primary Messages

Increase the urban tree canopy upon private property by creating a social diffusion tree planting utilizing the neighborhood involvement and a native tree planting demonstration site.

City staff familiar with the community and tree planting practices followed through with identifying a location and behavior for the project to target. The location includes North End Cumberland neighborhoods. This audience segment was chosen due to location and moderate level of owner occupied homes. The location is important because stormwater runoff from this area contributes to combined sewer overflows into Wills Creek. The behavior identified is to plant a native tree upon privately owned (residential) property while taking advantage of Marylanders Plant Trees coupon program.

Lessons

How did you measure impact? N/A

Total People Reached

While it is difficult to determine exactly how many participants in the Get Rooted program would not otherwise have planted trees, there were a few instances where we can be certain behavior change did occur. One of our focus group participants who was classified as a person who did not plant trees based on his survey responses, took part in the free tree program. he also influences his neighbor to receive a tree. So not only did his behavior change, but he encouraged behavior change in those around him. WE can also assume that behavior change occurred with anyone who received a free tree but could not have afforded to purchase a tree on their own or with the tree coupon. As mentioned above, several properties adjacent to participant's properties were found to have newly planted trees. After the fall planting, many neighborhood residents expressed interest in getting a tree in the future. The trees were relatively large (10 feet in some cases) and some people were expecting them to be saplings. Even greater interest is expected for future plantings because of this positive response.

Outreach is estimated to have occurred to about 250-300 people at the various events (Heritage Day, Block Parties, Discover Allegany Outdoors, etc). Informational articles to Times-News readers outreach to over 23,000 people. The average number of Facebook views for posts the Shade Tree Commission is 60-70.

What worked?

The greatest success were identifying community members interested in this type of project so that the momentum started with the Get Rooted program can continue.Neighborhood leaders Mary, Janie and George will continue to be great resources. Cumberland's current Mayor, Brian Grimm, was consistently supportive and helped wherever he was able to. Other community members who played various roles in the success of the Get Rooted project will undoubtedly be crucial in helping with future projects. The creation of a logo image that can be used by Cumberland's Shade Tree Commission is another positive outcome that will continue to benefit the city. The image can be a consistent reminder to City residents of the benefits of urban canopy.

What were the most significant limiting factors to greater success?

The greatest success were identifying community members interested in this type of project so that the momentum started with the Get Rooted program can continue.Neighborhood leaders Mary, Janie and George will continue to be great resources. Cumberland's current Mayor, Brian Grimm, was consistently supportive and helped wherever he was able to. Other community members who played various roles in the success of the Get Rooted project will undoubtedly be crucial in helping with future projects. The creation of a logo image that can be used by Cumberland's Shade Tree Commission is another positive outcome that will continue to benefit the city. The image can be a consistent reminder to City residents of the benefits of urban canopy.

Advice Or Suggestions

  • Make sure to include enough money in the budget for things like logo design and marketing
  • Unless there is a precedent for strong communication in your neighborhood (neighborhood coalitions that meet regularly and are open to your project) be prepared to promote your project in more broad ways (radio, newspaper, tv if possible) Banners in the neighborhood worked great for us.
  • Be prepared to walk people through the process and DO a lot of the heavy lifting. As mentioned before, getting people to the nursery to order their tree was a huge challenge for us.
  • Organization and lots of planning were key to a successful volunteer event!