We’re excited to share our interview with Ashley Wallace, who is currently a Board Member at Capital Trees, but has long been a part of our organization (even before it was a fully fledged non-profit!) Read our interview with her below to see the inspiration that sparked the concept of Capital Trees, her favorite project to date, and why she thinks what you can’t see at our projects is just as important as what you can.
Q. How long have you been involved with Capital Trees?
A. The initial inspiration for Capital Trees came from my garden club after we refurbished the triangle at Three Chopt and Cary Streets in collaboration with the city. I was president of my club in the early years of Capital Trees and was able to join a group that visited Casey Trees to learn more about their efforts to improve the tree canopy in Washington, DC. So from the beginning, my eyes were opened to the possibilities of what could be accomplished through public-private partnership and the importance of an organization like Capital Trees to improve green spaces in the city.
Q. What is your position with Capital Trees?
A. I am currently a Board Member and serve on the Advancement Committee and Projects Committee.
Q. Why did you take on that position?
A. Richmond is a beautiful city thanks to an abundance of natural resources, and I enjoy many outdoor activities because of it. Ensuring that our green spaces are maintained and accessible is important to me.
Q. How have you seen the organization evolve? What have you been most surprised by?
A. Capital Trees was founded by individuals with a tremendous amount of knowledge and passion. It’s no surprise that they quickly became an organization that the city and other groups looked to for advice and follow through. That cache remains an important part of Capital Trees as we grow from a board-led non-profit to one led by a professional staff with a strategic plan for the future.
Q. What Capital Trees contribution or project are you most proud of?
A. I have to put the Low Line at the top of the list. It is our most visible and transformative project to date. What makes it most special to me is the connection to trails it provides along the river and the beautiful makeover of what was unsightly and unusable space to the benefit of Shockoe Bottom and the East End neighborhoods. Just to walk the path is a lesson in horticulture, sustainability, and garden design.
Q. Is there a common misconception about the work Capital Trees does? What should more people know about Capital Trees?
A. It’s not only what you can see but what you can’t see that makes our projects beneficial. We are setting the bar for best practices in public landscapes in our efforts to mitigate stormwater runoff, plant native species, and implement sustainable maintenance practices.
Q. What is Capital Trees biggest need?
A. Community engagement – in the form of ongoing conversations with individuals from all neighborhoods, volunteer participation, and of course funding!
Q. What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
A. The implementation of our new strategic plan and working on projects in areas of the city where we have not yet made an impact.
Q. What’s your favorite plant/plot/project of Capital Trees?
A. The river birch trees along the Low Line. They are a great size shade tree and their bark is so cool how it peels.