Capital Trees Board Katrina Van Orden

In the News

Meet a Board Member: Katrina Van Orden

Meet Katrina Van Orden, a RVA transplant who brings a fresh perspective to our Capital Trees Board of Trustees. By trade, Katrina is an architectural designer, but as a resident, they see the need for and value of accessible public green space. Read our interview with Katrina, to learn about how they see collaboration with community and other organizations as important pillars for Capital Trees moving forward.

Q. When and how did you learn about the work Capital Trees does throughout RVA?

A. I learned about Capital Trees through my work with Hanbury as an architectural designer. I had admired the Low Line project ever since moving to Richmond and it was great to connect the organization to the work!

Q. What inspired you to want to be on the Capital Trees Board?

A. I’m an avid gardener and love learning from the Richmond community. This seemed like the perfect way to merge my interests and to learn more from those around me.

Q. What skill set, knowledge, professional experience, or unique perspective do you bring to the Capital Trees Board?

A. I have only lived in Richmond for a year and a half so far, but I already have so much love for this city. I did not grow up in a town with much green public space, and experiencing what Richmond has to offer in terms of public outdoor spaces motivates me to enhance it and to cherish the culture and authenticity of the city. I have a fresh set of eyes, expertise as a designer, and most importantly a love of public spaces built with everyone in mind.

Q. In your own words, why do you think urban greenspaces are a vital resource?

A. Urban greenspaces, when done right, are accessible to everyone. There aren’t many places we can go beside our homes and cars, if we have them, where we can relax or spend time without spending money. Urban greenspaces are a beautiful way to create more places to just be.

Q. What Capital Trees contribution or project are you most proud of or excited about?

A. I am most excited about the Hotchkiss project. Incorporating forageable plants into the landscape is an incredible opportunity for nourishment and connectivity to the amazing gifts our native biodiversity provides.

Q. What should more people know about Capital Trees?

A. We love to build partnerships! Let’s get together and talk about how we can learn from each other so we can better serve the people of Richmond.

Q. What do you feel is Capital Trees biggest need?

A. I think we need to continue to build our network. There are so many passionate organizations doing great work. By further embracing the interconnectivity of the goals we’re all working towards, we can develop a strong web where we rely on each other’s experiences and wisdom. 

Q. What are you most looking forward to in the next year or over your Capital Trees Board Term?

A. Engaging with more people in Richmond to create tangible steps geared toward dismantling systemic and infrastructural oppression in Richmond through public green space.

Q. How do you foresee the organization transforming in the coming years?

A. I see this organization leaning into and connecting with communities. 

Q. What’s your favorite plant/plot/project of Capital Trees?

A. The Low Line! It is such a beautiful display of native plants and it is a testament to the value of passionate volunteers. I have so much love for it because of the passion and commitment it represents.

Q. What is your favorite public landscape/greenspace?

A. When I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, I fell in love with their main plaza, El Jardin. On sunny days, the dense treetops cast shade under which long park benches provided rest; and in the evening, musicians would set up at the central gazebo, drawing in people from the town. The plaza was so vital to the daily life of the community, it was almost always in use! I think seeing the incredible joy the plaza could give to its people was a big turning point in how I view public landscapes and what they can contribute.


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