Green Scheme spruces up Aberdeen Street

Volunteers plant trees in effort to beautify Ghetto, reputation

Students, alumni and community members plant trees on Aberdeen Street.
Students, alumni and community members plant trees on Aberdeen Street.

Aberdeen Street is looking a little greener—and not from shattered beer bottles.

A group of enthusiastic volunteers­­­­— consisting of student, staff, alumni and community members—woke up early on Sunday morning to help beautify their neighbourhood by planting five trees along the front yards of Aberdeen Street. The project began at 11 a.m. and lasted for two hours.

“We’re trying to set a precedent,” said project co-ordinator Dayna Lafferty, MA ’09. “We want to bridge the gap between the students and the community. We want to make sure that people know that students can be socially aware.” The project was organized by Green Scheme, a group created in the summer of 2006 with the dual mandate to encourage and bring awareness to environmental issues while helping to foster positive town-gown relations, said project co-ordinator Kelsey Jensen, ArtSci ’08.

Jensen said the project is meant to give students pride in their neighbourhood and counteract the bad reputation of Homecoming’s Aberdeen Street party.

“The whole point of this is to promote student civic responsibility and environmentalism as well as to bring some positive press for Homecoming.”

Aberdeen Street resident Iain Bourhill, MA ’08, is one of the people whose front yard received an environmental facelift on Sunday.

“I thought it was a great idea,” he said. “It sends the message that the students at Queen’s care about their community. It adds a balance to the weekend. A bit of partying mixed in with a bit of community service.”

The project was made in partnership with the Science ’44 Co-op, the Queen’s Alumni Association and the Kingston Branch of the Queen’s Alumni Association. The trees were provided by the city of Kingston.

The event’s most noticeable alumni presence was represented by the bright yellow jackets of Applied Science ’77. This venture hit close to home for these alumni, said Richard Brown, Sci ’77. In 1975, some students from that year engaged in a similar environmental initiative called Project Green.

“We all took a bus to Quebec to visit the tree farm of fellow alumni Lou Bruce. He donated the trees to us and we ended up planting them between Grant and Ontario Halls,” Brown said.

Some of the trees are still there but some have died, Brown said.

The President of Project Green in 1975 was David Gordon. He is now Dr. David Gordon, an Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s and Green Scheme’s staff advisor.

He said he’s pleased with the amount of support that the environmental initiative is gaining at Queen’s. “The students are the reason the University is pushing the sustainability issue. It’s because the students are complaining,” Gordon said. “Students worked with the city to do research in order to ensure that each tree was planted at locations where they can thrive.”

The project also researched tree species to find ones that could acclimatize well to Kingston weather conditions. They decided on the Ginkgo, Silk Lilac and Blue Beach varieties.

Kelvin Hon, president of the Queen’s Environmental Club, said there’s a need for the project.

“Look at Aberdeen and you can see that it’s pretty bare compared to other streets here in Kingston. We’re here to patch it up a little. We’re making Aberdeen a more lively space and through that, especially given the construction, anything to help is welcome.”

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