Celebrate Arbor Day, Tacoma’s urban forest April 2

Celebrate Arbor Day in Tacoma by learning how to “Speak for the Trees” at the Urban Forest Project Tacoma kickoff event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., April 2, at Tollefson Plaza in downtown Tacoma. Get your tree questions answered by local arborists, compose a poem about your love of lush vegetation, help create a chalk jungle and discover what is being done to grow Tacoma’s urban forest. Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark will present Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland with Tacoma’s 2011 Tree City USA award from the state Department of Natural Resources during a 2 p.m. ceremony. Also speaking will be Tacoma City Councilmember Ryan Mello and Metro Parks Tacoma Commissioner Krystal Kyer. Tacoma’s poet laureate, Tammy Robacker, will read a poem written for the event.

This event also celebrates the Urban Forest Project Tacoma — a community collaboration will feature nearly 100 tree-themed banners by local artists, designers and students to raise awareness of the importance of trees in the city while celebrating the city’s vibrant creative community. The banners will create a forest of thoughtful images amid the concrete and asphalt of Tacoma’s urban landscape. The banners will hang along Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma through April and May 2011 as part of Tacoma’s Arbor Day celebration. The banners will then be repurposed into one-of-a-kind messenger bags. Proceeds from the sale of the bags will go toward planting and maintaining trees in Tacoma. For more information on the Urban Forest Project Tacoma, go to ufp-tacoma.com.

A variety of tree-themed banners designed by artists John Vlahovich (top), Connie Ng (right), and Liisa Pangborn (left) have been installed along Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. (PHOTOS COURTESY CITY OF TACOMA)