Charlestown Residents Take to the Streets to Look for Good Tree Homes

Don’t be alarmed if you see residents out in the streets of Charlestown measuring sidewalks and sizing up empty planting sites.

They’re newly minted VolunTREErs, part of the non-profit Speak for the Trees’ efforts to measure and inventory empty planting sites in Charlestown where new trees can go. On Saturday, January 25, about a dozen Charlestown residents gathered at the Boys & Girls Club to learn how to measure and collect data on tree wells. Using the app OpenTreeMap, these residents gather information on sidewalk width, planting site size, and surrounding infrastructure such as overhead wires. These data are then uploaded to a publicly accessible map,

“For the past 18 months we’ve been working with community groups and youth across the city to train residents how to collect data on street trees and empty planting sites,” said David Meshoulam, executive director and co-founder of Speak for the Trees. “During this time we’ve collected invaluable information on over 5,500 trees and 1,500 empty planting sites. We’ve seen enthusiasm from our volunteer network in connecting to each other, their neighborhood, and their trees.”

The information, publicly available at, serves as a tool to engage residents, assist the city in better understanding its urban forest, and focus the organization’s work on where new trees are most needed. In the winter time, while trees are bare, the group is focusing on inventorying empty planting sites only. Once the leaves emerge, the group will be holding another session to train volunTREErs how to inventory trees, including through tree identification and tree size. The goal is to have all of Charlestown’s street trees mapped by the end of the summer, 2020.

Read more about Speak for the Trees at,,, or reach out to David at [email protected].

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