Sometimes the best way to learn about the history of something is to ‘set down’ in the most Southern of traditions and listen to the people who saw—and made— history happen first-hand.
In our case, we’re fortunate enough to be able to ‘set down’ and listen to people who formed our history, the three founders of the Savannah Tree Foundation— Lynda Beam, Page Hungerpiller, and Suzie Williams – during their StoryCorps oral history interview in Savannah captured in the winter of 2009. The Savannah Tree Foundation as you know it today started as a small group which became known as the ‘Monday Morning Mothers of the Earth,’ named after the day & time by which they liked to meet.
Get a taste of the interview here. Want more? Contact us.StoryCorps-Interview-0-5-Minutes.mp3
Thirty four years ago…
…removal of the Candler Oak was imminent.
Today the Candler Oak is protected by a conservation easement with stewardship provided by the Savannah Tree Foundation.
…Savannah had an aging urban forest where more trees were cut down than replaced.
Today the City of Savannah’s Park & Tree Department plants one third more trees than it removes each year.
…there were no tree protection ordinances for new development.
Today most local governments in Chatham County have established tree protection ordinances.
…urban sprawl was threatening Chatham County’s rural areas, signaling great loss of forested lands.
Today some forested and natural areas have now been protected—yet so much more remains to be done.
…Daffin Park’s mall was used as a parking lot, compacting the critical root zone on the then 75-year-old live oak trees.
Today Daffin Park’s mall is no longer available for parking, the 100-year-old oaks are prospering, and young trees have been planted.
…plans to widen White Bluff Road called for the removal of many live oaks from Georgia’s oldest historic road.
Today White Bluff Road now has a median that preserved many of the old trees and allowed planting sites for new canopy trees.
…Mother Matilda Beasley Park site was contaminated and was owned by an investment group, which planned to develop it for commercial purposes.
Today Mother Matilda Beasley Park has been landscaped according to a master plan developed by Chatham County, Beach Historic Neighborhood Association
and the Savannah Tree Foundation.
…the future of Bacon Park Forest was uncertain, and 17 years ago was in danger of being developed into sports fields.
Today, Bacon Park Forest is designated as a natural area for passive recreational use.