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The Saint Joseph River masterpiece

The concept: Build a group of 250 donors who will each contribute the cost of one native spring-flowering tree a year for five years. Plant care-free native spring-flowering trees in great numbers along the river in South Bend. Within a few years the flowering season for dogwoods and redbuds would become very extravagant. The river during those weeks would become a very desirable destination, among the most noteworthy sights to be seen in the region. Beauty leading to renewed community pride, new economic activity…


Native trees

  • Low needs for care
  • Longevity and high rate of survival

Spring flowering

  • Extravagance of display in spring
  • Simultaneous flowering before their leaves come out–a very fancy showing

Likely varieties

  • Dogwood
  • Redbud


  • A group of 250 donors
  • Commitment to sponsor one tree a year for five years
  • Planting costs covered by the city? By grants?

Research needed

  • Extra care needed the first year after planting? Extra watering?
  • Which particular native species are best? Which varieties of those species?
  • How to evaluate the best places to plant these varieties?

Likely or possible partners

  • City of South Bend
  • Neighboring towns along the river.
    • Do the other towns and the county handle their own projects or is it a regional project?
  • The county.
  • Botanical team.
  • Landscaping and planting team.
  • Fund-raising team.
  • Publicity team.
  • Donate-a-tree campaign can be shared by community groups–churches, youth groups, schools, seniors groups, etc.

Ways for people to feel a shared sense of pride and ownership in the project

  • Website of donors
  • Photo gallery contributed by community members
  • Annual photo or painting prize for showing off the spring flowering along the river
  • Other ways?

Strategy ideas

  • Start with one stretch of the river so the impact is visible very soon?
  • Plant somewhat larger trees from the start?

Brainstorming about other aspects of the project

  • Link to Bike the Bend or other community event?
  • Draw the concept out into neighborhoods with more trees or with front-yard displays of bulbs that flower at the same time?
  • The seed of a springtime festival of some kind?

This outline also appears in an online version that will reflect new ideas and updates, posted here. It will not display in Internet Explorer.

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