Community members plant a tree in honor of a loved one lost to gun violence. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Ceasefire 365.

A partnership has grown between Baltimore Tree Trust and Baltimore Ceasefire to plant trees in honor of loved ones lost to gun violence.

Four weekends a year, Baltimore Ceasefire 365 spreads the message “Nobody Kills Anybody” with the aim of stopping murders in Baltimore City. And year round, the anti-violence activism group seeks to reduce violence, affirm life and support families who have lost loved ones to violence.

The collaboration with Baltimore Tree Trust is part of paying tribute to those individuals’ memories.

“Baltimore Tree Trust’s overall goal is to increase the tree canopy in the city,” said Ezekiel Jackson, a neighborhood organizer with Baltimore Tree Trust. “One of the ways we aim to do this is by building meaningful partnerships with our community. We add to the work that the Ceasefire folks have done so well with. These types of symbolic gestures bring more light to the personal impact of gun violence, while providing a healing space for the families.”

The groups planted the first seven trees of their partnership at Druid Hill Park in June. But that was just the beginning of the collaborations between Baltimore Tree Trust and Baltimore Ceasefire.

“We have hopes to partner for another planting event during our upcoming fall season,” said Ryan Alston, communications and outreach manager for Baltimore Tree Trust.

Alston said Tree Trust and Ceasefire have worked together to create welcoming places for honoring loved ones.

“Understanding the sensitivity surrounding the organization’s cause and its members, we had several planning sessions with Ceasefire ambassadors to ensure that the event would be a safe space to memorialize friends and family members, and that the trees would be planted at a location that felt comfortable for gathering and visiting in the future,” Alston said.

Tree planting begins with a site assessment team, and outreach workers notify residents of the potential plantings.

By identifying key community leaders and stakeholders, Tree Trust is able to interact with residents, attend community meetings, organize volunteer events, aid student plantings, and facilitate other initiatives that educate and involve neighbors in all levels of the planting process.

After each tree is planted, the maintenance team tracks it to ensure its health and sustainability. Workers water, mulch, and prune the trees — and replace them if needed — during the 2 years after they are planted.

Residents who want a memorial tree planted can contact Ezekiel@baltimoretreetrust.org. Those who want to be involved with Ceasefire can visit baltimoreceasefire365.com.

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Latrice Hill

Latrice Hill is a Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate who loves all the great things this city has to offer. She worked with WMAR 2-News as an Assignment Desk Editor before she joined...