Philip Silva is standing on a sidewalk in Queens, quite literally hugging a tree. It’s an enormous London planetree, more than five feet around, shading the sidewalk in front of a modest rowhouse that serves as both tutoring center and mosque.
Silva strains to pass the end of a tape measure to Yi-Wen Lin, a New York City Parks Department worker who is helping him out with a project called TreeKIT. It’s an ambitious effort to map every single tree in the city of New York (and every single empty tree bed, as well). The finished map would be an online resource for everyone who is working to help these trees survive and thrive in the concrete jungle.