CITY OF TREES which documents one community’s fight for equal access to good jobs and safe parks in our nation’s capital, have its midwest premiere as an official selection in the 24th annual St. Louis International Film Festival. City of Trees had its world premiere at the 13th annual American Conservation Film Festival on October 25 in Shepherdstown, WV.
Directed by Brandon Kramer, City of Trees documents a period in the lives of Charles, Michael, James and Steve when their lives intersect with stimulus resources designed to make change in DC.
City of Trees follows the lifecycle and aftermath of a $2.7 million stimulus grant awarded to DC-based nonprofit Washington Parks & People. With the grant, Parks & People launches the ‘Green Corps’ as an introduction in urban forestry to DC residents in communities hardest hit by the recession. For Charles, the paycheck offers him a chance to give his newborn daughter the life he never had and escape the cycle of violence that already impacted his younger brother. For Michael, the job training is a first step forward after a drug conviction permanently marred his employment record. For James, a Ward 8 native in his late 50s, the position offers a chance to prove that his experience and wisdom is an asset. For Steve, the president of Washington Parks & People, the grant offers the opportunity to elevate the impact of his organization’s work — and the challenge of finding the resources to continue the program after the short-term stimulus dollars run out.
A film about normal people fighting to provide for themselves, their families and environment, City of Trees offers a critical new perspective on the challenges of retraining our workforce and rebuilding the natural environments in our cities for the 21st century. What sounds like a simple goal — putting people back to work by planting trees in a blighted neighborhood — opens up a complex web of personal and community challenges. In the age of recession and rebuilding, City of Trees documents a story representative of the hopes and struggles of countless Americans impacted by the recession.