By Cheryle Franceschi
I’m a Marylander concerned with the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. I produced, directed, and wrote the documentary “Forest Her: The Next Wave of Conservation.”
On-site interviews took place in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Maryland, along with places within Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Personal stories are authentically amplified with scientific examples of forest conservation.
While the script was coming together, I discovered that Pennsylvania is where the framework of urban forestry started.
Currently, viewers can watch the film streaming on the PBS platform on station WIFT in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – https://video.witf.org/video/forest-her-the-next-wave-of-conservation-tfhub6/
Celebrating the City Beautiful Movement during International Women’s Day 2023
Sometimes the forested trail can lead you on a path of discovery you didn’t envision. And that was the case for me regarding the urban forestry movement.
Before the pre-production phase of the documentary, I was not familiar with Mira Lloyd Dock.
Her City Beautiful Movement cultivated reforestation and the impact healthy ecosystems have on human health. She advocated change by using her experiences as a university-trained botanist, conservationist, lecturer, women’s club activist, and the first woman to serve on the State Forestry Reservation Commission of Pennsylvania. In addition to being a founding member of the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy which is now the Penn State Mont Alto Campus.
She did not allow gender inequality to prohibit her from engaging in what we know now as urban forestry.
She lobbied for better sewage treatments (urban sanitation) to provide clean drinking water and worked to create open spaces (playground areas) for children to connect more with the out-of-doors; nature.
Often times she was the only woman in the room working with local municipalities before she even had the Constitutional right to vote. A leader who spoke on a regional lecture circuit and worked on tree plantings and maintenance. Throughout her career, her footsteps were in unison with foresters. She focused her conservation lens on ways of promoting sustainability to help with the revitalization of underserved areas.
In 1945, Mira Lloyd Dock died. Today, her legacy of healing and beautifying forested areas is thriving. One example is The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Mira Lloyd Dock Partnership Diversity Award which recognizes women working with forest conservation in their communities.
Female leaders are growing the Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) one community at a time and bringing in the next wave of conservation.
Cheryle Franceschi is a conservation filmmaker who has written, directed, and produced three Por Eco Productions, One Idea/Dos Languages’ documentaries. The films stream on PBS.org.