By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Cayley Crum, a senior at Sacred Heart Academy, said she understands Pope Francis’ teaching that care for creation is connected to care for the needy.
She saw an opportunity to bridge the two in ReTree Shively, a project she co-founded with her mother, Colleen Crum, in the spring of 2013. The effort has brought 200 new trees to Shively Park, Leeds Park and, most recently, to a stretch of Dixie Highway.
“Having a cooler environment on a hot day is a simple thing,” said the 18-year-old, but it’s one of the ways she believes her efforts will help the community. “Having a place that’s not corrupted by garbage, where people can just be and have a connection to nature is important.”
The project has also given Cayley Crum an opportunity to reflect further on Pope
Francis’ teachings on care for creation. His encyclical on the subject, “Laudato Si’ ” was released in 2015, while she was in the midst of her project.
“It was wonderful hearing a big leader talk about,” caring for creation, she said.
Cayley Crum noted that her Catholic faith helped her appreciate the importance of service from an early age. She also became aware, early on, of the problems pollution causes and the need to care for the environment.
“It should be like second nature. You should just recycle,” she said.
Erin Thompson, an urban forester who works in the Division of Community Forestry in Metro Louisville’s Office of Sustainability, said she met Cayley about three years ago and “was blown away” by her initiative.
“I was inspired by someone so young that related to trees and understood the benefits of trees,” said Thompson, whose office has donated $2,000 to the ReTree Shively effort.
Thompson’s office is responsible for helping to “increase the tree canopy” in Louisville. But, she noted, it can’t be done alone. Partnerships with families like the Crums and organizations like ReTree Shively are critical to the effort’s success, she said.
Planting trees, noted Thompson, helps control air pollution and lowers the urban heat index.
“My hope is that the city of Shively will let this spread,” said Thompson, noting that her office will keep supporting the ReTree Shively effort for as long as it continues.
“Why just plant one tree?” she said she asked.
She didn’t complete the Girl Scout project. Instead, she and her mother partnered with the Shively City Council in early 2013 to get the project off the ground.
So far, more than 200 trees have been planted. Cayley and Colleen Crum have raised more than $24,000 for the project. Besides fundraising, they also help choose the trees and the planting sites. Colleen Crum said City of Shively employees plant and maintain the trees.
Three generations of Colleen Crum’s family call Shively home. Though she and her daughter no longer live in that area, the duo said it was important for them to help enhance the area.
They planted one of the first trees in memory of Colleen Crum’s late uncle. Colleen Crum also wanted simply to make the parks of her childhood look inviting again. No trees had been planted in them for 20 years, she said.