I work remotely for the US Forest Service. That means I work from home. Home for me is San Antonio, TX. I live in an inner-city apartment near downtown, in a low-income neighborhood with no trees. In the summer, temperatures often reach above 100 degrees. And access to cool areas with shade trees and water are virtually nonexistent. The irony that I work for the US Forest Service, nowhere near a tree, is not lost on me.
I thrive in nature. So why am I in San Antonio? Well, my family and culture are here. And you can't beat $575 for a one bedroom apartment. But my heart still longs for nature. And with the extreme heat, and Delta variant making travel harder, I find myself indoors more than I’d like. And it has taken a toll on my body and mental health. But I’m never the type of person to feel stuck in my circumstances. There is always something I can do to make my situation better. So, I’ve been going to the climbing gym indoors, I’ve been reading more, and I’ve been cuddling my kitten. It doesn’t fix the issue of not having trees or access to nature, but it provides temporary relief to my longing for the outdoors
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the broader issue with the lack of trees and parks in inner city San Antonio. It is clearly an Environmental Justice Issue. Historic zoning laws and city planning paved over nature, and left low-income and Hispanic neighborhoods with little to no trees and parks. The city planned trees and parks are primarily in higher income neighborhoods. And health experts have proven that access to nature and trees improves health outcomes in almost every aspect of a person's life. The funny thing is, it actually isn’t that hard to fix this problem. San Antonio needs more trees, so PLANT MORE TREES. Maybe then my grandchildren can enjoy walking outdoors on a street with trees.
Agency: U.S Forest Service
Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)
Location: USFS Headquarters, Washington Office