Hattie Carthan, “the Tree Lady of Brooklyn,” Scotland’s SHORE Seaweed, Open Space Institute

by | Feb 21, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Hattie Carthan, “the Tree Lady of Brooklyn,” plus Scotland’s SHORE Seaweed, and the Open Space Institute!



Hattie Carthan was the Tree Lady of Brooklyn.  She was an environmental and community advocate who lived and organized in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. Her work focused primarily on planting and protecting trees, which she saw as a means for addressing issues of local economic development and neighborhood livability. 

Carthan was born in September 1900 in Portsmouth, Virginia, moving to Brooklyn, New York, in 1928. In 1954, Carthan moved to the tree-lined block of Vernon Avenue between Tompkins Ave and Throop Ave in Bed-Stuy. By 1964, only three trees remained due to the deterioration of the neighborhood at that time. So she sent postcards to everyone on her block and formed the T & T Vernon Avenue Block Association, raising funds to buy and plant trees by throwing block parties.  Eventually, the City Parks Department provided trees under its tree matching program.

In 1966, Carthan also founded the Bedford-Stuyvesant Beautification Committee.  During her time as chairman, the Beautification Committee was awarded a grant in 1971 to teach youth about tree care and provide a stipend for summer work, known as the Neighborhood Tree Corps.  She oversaw over 100 block associations which planted over 1,500 trees including those of the ginkgo, sycamore, and honeylocust varieties.

In 1975, Carthan was awarded a distinguished service medal from the city for her work improving public parks and was elected to the governing committee of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Carthan died in 1984 at 83 years old. Why does Hattie Carthan and her legacy matter to us? Twofold reasons—first, she had an indomitable fighting spirit and a serial, social entrepreneurial quality. Carthan founded numerous environmental and community organizations that brought together issues of neighborhood beautification, urban ecology, and community empowerment. And second, she started when she was in her fifties! So Gen. X—let’s go!  

DEEPER DIVE: Hattie Carthan, NYC Parks Dept., Hattie Carthan Community Garden


SCOTLAND’S SHORE SEAWEED                       

Since 2016 SHORE Seaweed, based in Wick, in the far North East of Scotland, has been growing, harvesting and processing premium Scottish seaweed. Its mission is to bring to market products that are 100% sustainable, good for the coastal environment and beneficial for its local rural communities. Wick is one of UK’s most remote communities. According to SHORE’s website, its local waters are clean and cool, with strong tides that provide the vital nutrients for our seaweed to feast on.

They claim to be working to make seaweed a sustainable plant-based food of the future, one that is naturally nutritious, tasty and above all, kind on the planet. It is important to them that SHORE is a source of good for its coastal environment and also beneficial to its local communities of which they are an integral part.

How do they do it? Basically, SHORE has a dedicated harvesters who expertly handpick seaweed all year round. According to its website, these harvesters have a unique set of skills and resilience in all weathers which allows them to select and hand harvest the best seaweed our shores have to offer. And if the photos on the website are any testament, these harvesters are truly resilient. That looks cold and brutal!

Why seaweed? Seaweed contains a unique source of key macro and micronutrients, antioxidants, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron and iodine. Why does SHORE seaweed matter to us? First seaweed. Second, in an era of good, well-paying climate change jobs, SHORE seaweed is committed to being a source of good for both its coastal environment and also beneficial to our local communities that it’s a part of.




The mission of the Open Space Institute is to protect land for people and for wildlife, forever. OSI was founded in 1974. Since then, according to its website, it’s grown to become a national conservation leader, partnering in the protection of more than 2.3 million acres across the Eastern US and Canada. OSI protects land for clean drinking water, public recreation, healthy communities, wildlife habitat, and climate protection. It’s a well-established fact that the forests and floodplains it helps keep intact protect carbon capture and protect against extreme weather events.

In addition to strategic conservation, OSI is also committed to making protected land more welcoming to the public; making the outdoors more accessible for all, including securing full and permanent funding for the federal Land and Water Conservation FundIn 2003, OSI launched its Conservation Capital program to accelerate the rate and effectiveness of land protection. Through its loans and grants, the program has distributed nearly $123 million to partner land trusts to protect more than 2,069,081 acres valued at $700 million, and support land research and planning.

The Open Space Institute also offers financial and legal oversight for projects started by concerned citizens whose programs and activities are aligned with its mission, through its Conservation Communities program. This oversight makes the projects eligible to solicit and receive grants and tax-deductible contributions that are normally available only to 501(c)(3) organizations. 

Why does OSI matter to us? According to its 2021 Annual Report, the organization raised $19.4 million dollars to combat climate change, added 25,000 acres to public parks and forests and acquired almost 19,000 acres in seven states for permanent conservation.

DEEPER DIVE: OSI, 2021 Annual Report