August 22, 2017 Colleen Bursaw

What happened to all the trees!?

Emerald Ash Borer is set to wipe out thousands of trees in the Twin Cities. Studies have shown that cities like Minneapolis have already lost 50% of the tree canopy compared to 50 years ago. Add the 2011 tornado that destroyed a wide swath of North Minneapolis and we are in the midst of an urban forest epidemic.


What are we doing about it?

A group of business owners calling themselves the Autonomous Collective, is jumping in to do something about it. Consisting of 10 local small landscape, arborist and remodeling firms, each in the business of building and improving houses and landscapes, the group is spearheading a direct approach – LET’S PLANT MORE TREES.


NoMi Before and After photo of tree coverage in Minneapolis due to 2012 Tornado and Emerald Ash Borer disease

NoMi Before and After photo of tree coverage in Minneapolis due to 2011 Tornado and Emerald Ash Borer disease


The Autonomous Collective reached out to Tree Trust in the spring and the two groups are working together on a project called Trees for NoMi. With cash donations from the companies as well as clients and friends, the Autonomous Collective has collected over $20,000 and will plant over 125 trees in private homeowner yards in North Minneapolis on October 6th.   Hanes Brands Inc. has even donated brightly colored t-shirts for volunteers to wear, to keep them safe and identifiable. Tree Trust is running the logistics including soliciting planting locations and running workshops to make sure each tree gets in the right place and is cared for afterwards.



Autonomous Collective founders, Jason Rathe from Field Landscape and Jim Walsh from Vineland Tree Care, say they just wanted to do something simple and effective. Jim says, “We were talking over a beer about how somebody should really do something to make sure that we re-tree the urban forest… and realized that we were that somebody.” Jason has been amazed at the response from other businesses. “Pretty much all of the companies we talked to have been enthusiastic and jumped in to start donating and help with the planting. That isn’t surprising though. Contractors are really “let’s-just-get-something-done” kind of people.”



Local developer, Schaefer Richardson, has generously donated $5,000 to help set up donation matching for people interested in helping out (and will be participating in planting). Larkin Hoffman law firm is donating time to help the Collective set up non-profit status and consulting!




How to Get Involved:

Path of Destruction in North Minneapolis from 2012 Tornado

Path of Destruction in North Minneapolis from 2011 Tornado


Trees for NoMi

Trees for NoMi