by Randall Beach, New Haven Register

Maybe the state’s utility commissioners realized they had moved into hearing something deeply personal when several high school kids stepped up to the microphone to talk about trees, yes, but also about their slain friend, Javier Martinez.

The students, from New Haven’s Common Ground High School, which focuses on environmental education, had waited patiently for their turn Thursday night in Hamden Middle School’s auditorium.

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Nariah Odums, a Common Ground senior, wrote the following testimony as she was waiting for her turn to speak to members of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission and hundreds of community members concerned about the fate of Connecticut’s trees:

Good evening chairmen. My name is Nariah and I am a senior at Common Ground High School, an environmental themed high school. I am here with my fellow classmates, who along with myself have worked for Urban Resource Initiative planting trees across our city. I am an active worker like most CG students.

The majority of these trees that you are anxious to root up have been the result of hard labor that us teens have contributed in order to better the environment.

We recognize the significance that trees have to our community, but also recognize the hazards that some of these trees have created due to being near power lines. There are other solutions than to kill these trees that we planted.  You could trim the trees, so they are not an issue, or dig the trees up and move them to a more appropriate place. Practice sustainability with these trees.

Do you really want to discourage the youth by letting us witness our passionate labor go down into the gutter, with the removal of the trees? 

These trees benefit us by filtering air and stopping erosion. There is love and patience in every tree. Recognize the history behind these trees, see the light they bring to our community and to future generations to come.

That concludes my statement. I will pass it over to my classmates.

Do you live in New Haven? Do you value our city’s street trees? You can request a tree in front of your home by contacting New Haven’s Urban Resources Initiative.

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