Angie Coghlan

Angie Coghlan, 4800 Springfield AvenueAngie Coghlan – 4800 Springfield Avenue

Coghlan has planted hundreds of trees in West Philadelphia and she wants to plant more. A retired nurse, Coghlan has been the block captain of 4800 Springfield Avenue for 32 years. During that time, she was also active in  Cedar Park Neighbors and in the revival of the Firehouse Market. Mostly, though, she’s had trees on her mind.

Angie co-founded Cross Baltimore Tree Tenders with her friend and neighbor, Johanna Fine, 20 years ago. “We were losing the tree-cover in our neighborhood and we tried to do something about it,” Angie remembers.

At first they acted informally, planting small trees in the lawns near the curb. “We called ourselves guerilla tree planters,” because they didn’t seek permission from the city, says Angie. For their first project, they planted two plum trees on a corner of Windsor Ave. and 48th St.

Over time, Angie and Johanna met the city’s requirements of having permits and formal permissions. “We developed a really good relationship with the arborist from our district and count him as a friend to this day.”

Angie and Johanna have partnered with UC Green since its inception. Angie has been a board member as well as an advisor to the organization. “Angie is one of UC Green’s pillars,” says Susan MacQueen, director of UC Green. “She is always thinking about what to do next.”

One of Angie’s long-term projects has focused on 47th St. and 48th St. corridors between Woodland and Baltimore Avenues. In 2005, she organized a one-day campaign to plant 47 trees on 47th St. To pull it off she met with residents, coordinated volunteers and gathered donations of supplies, tools and trees. In 2008, a similar drive at 48th and Woodland Avenue Recreational Center, planting 50 trees.

This week, Angie and Johanna are going back to 48th and Woodland to check on the trees they planted nearly six years ago.

“We are finding that some of the trees are stressed. The roots are all tangled up,” says Angie. She worries that they will not survive. “We’ll see if we can save them.”

Much of Angie’s work is behind the scenes, identifying trees for removal. Just last week, the city responded to one of her reports and removed two giant sycamore trees near the corner of 45th St. and Baltimore.

Johanna and Angie also assist homeowners who need to get rid of dead trees. “Larger trees pose a big problem for homeowners,” says Angie. Knowing that tree removal isn’t cheap, they collect donations to help residents pay for the removal.

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