It’s Urban Heat Week and as the days continue to get warmer, many communities across Los Angeles disproportionately experience increased urban heat, heat-related health issues, and lack of green spaces to escape the hot summer temperatures.
Today’s TreePeople spotlight is Director of Research and Urban Heat expert, Edith de Guzman. Edith investigates best practices for the sustainable transformation of Greater Los Angeles. She also directs the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative, a multi-disciplinary, national partnership designing data-driven strategies for cooling urban areas using trees and reflective surfaces. Edith received a master’s in Urban Planning from UCLA and is currently a Ph.D. student at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
What is your favorite tree? Why?
The Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis). It’s one of our native species and is pretty year-round, with lovely magenta flowers that bloom even before the tree leafs out. It’s native to large parts of the Southwest, which means if you hike all the way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon you can find redbuds growing in the nooks and crannies of the side canyons.
Where are you from originally? What makes it special?
I was born in Milan, Italy and moved to L.A. when I was 9 years old. Milan is special for a lot of reasons, but here’s a fun fact: it has a vertical forest growing on a pair of tall residential towers.
What inspired you to join TreePeople?
I felt that I wanted to do environmental OR humanitarian work. Then I found out I could do both, right here in L.A.
What’s your favorite TreePeople memory?
I am one TreePeople’s April Fool’s pranksters and have a long history of pulling the wool over my co-workers’ eyes. One year, April Fool’s Day fell on our monthly all-staff lunch, a chance for us to have presentations and other activities. I did a very serious presentation full of technical terms and naming believable academic partners about how to reduce waste while improving soil health. The answer: “perforated brown pipe” to deliver toilet waste straight to the soil. Seeing my co-workers’ faces turn from seriously listening to figuring out they’d been had was worth a thousand words.
What’s your favorite local outdoor space?
Anywhere in the Santa Monica Mountains. We are so fortunate that these lands have been preserved!
If you could have dinner with any person (living or dead) who would it be and why?
What’s your favorite environmental book? Why?
Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey. Tons of irreverent wit and wisdom rolled into one package!
What’s your most-played song?
Two Weeks, by Grizzly Bear
What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?
Green lentils and brown rice with caramelized leeks and lots of cumin.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I can chirp like a bird and have proudly tricked a few birders with my tweets.
Los Angeles-based TreePeople is the region’s largest environmental movement, whose mission is to inspire, engage and support people to take personal responsibility for the urban environment. Visit us at treepeople.org and learn how you can join our cause.