Tree Lovers of Nashville: Ingrid Campbell

We plant trees through the Cumberland River Compact’s private property programs – but also build community by bringing neighbors together, with the help of amazing leaders like Ingrid Campbell.

Ingrid Campbell, community volunteer, connector, and president of the McFerrin Park Neighborhood Association, brings these themes together with a few of her greatest passions: community and neighborhoods, and nature and trees. We are lucky to be collaborating with Ingrid on several planting projects in the works. Learn more and get inspired in this Q&A, and look for a corresponding video interview soon.

Q: Could you introduce yourself and your community?

A: My name is Ingrid Campbell and I’m a member of the McFerrin Park community. I’ve been here since 2014, and now actively the president of McFerrin Park’s neighborhood association. I love being part of this community. This East Nashville feel of history and activity and community, and it’s definitely neighbor-oriented. This is an awesome community.

Q: What in particular do you love about trees?

A: I grew up in New York – no, not from the city! I’m from Westchester County in a town called Peekskill. We sit on the Hudson River. Part of the thing about Peekskill and Westchester County period is that there are so many lakes and ponds and natural water. People would stop on the side of the road when they saw running water, like a natural aquifer, and go to collect it! Being part of nature and respecting it and enjoying it was something instilled in me. That and the fact that my father was big in horticulture and my brother is in landscaping.

I loved trees from a young age. I used to watch them from our front porch. We have all four seasons, distinctly, (one of them I could do without, though – winter!) and I love watching trees because it’s like watching a canvas start to paint itself. They go from the browns, to a light green, to a vibrant green, to the oranges and reds and purples, and then you can even smell it all too! You notice the birds and see everything that is thriving thanks to the trees. The whole process of the trees’ growth – with the leaves falling to the ground and decomposing and fertilizing the soil – if you pull up a stack of leaves you see how well it fertilizes what’s underground by seeing how healthy the soil is. That whole cycle is just a part of life and enjoying it.

Q: How do you give back to your neighborhood?

A: I don’t believe in living somewhere and taking, taking, taking and going about my business. Again, it’s like the full cycle of life. If I get something, I try to give something. It’s just what I always try to do. I try to give more than I get. That’s why I got involved in the neighborhood association – first as a board member, then VP, then president. When you get to know the neighbors, you start to understand that there’s different types of needs. One of the needs is senior care, and that’s something I’m very involved in. By being in tune with what people need, that’s understanding a neighborhood. I might not personally be able to help but I may know someone who knows someone! As a true community, you raise a flag and the community comes out. That’s what I’m trying to instill and to exercise. Our area has gone through so many changes in the last 30, 40 years. There are still some people who were here throughout that whole time, but also a lot of new people like myself, who don’t know the history and maybe don’t know all their neighbors. I hope to extend a hand and say, “I might not know exactly what’s going on, but I’m here to help and bring about new beginnings.”

Q: How did you get connected to tree-planting projects in Nashville and in your neighborhood?

A: Being connected to the community and understanding what’s needed and looking ahead to the future, and how we should position ourselves, I started to get involved in other initiatives within Davidson County and especially District 5. In realizing that, I learned about this opportunity. I thought, “Hey… we can get free trees?! You mean, I don’t have to go to a store to purchase them? And they are trees that are native to the area and are mature? Substantial trees given a great running start that you can plant in your yard?” Beautification is wonderful for so many reasons, but it also adds to the value of your home. Let’s start recruiting people and let them know about this opportunity – all you have to do is dig your hole! And if you can’t do that? We can get some people in the neighborhood to volunteer and help you. You don’t know what’s going on with people, but you have to get out there and get to know your neighbors. That’s what I’m trying to do.

If you build a foundation in the neighborhood where we know each other and what we might need, this is what you try to build: connections. Same thing with the trees. You might think about a tree as something singular, but that’s not true. They have a root system that goes out and connects to many trees. You don’t see it, but it does. And that’s what one person can do. You may see one person, but you don’t understand all the connections and how they touch many other lives. 

I think we need to engage more people and understanding that we’re not a silo. Yes, we can have differences, but caring for another human being is a basic core and we can do things for each other. 

Ingrid pictured with Beautification Commissioner Russell Kirchner, at a recent “Neighborhood Tree Celebration” block party event

Tree Lovers of Nashville is a series to highlight the amazing advocates and supporters of trees in our city. If you would like to suggest someone to be interviewed for this series, reach out to hello@rootnashville.org.

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