Episode 55 – Botanical Sexism and Bed-Stuy’s Tree Lady Hattie Carthan

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Have you ever wondered how the trees on your block ended up there?

In this episode, Elise explains why botanical sexism is an interesting idea, but might not explain your seasonal allergies like you thought.

Then Olivia tells the story of community ecology advocate Hattie Carthan, who helped bring tree-lined streets back to her redlined Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Other topics include how to barter with your local community board, new tunes, and trees that smell like poop.


Story #1: Botanical Sexism (Elise)
Close up of the fanned leaves of a ginkgo tree! The female ones smell like poop when they’re fruiting, so they’re widely avoided in urban planting.
LOTUS JOHNSON/FLICKR via Atlas Obscura

Sources:
Botanical Sexism Cultivates Home-Grown Allergies, Scientific American, April, 2015
Smart Gardening: Tips for an Allergy-Friendly Garden, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, April 2018
Yes, ‘botanical sexism’ has led to more pollen in American cities, KVUE, July 2021
Oppressed by cedar fever? Blame it on the pa-tree-archy, Austin American-Statesman, Jan 2020
The reason your hay fever is so bad? Blame botanical sexism, Wired, June 2020
Temperature-related changes in airborne allergenic pollen abundance and seasonality across the northern hemisphere: a retrospective data analysis, The Lancet, March 2019
The Complicated Truth Behind “Botanical Sexism”, Slate, Oct 2021
‘Botanical Sexism’ Could Be Behind Your Seasonal Allergies, Atlas Obscura, May 2019
A-Z List Of Monoecious And Dioecious Trees, The Yard And Garden
Hermaphrodite/monoecious/dioecious, Oak Leaf Gardening
Plant reproductive morphology, Wikipedia

NOTE: Many of the above sources are biased, and either heavily or exclusively cite Thomas Ogren without any additional context or science.

*Episode spoiler* There’s no evidence of botanical sexism outside of Ogren’s work, and while his ideas may hint at the lack of biodiversity in urban areas, his findings seem to have little merit on their own without further research despite his ideas being widely circulated.

Story #2: Hattie Carthan, the Tree Lady of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Olivia)
Hattie Carthan, from the archive.

Sources:
How radical gardeners took back New York City, Vox, June 7 2021
Only Two Living Things in NYC to have been landmarked are trees, 6sqft, February 25, 2015
How Redlining’s Racist Effects Lasted for Decades, New York Times, August 24 2017
How these 1930s maps left some neighborhoods with fewer trees, National Geographic
Urban Conservation: A One-Woman Effort, New York Times, July 8 1982

Learn more about Magnolia Tree Earth Center and the Green Guerillas through their websites!

You can visit Hattie’s magnolia tree at 679 Lafayette Avenue, across from Herbert Von King Park.

The Dump

In honor of International Women’s Month, here’s a roundup of our episodes that center on women doing climate work:

We recently did a whole episode on climate feminism (Episode 51) and some feminist leaders including Jane Fonda and the aboriginal Australian activists Jacqui Katona and Yvonne Margarula.

In Episode 38 we talk about indigenous leaders Winona LaDuke and Sherri Mitchell. The episode before that, Episode 37, is about the Bird Lady, Harriet Hemenway, who protested the overhunting of birds for their feathers, as well as Lady Bird Johnson and her beautification policies in the White House.

We’ve talked about the mother of climate science Eunice Newton Foote (Episode 25), French-Vietnamese activist Tran To Nga’s fight against military use of Agent Orange (Episode 22), the opera-singer-turned-black-historical-beach-advocate MaVynee Betsch (Episode 18), Erin Brockovich (Episode 13), all the way back to our second episode on Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey (Episode 2).

And if you’re looking for new music, here are the playlists we mentioned in the episode: Banana Bread, idk anymore, and for feeling emo about quarantine and politics 🙂


The World Is Burning bookshop is live! Help us come up with book list titles and bulk up our reading list.

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

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Thanks for listening!

Ep. 67 – 2022 Rewind: The Good, The Bad, & The Updates World Is Burning

It’s the end of the year and we’re in a reflective mood! In this episode we take a look back at the climate wins of the year, updates on stories we’ve covered, and share what we’re looking forward to in 2023. Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 67 – 2022 Rewind: The Good, The Bad, & The Updates
  2. Ep. 66 – Myths, Part 2: The Overpopulation Myth
  3. Ep. 65 – Myths, Part 1: Monopolies and The Landlord’s Game
  4. Ep. 64 – Halloween – Aliens and Bigfoot
  5. Ep. 63 – Stars and Movie Stars – Asteroids and Sacheen Littlefeather