The World Games 2022 and Vulcan Materials Company Partner with Volunteers to Plant Trees in East Thomas Neighborhood

  • Community

Vulcan is getting ready for The World Games 2022 Birmingham. Today, the company’s Ensley Team planted trees in the East Thomas neighborhood to help beautify the city, cool Birmingham streets and positively impact air quality. Sustainability has always been one of the core values of the Games and a longstanding commitment of Vulcan. As the TWG 2022 Sustainability Sponsor, Vulcan continues to live The Vulcan Way: Doing the Right Thing, the Right Way, at the Right Time.

Here is what The World Games 2022 Birmingham had to say about the effort:

The World Games 2022 and its official Sustainability Sponsor, Vulcan Materials Company brought together dozens of volunteers to the East Thomas neighborhood in Birmingham to plant 90 trees that will promote beautification and offer residents some protection against stormwater flooding.

East Thomas is one of the neighborhoods in the Smithfield Community, an area rich in the history of Birmingham. This community was once home to many prominent figures, including Author Shores, the first African American lawyer to represent clients in Alabama courts and the first African American appointed to the Birmingham City Council, and educator and political activist Angela Davis.

In the early 1950s, this district was nicknamed “Dynamite Hill” because of frequent Ku Klux Klan bombings. Since those days, residents have faced a new threat to their homes, flooding.

Vulcan Materials Company, a Birmingham-based construction materials producer, serves as The World Games 2022 sustainability sponsor. Vulcan’s goal is to help ensure TWG 2022 leaves a lasting environmental impact in Birmingham.

“This is a low-lying area that frequently floods, so if you plant trees you’re going to preserve habitat, preserve land, and help deal with the flooding. You’re solving a lot of problems at once,” said Janet Kavinoky, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Communications at Vulcan Materials Company. “This project directly connects with who we are as a company and our values: people, community, and environmental stewardship. It is a way to have a lasting impact on the community and help celebrate an exciting event.”

The trees planted provide flood mitigation through root absorption. The roots serve as water pumps that move water from the soil to the leaves, protecting land from hard rainfall. Volunteers planted and provided mulch to several tree species, including river birch, catalpa, cypress, sycamore, hawthorn, and black gum.

The World Games 2022 Executive Vice President of Community and Volunteer Engagement Kathy Boswell says the tree planting initiative is “an opportunity to plant a different seed of history and leverage The Games to leave a legacy gift for the community.”

“Even before The Games arrived, this community had an incredible story to tell, and we’re happy to have planted the seeds to help history grow differently,” said Boswell.

TWG 2022 partnered with Francesca Gross, Environmental Specialist with Cawaco RC&D Council and member of TWG 2022 sustainability advisory group, to lead the tree planting initiative.

“After surveying different areas, we chose the East Thomas community and Legion Field Stadium to plant 150 trees,” said Gross. “There was not a motive behind The World Games to help this neighborhood. We had a gift, and we are grateful we could give it.”

Gross says the focus was to bring neighborhoods, industrial neighbors Vulcan Materials Company, and The Games together for this experience.

“The project presented an opportunity to help East Thomas implement new flood mitigation practices and improve air quality,” said Gross.

Keep Birmingham Beautiful, a City of Birmingham Public Works division, provided volunteers with trash bags to pick up litter.

For volunteer opportunities at The World Games 2022, visit the website