In addition to cleaning, he will cut away with a pair of handheld snips, dead parts of tree. He told me about times when he's been approached by DDOT guys who asked what he was doing and he explained what he was doing and they went their merry way. Then there was the time when a woman on R St yelled at him for trimming trees with his snippers and threaten to call the cops on him. She didn't, probably because he was sweeping up the block as well.
A pretty good story was when he was walking with his father, who was in town visiting. They were walking toward the O Street Market construction. They came across a few guys spray painting the sidewalk near 7th & Q to mark out some tree boxes. So Brian engages them and asks what were they doing. One guy explained that there was some city grant money in relationship to the O St. market and they were going expand the tree boxes. Then his father gushes, "Oh, you should see 4th St! Wow, all the new trees. It's amazing! And the neighbors are planting and buying them, and it's absolutely stunning!" Then the city guy looks at Brian with some confusion, and he confirmed, "Yeah we're planting trees." Then the city guy says, "With permission, right?" "No," Brian answered. Still in gush mode, "They're incredible, they're so beautiful!" Then at one point one of the city guys asked how long he's been planting trees, and the guess is 10 years doing 1/3rd of the block. One of the city guys asked, "So you just give up on the city?" "Yeah in regards to trees, yes."
About eight to ten years ago, Brian with started with a little 8ft oak tree in front of his house. It was like a street sign and about 10 kids from the block helped him plant it. Now the tree towers above the townhouses. This is a theme when it comes to tree planting. He doesn't do it alone, he gets the neighbors, be they kids or adults or both, to pitch in and make a thing of it.
Earlier this year neighbors, with Brian as the ringleader, planted a tree on the block. It might have been a tree neighbors pooled money and bought. So the call goes out, a tree is bought and neighbor labor is organized and a tree got planted. This was in a permit is needed. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the permit to plant a tree (remove a tree yes, plant tree not seeing it). Another part of the solution is explaining what kind of tree it is, and how it is one of the types of treebox trees allowed. Long story short the tree was allowed to stay an the men with shovels and the guy with the clipboard went away. Yay.