Sustainable Urban Habitat

Proposal to City of Takoma Park to Restore Portion of Dorothy’s Woods as Sustainable Urban Habitat

Takoma Alliance for Local Living Economy (TALLE)

July 15, 2020


Addressing the climate change emergency is policy for the City of Takoma Park, but policy is not action and now is the time to act. In particular, public green space must catch up with 21st century science to include: promotion and protection of plant and animal bio-diversity, sustainable water and land management, and enhanced carbon sequestration.

One important strategy to address climate change and environmental degradation in our public green spaces is through demonstration and education. City green spaces can be re-imagined as models of a sustainable urban environment, and in so doing also guide residents to more sustainably utilize their own yards and balconies.

City-owned Dorothy’s Woods was purchased with the aim of conserving the land for the benefit of the public. The lower, once wetland meadow portion, is now, however covered with degraded blacktop, mud and weeds. We propose to restore this “once meadow” portion of Dorothy’s Woods as sustainable urban habitat. Utilizing native plants, the site will demonstrate and educate residents on effective plant selection and management suited to our Takoma Park environment. It will provide a model for other green space sites across all City Wards, as well as improved water management.

It is clear that faced with multiple crises, the City Council and City employees cannot address the climate change emergency alone. “It takes a village” is especially true now with our multiple crises. Fortunately, Takoma Park is blessed with many committed and talented residents. Over the last six months TALLE has engaged many in the community who have expressed a willingness to assist in the funding, design, implementation, and future maintenance of this project.

We are asking you to partner with TALLE and the 56 Takoma Park residents and families who not only signed a TALLE petition in support of Dorothy’s Woods habitat restoration (*) but offered to volunteer on the project. We do not intend to ask for any City funding on this project but need your support and collaboration. We ask the City Council to work with us (your village) to take this small step together toward addressing our collective climate change emergency. We anticipate your timely response.

Description of Site: Dorothy’s Woods (DW) is a 2.68 acre plot owned by the City of Takoma Park. It is adjacent to the Washington McLaughlin Christian School and is accessed by Woodland and Circle Avenues and from the right of way path between Gude and Woodland Avenues. Its wooded hillside spills out onto a flat degraded asphalt basketball court (approximately 75’ x 70’) partially covered by weeds, mud and standing water. Its southern edge opens without obstruction onto a wide arc of sky.  Link here.


  • Engage and mobilize neighborhood and City residents in sustainable urban habitat restoration through participation in the design, implementation, education and care of DW.
  • Restore and maintain DW meadow area, currently the degraded basketball court, with resilient native and edible plant species adapted to the site specific soil and water conditions. (Options for doing this include removal of portions of the blacktop or planting on top of the surface.)
  • Develop training materials and educational programs demonstrating sustainable strategies, plant selection, land use and water management practices that can be utilized throughout the Takoma Park area and in other public green spaces.
  • Identify partners, technical resources and funding sources to support this proposal.

Preliminary Timeline:

This project envisions a phased-in strategy that was begun in the Spring of 2020 and must continue this summer with City collaboration to begin planting Spring 2021. It is expected to take two years to implement all phases.

Phase One: Seek neighborhood input and guidance; Complete soil testing; Remove all or portions of blacktop (or implement surface planting alternatives); Assess groundwater conditions; and potentially plant a cover crop.

Phase Two: Plant native species; Develop a design and maintenance strategy; Identify financial needs and funding sources; Implement design and maintenance strategy.

Phase Three: Develop and execute education and training materials and programs; Evaluate, monitor, and revise project as needed.

In Conclusion: TALLE and city residents who want to act in partnership with the City to address our Climate Change Emergency need you to say “Yes, we want to do this together. Let’s sit down together (virtually) to work out the details and Make It Happen.”

Note. The long delayed but anticipated review of Takoma Park’s Public Space Management Plan will provide the City an overdue and comprehensive opportunity to address our Climate Change Emergency through a long-term commitment to conservation, restoration, and education. Many residents including members of TALLE are anxious to support this effort with you.

For questions and concerns, contact Randy Gibson, and or Karen Elrich,

(*) Petition to Build Sustainable Urban Habitat Demonstration at Dorothy’s Woods March 2020.

“The undersigned residents of Takoma Park support a project to build a sustainable urban habitat demonstration area at Dorothy’s Woods, and for such proposal to be presented the City of Takoma Park (after the Corona crisis abates) for prompt discussion and collaborative actions. Furthermore, the undersigned agree to join a team of volunteers and supporters to help plan, implement, and maintain the project.”

Please contact your Council members and the Mayor with your support for the proposal, and if you are able, your willingness to volunteer and/or contribute to the project.

Link to Takoma Park Council Members and Mayor


Download PDF of this proposal