Sunday, March 29, 2015

RMA's new logo wins national award!

Our new logo won a national award! Gill Fishman Associates earned a prize for the new RMA logo in Graphic Design USA's yearly competition. The Fishman firm, which designed RMA's web site and brand, walked off with 17 awards in this competition, in which thousands of firms around the country submit their designs.

You can find our new logo throughout RMA's social media, digital and print materials. The logo is central to the lovely, evocative web site the Fishman firm designed for us, offering 30 pages of visually arresting images.

The RMA rebranding did not happen overnight. 

"Our program crosses many fields of endeavor which had to be unified visually," says Deborah Shapley,  President of RMA.

"Maps are an example," Shapley explains. "We had a layer of interactive tree data on a map of our part of Washington. Fishman enlarged the map to be easier for users. He framed it in a soft, gray-blue. The new page suggests our wonderful, historic avenue even as visitors utilize twenty-first century technology." Explore our interactive tree tool today! Go to to learn more about the tree species on our grand avenue and enjoy street views.

About Gill Fishman Associates
Gill Fishman Associates ( is a leading design and branding firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The office is located on "the other Mass Ave" - a popular street cross-cutting  Cambridge and Boston. Below are samples brands the firm created for its prestigious clients.
 Mr. Fishman's appreciation of elegant, treed landscape comes in part from living in a picturesque, wooded landscape in Brookline designed by Frederick Law Olmsted at the turn of the twentieth century.  
About the award
Since 1963 Graphic Design USA ( has been the news magazine for graphic designers and other creative professionals.

Friday, January 30, 2015

9 new trees will make allée

Nine trees were just planted! Look for the line of staked trees in the big lawns on the east side of Mass Ave going uphill from 30th Street to the South Africa Embassy.

An energetic Casey Trees crew planted at nearly the exact sites where the original trees were planted in 1904, forming a majestic streetscape for decades thereafter.

Casey Trees planted this "second row" for the Department of State Office of Foreign Missions, which manages the two vacant buildings there. We at Restore Mass Ave are grateful that Cliffton Seagroves and Suzanne McPartland of OFM heard our message about the importance of  "re-greening" Embassy Row by replanting the original allées wherever we can.

Jabbari Brew of Casey Trees
Two trees in the line going in.

Jim Woodworth and Deborah Shapley

But this isn't 1880. It's not even 1904. We had to decide: What species to plant here for the 21st century?

Along the curb is a row of little-leaf lindens (Tilia cordata). OFM, advised by RMA and Casey Trees, made the new second row be mostly American lindens (Tilia americana).

American linden thrives along DC streets and is the historic tree for Mass Ave. According to RMA's book A Grand Avenue Revival, American lindens were planted uniformly on both sides of Mass Ave for four rows stretching seven miles across the city, after the double rows were planted here.

The nine new trees include three red maples (Acer rubrum). Jim Woodworth of Casey Trees recommended them for variety and to compliment the unusual Mideast-style domed building behind them.

The brick Georgian mansion and domed building next door used to be the Residence and Embassy of Iran. Since 1979, when the US broke ties with that country, the State Department OFM has had custody of the properties.

OFM officials said that planting this site with large-type trees was an excellent form of "green diplomacy" for the United States.               -  Deborah Shapley

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Historical society party launches our book

      Mud-filled streets. A red line slashing across the iconic map of Pierre L'Enfant's plan for the capital.  Cloning the Champs Elysées. Sherlock Holmes....
      Guests learned the connections among these things at a reception launching our book A Grand Avenue Revival at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. December 6.
Neither rain nor downtown traffic kept history fans away.
       Deborah Shapley, author, explained why Mass Ave was planned by L'Enfant as the city's longest east-west avenue (the red-line slash graphic). She said the post-Civil War leaders of Washington copied the Champs Elysées' use of parked green space and tree rows to create a designed public thoroughfare - and to save money on the amount of muddy roadway to be paved.
        RMA's first phase, she said, had been devoted to adding trees to reform the historic allées along the two-mile Embassy Row section of Mass Ave -- which originally had seven miles of linden allées.  She thanked Casey Trees for having donated historic-type trees, that, parallel with city sidewalk trees, are regrowing the original views.
     A Grand Avenue Revival is the platform for RMA's next goal: complete landscape restoration, so future generations can enjoy the original landscape highlighting the street's famous architecture.
     But what, exactly, was that landscape?
Craig Moran, Lily Nguyen
     The answers are shown in the book, based old-photo sleuthing worthy of Sherlock Holmes!
Deborah Shapley with John Suau and Anne McDonough of HSW

Barbara J. Saffir
Norma Lombardi
Davis Lee Kennedy
     Guests included the designer of the innovative volume, Sally Murray James, of Cutting Edge Design DC, Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, introduced Ms. Shapley.  Guests included Dr. Clifford Janey, Embassy Row resident and DC Schools Superintendent under Mayor Anthony Williams. Davis Lee Kennedy, publisher of The Current, attended. Among the DC history fans was Barbara J. Saffir, author of Walking Washington, DC.
        HSW's locale at the Carnegie Library of Washington at Mass Ave and 9th Street NW, was a special venue linked to the crucial period described in the book. We offer special thanks to John Suau, Executive Director of HSW, and the staff, particularly events manager Karen Harris.
         View some of the Dec 6 presentation on our Historic Initiative Page.  Our website offers free download of A Grand Avenue Revival.  Request your free print copy on our Contact Us page.
                                                                                  Photos:  Richard Royce/RMA

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Our new website has launched!

Restore Mass Ave has a new website!  Visit on your computer, mobile or tablet and learn about our mission, projects and people - the faces of RMA. Scroll through our tree plantings and other milestones on the Events Archive page to see how we've added hundreds of trees.

Tree care is a critical part of RMA's work. Our Tree Care pages have practical advice so anyone can learn how to care for trees in Washington. This section gathers info about DC government's role in tree planting plus other resources to help individuals, homeowners, businesses and embassies connect with public agencies and relevant laws.

Contractors who do the right thing and embassies that show special care for trees and landscape are highlighted in the Green Community section.

RMA President Deborah Shapley says: "Finally, we can showcase RMA's past and present work; we can give credit to the dozens of people and organizations who are re-greening this historic street."

The rich photographic look, design and logo was created by Gill Fishman Associates. a branding and marketing firm in Cambridge, Mass., with a long list of prestigious clients. GFA offers the ability to collaborate with clients long distance as if they were a just a step down the street.

Fishman says, "We are delighted to have been able to carry out this project and show that Restore Mass Ave sets an example for the nonprofit world." 

Here's Gill. See him also on the Faces slideshow on the site. 
Photo: GFA
On our Board of Directors page, you'll see Jillian Fishman, a great Treekeeper volunteer and active Board member, who helped to spearhead the rebranding and website launch. The programming was done by the talented Luann Ebert,  This fine team, working together, has enabled RMA to enter a new phase.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AmeriCorps volunteers dig in to help our trees

Our volunteers came from Kansas, Alabama, California - and Greece! Four young Americans with AmeriCorps helped trees by the church on 22nd Street just off Mass Ave.  "It was wonderful to understand how important the trees are to a community," said organizer Sarah Chandler from Manhattan, Kansas.

 Our team included Christina Georgiou of the Embassy of Greece, which is nearby at 2217 Mass. In 2010 this embassy received trees in the planting at which RMA and Casey Trees installed 13 trees around the Church of the Pilgrims.  At our August 30 Treekeeper meetup, Christina said she loved learning about tree care and the amazing US government program, AmeriCorps.  (Formerly known as Vista, AmeriCorps started in 1993. In twenty years 700,000 participants have worked to improve local communities, giving one billion hours of service.)

Who's the fellow above on right?  He is RMA star Treekeeper Robert Thomason. Robert is a Mass Ave resident and a terrific teacher to those who want to learn how to grow bigger city trees. 

Below is a scene from our planting of these trees in October 2010. You can view this and our other six plantings with Casey Trees on our new website

In the photo church parishioners and Casey Trees volunteers are planting London plane trees,  American hornbeams and dogwoods on this lawn, which 25,000 commuters pass daily. On the south and west yards of the church, the trees we planted are: sweet gum, bald cypress, swamp oak and catalpa.   For other great RMA news, look below this photo!
For  Who We Are, Where We Work and Tree Care how-tos , visit our new web site The site was generously provided by Gill Fishman Design of Cambridge, MA.

                                                                                                      --  Deborah Shapley

Friday, September 5, 2014

Conservation International partners with RMA

Many young workers who have moved to DC know local cafés, gyms and other hangouts. But they know nothing about the trees they pass on the street every day. This view was expressed by a group of volunteers organized by Conservation International (CI) in a workshop with Restore Mass Ave on August 16.

The group, organized by Natalie Omundson of CI, first cleared out tree boxes in the 2400 block of Mass. One "neediest case" was a young elm tree next to the street, surrounded by an orange construction fence which enclosed the tree, plus trash piles and weeds.  

Volunteers cleared this tree box, raising the tree's odds of survival.
It took 7 people - led by RMA Treekeeper Robert Thomason - to clear out the tree box - poking through the fence and setting it back afterwards. Why the mess? This tree is 10 feet from a massive embassy renovation at 2406 Mass. Thankfully the construction firm,  Forrester, has protected and fenced this little tree.  But its soil is compacted and it needs water.  RMA will follow up to get the embassy next door to provide water, and get Forrester to help it survive.  

Afterwards, the volunteers discussed trees on their streets and guessed their types and condition. They considered how they might help those trees.

Conservation International is a very large nonprofit; its projects in 33 countries address big problems such as species loss and deforestation.  But the volunteers said that from the Arlington, Va. headquarters, they don't normally visit actual projects or see near-term results.  

That's why actively helping trees here in DC, was fun, they said. Ms. Omundson said they hoped to work with RMA on other projects.
                                                                                       - Deborah Shapley  (Photos: RMA)

Conservation International volunteers.
RMA's Robert Thomason (blue shirt) in the discussion session.        

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Volunteer tree care season under way

At top, our volunteer Treekeepers help two linden trees by a busy bus stop, where people need cool and shade. Below, Treekeepers remove rocks and clay hindering young elms by the Embassies of Georgia and Turkmenistan.

Above Mikel and Joe Witte dug away dirt, glass, and junk packed around one stressed linden. Michael Kinzer swept this discarded stuff into a tarp so we could carry it to the public trash.
Embassy Row Hotel (2015 Mass) connected its spigot to our hose, so we gave these thirsty trees lots of water. Shown are the hotel's Derek Strickland Jr. and Max Noyes with Treekeepers.

The trees we helped in another session were two little elms which RMA and Casey Trees had planted to rebuild the historic second row in the 2200 block of Mass. Their roots were suffocating from clay and rocks that had piled up in the sloping yards. 

At left is the hole we dug to excavate the base of the little elm by the Embassy of Turkmenistan (2207 Mass).

Below, Treekeeper Matt Milano pulls out the stake around the next-door elm at the Embassy of Georgia (2209 Mass). Garrett Steed needed a pickaxe to excavate the hard clay around this tree.

Later Rob Nevitt mulched both trees. We gave them several doses of water.  Both embassies will follow up. Now that these trees' roots can get water and air directly, they should grow better.

Photos: Above RMA. Below: RMA Richard Royce

We tag one elm to show  its benefits. As a 2.5" American elm it provides $8 in annual benefits. IF we can grow it to 8" in diameter the tree will give back $52 per year, according to   But whether young city trees ever reach their mature size is a big IF. They need help! 
To get notices of August and September volunteer sessions, please email  We hope to greet you under the trees!

-- Deborah Shapley, Restore Mass Ave