Community Resilience Projects

McGrath Parking Lot With Overlay Showing Split Before/After Artist Rendering of Planted Forest Area

Building Community Resilience Through Planting Miyawaki Forests & Designing CoolPockets

Click an event heading below to learn more!

Learn about forest soil while collecting logs, leaves, seeds, seedlings and cuttings to bring the secret biological community of the forest floor into the City.

Map Plan Showing Miyawaki Forest Plantings at McGrath Parking Lot

Establishing a home for more than 45 species of plants by planting 1,500+ small bare root seedlings and up to 2,000 potted trees and shrubs, plus seeds and installing habitat features!

Map Plan Showing Miyawaki Forest Plantings at Plumley Village

Establishing a home for more than 55 species of plants by planting 2,000+ small bare root seedlings and up to 2,500 potted trees and shrubs, plus seeds and installing habitat features.

Thanks to state funding, Worcester will soon be home to four new public spaces designed to reduce the impact of extreme heat in neighborhoods that need the most relief. Our 2023 Municipal Preparedness Vulnerability (MVP) action grant will assist with planting two pilot Miyawaki Forests on municipal properties and designing two CoolPockets in some of our most densely populated neighborhoods. These projects will advance our goal of promoting climate resilience to extreme heat, as well as many other goals related to air quality, flooding, biodiversity, community building and resilience.

Both the Miyawaki Forest and CoolPocket sites will be in Massachusetts-designated Environmental Justice Communities with high heat vulnerability. Our Community Liaison, Guillermo Creamer, is partnering with numerous community organizations to engage neighbors from start to finish.

Miyawaki Forests will be planted at:

  • McGrath Municipal Parking Lot
  • Plumley Village

They are densely planted, multi-canopied, small (1,000 – 10,000 square feet) urban forests that are proving to be an excellent solution to many sustainability and resilience problems in dense cities with little space to spare – improving air quality and health, and reducing urban heat and flooding. They have demonstrated remarkably high growth and survival rates due to the planting method, which also fosters symbiotic relationships between trees, shrubs, fungi, and microbial life in the soil. Worcester's pilot builds on experience of other Massachusetts municipalities (Cambridge, Ayer/Devens) as well as other cities in the U.S. and globally.

CoolPockets will be designed for:

These spaces will provide shady nooks for neighbors to gather, relax, and find respite from the heat island effect caused by a concentration of buildings, concrete sidewalks, and asphalt. They will be designed, but not built, during this grant cycle.

Timelines and Forest Maintenance: Planting and design activities are funded in large part by thea grant, which ends on June 30, 2024. However, the work will be ongoing after that, to water and care for the two young forests for several years to come, until they become self-sustaining. We are looking for volunteers to help take care of these forests. Please use the RSVP link above to indicate your interest.

Funding and Consultants: Via the City's Department of Sustainability and Resilience, Worcester was awarded a $409,000 MVP grant for these projects, with an additional 25 percent commitment of City funds and in-kind support toward the total project cost. The City has contracted with BSC Group, which has extensive experience in urban landscape design with community participation, and Biodiversity for Livable Climate, with expertise in planting Miyawaki Forests in New England.

Two Examples of CoolPockets in Urban Settings

Please come back to visit this page as we post about our progress! And if you want to get involved, please email


McGrath Miyawaki Forest

We need your help to make sure that this vision becomes a reality! Join us on this journey towards a greener and healthier Worcester!

Contact Information

Sustainability & Resilience
City Hall Room 108
455 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

Accessible via WRTA Bus Line. View Schedules

Phone: 508-799-8324
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Office Hours:
By Appointment: Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Worcester 311
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Phone: 311
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