We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Melanie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Like many others, the pandemic left me with a lot of time on my hands. I’ve always been an advocate for the environment, but knew I wanted to do something more than just use my voice to make an impact. Around that time, I learned that Los Angeles has an X amount of space available for new trees to be planted, but only 20% is actually being utilized. There also seemed to be a collective shift in society during quarantine where people were really learning to value the importance of human to human connection. So I thought, why not create something that marries those two things? Something that benefits the environment while bringing the community together. And that was how TROOT was born.
Through LADWP’s City Plants organization, TROOT is able to request the planting of trees in select neighborhoods. Once approved and planted, TROOT takes over responsibility for the trees and sets them up for adoption. (Adopting a tree is a simple commitment to watering the tree weekly.) It’s that simple. My goal is to create a positive environmental impact through the planting of trees, while deepening the roots of Los Angeles communities.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Impostor syndrome is something I really struggled with leading up to the launch of TROOT. I’m an actor and a writer with no real business training creating an organization from nothing. Who did I think I was? I remember the anxiety I felt the night before our tree planting/launch. I was thinking, oh my god what if no one wants to adopt a tree? What if the system doesn’t work? What if I’m left with ten trees that need fifteen gallons of water a week? What did I get myself into? Of course it was all a waste of energy because no less than 24 hours later the trees were planted and every single one was a adopted with a waitlist pending. That by far was one of my proudest moments. And it’s only enhanced by the photo updates I receive from our adopters, showing their children decorating and caring for their trees. I get emotional just thinking about it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My LA visitor itinerary: Malibu beach walk, bonus points if you pick up a few pieces of trash! Breakfast at Pop’s Bagel. Maybe head over to the Huntington Library for a garden stroll or spend sometime at a museum, LACMAA or The Getty! And then dinner at Zinque! (Order the Le Bowl with a side of french fries.)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
TROOT wouldn’t be possible with out DWP’s Cityplants and LA Conservation Corps. These organizations permit, supply and plant the trees before TROOT takes over the care and adoption of each tree. They are run by a wonderful group passionate people who are dedicated to making Los Angeles a greener place to live.
There’s also no way TROOT would have gotten off the ground had it not been for the encouragement and support of my mom, who also happens to be my head of operations. She believed in me every step of the way and continues to be the roots of the organization.
Instagram: @danamelanie / @troottroot