If volunteering with Friends of Trees has been on your radar or you are just looking for ways to contribute to your community–you are in the right place! Friends of Trees is seeking dedicated volunteers for a variety of roles in the coming planting season.
Today we are highlighting Christopher Masciocchi, volunteer Neighborhood Coordinator to East Portland’s Hazelwood neighborhood. Chris excels in this diverse role of community building, event planning, and local tree advocacy. Chris has a lot of great things to share about the Neighborhood Coordinator role and has been gracious enough to share them with us. Check out his interview below and discover if this is the volunteer role you’ve been searching for!
“The Neighborhood Coordinator role is a great one because it means interacting with the Friends of Trees staff, local businesses that want to support their efforts, the neighbors looking to plant trees, and the many volunteers that just want
Hey! My name’s Bryan, and I am working as an intern (via the Duke Engage program) for the summer here at Friends of Trees. In my position, I support both the Neighborhood Trees and Green Space programs as they perform necessary administrative and maintenance tasks in between planting seasons. We don’t plant in the summer because many trees would not be able to survive the shock of being dug up and then planted in a new location during the hot summer months. But even though there are no planting events going on, we still have much work to do! Planning an entire year’s worth of planting events for both of our main programs is no small feat. Our team is hard at work making sure that our previously planted trees are doing well and that our upcoming plantings run as smoothly as possible.
The Green Space team is going back through all of our planting sites from the past year, doing maintenance which is vital to the survival of the native ecosystems we work to restore. Without the care of the summer maintenance team, many of the trees and shrubs planted by our awesome volunteers would not be able to survive their first years in their new environments. Much of our maintenance work involves removing invasive plants from planting areas, putting down mulch, and watering the new trees and shrubs. I’ve found that I have conflicting feelings towards Himalayan blackberry, one of Oregon’s most prevalent invasive species. With its fast-growing, spiky, and hardy stems, this plant gives our team quite a challenge at most of our sites. However, the berries it produces are a delicious snack, especially after working out in the sun all day!
Bryan in the field on a Green Space maintenance day
The Neighborhood Trees program has several different projects going on during the summer months. Volunteer Summer Inspectors travel around the city, checking on the health of all of the trees we have planted over the past year. They even go back and check on a portion of trees that have been planted more than a year ago, to make sure that our trees are continuing to thrive on Portland’s streets. Any trees that seem unhealthy are checked on by our staff, and we work with homeowners to help their trees grow or replace any trees that have died. Our canvassing team is working its way across Portland, talking to homeowners and trying to find new places for us to develop the city’s urban canopy. Back at the office, our staff is working hard doing all sorts of administrative work that helps us re-organize and transition from one planting season to the next.
I’m from the east coast, and have never been to the western part of the country until this summer. Since coming here, I’ve been absolutely astounded by how green Portland is. The people who live here clearly care a lot about their environment, which is why I see so many beautiful trees and gardens around the city. Exploring different neighborhoods on my Summer Inspector routes, I’ve witnessed firsthand how urban street trees really benefit those who live near them. Especially during the summer, trees provide streets and buildings with awesome shade and insulation. The air quality is noticeably nicer in areas with more foliage, which is so important for cities that have a lot of car and bus traffic. Plus, in my opinion, trees just look beautiful, and make urban landscapes much more pleasant and liveable. I can confidently say that Portland has the best commitment to preserving and increasing its natural resources out of any city I’ve been to. A huge part of that commitment comes from individuals, either by maintaining trees and gardens on their own properties, or by volunteering with organizations like us!
Bryan Higgins is the Duke Engage Intern with Friends of Trees
Today I introduce you to Martha: Neighborhood Coordinator to SE Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood and all-around amazing member of our Tree Team. [But before I get too far, if you don’t know what a Neighborhood Coordinator is and why they make our Neighborhood Trees planting events successful year after year, get in the know!]
Recently, Martha and I talked about trees, party-planning, how great it feels to meet new people in your neighborhood, and why we’ve been lucky enough to have her volunteer as a Neighborhood Coordinator year after year.
Read the interview below and get hip to Martha and her connection to Neighborhood Coordinating.
Martha (second from the right) and the Neighborhood Coordinator team, posing next to the community potluck lunch at their tree planting event.