Growth Rings

Whole Foods Tackles Global Poverty

Posted on February 27, 2015 at 11:11 am

Our friends at Whole Foods in the greater Portland area are inviting community members to a Benefit Show on Friday, March 13th at the Portland Four Square Church at 2830 NE Flanders Street from 6:00-9:00pm. This event is part of the Whole Planet Foundation’s 2015 Prosperity Campaign to raise $5 million for global poverty alleviation. At the event, attendees can enjoy food and refreshments while taking in performances by Edna Vazquez, Kúkátónón (Children’s African Dance Troupe), Peruvian Folk Dancers, Belly Dancer Swati and Give It FM. The suggested donation is $5-$10.

By participating in Friday’s Benefit Show, attendees can make a difference for micro-entrepreneurs around the world. For a woman living in poverty, a $200 loan can spark lifelong change, providing the chance to gain financial independence and provide for her family long-term. By reaching its $5 million fundraising goal, the Whole Planet Foundation will be able to support 135,000 people with the chance for a better life.

whole foods community

The Whole Planet Foundation, in partnership with Whole Foods Laurelhurst, funds microloans for low-income individuals in 61 countries and 13 U.S. cities where Whole Foods Market sources products. To date, Whole Planet Foundation has authorized $60 million in loans and has funded more than $­­38 million in microfinance programs, positively impacting more than 5 million people worldwide.

Tickets are available at Whole Foods Market registers and at the show. Tickets are also available online at Eventbrite:

For more information about the event, please contact Helen Lee at

Riders in the Sky

Posted on February 24, 2015 at 1:20 am

Former FoT colleague, Toshio Suzuki is editing Northwest Passage, the magazine about BLM Lands in Oregon & Washington. He was kind enough to let us know we could reuse this article – both because the material is public domain and it’s good to be back on the blog he launched. There are more good stories worth reading.

My Public Lands - Summer 2014

By Toshio Suzuki

Downrange in Afghanistan, the military calls them unmanned aerial vehicles. Flying above Oregon Douglas firs, the Bureau of Land Management calls them unmanned aircraft systems.

Regardless of naming protocol, the small aerial drones obtained in 2008 by the Department of the Interior are being repurposed across the country for natural resource monitoring; and the military hand-me-downs may be just the beginning.

How to launch a drone? Think like an NFL QB

After a five-minute preflight check, the RQ-11 Raven drone is ready for its first launch in BLM Oregon history. With a 54-inch wingspan and a total weight of four pounds, the Raven doesn’t look like a football, but to throw one is to channel Peyton Manning: cock back at shoulder height, take a step and let it rip.

Whether above an abandoned mine in Colorado, or searching Washington rangeland for elk, the process looks the same. And the mixed flight crew from the BLM and U.S. Geological Survey is likely the same, too.

Once airborne, the Raven and its ground system take it from there. One pilot plots navigation points on computer software that looks like a GPS version of the old Atari game Missile Command. Nearby, under the tented command center, another pilot monitors the drone-eye view from a hand-held screen with blinders.

The altitude on this hot, late July day was restricted to 400 feet above the ground — plenty high enough to peer down on the 70-foot-tall fir trees at the Horning Seed Orchard in Colton, about an hour’s drive southeast from Portland. The stated goal was to see if the digital imagery from the drones could recognize and count cones on the trees, a process normally done from the ground by three full-time staffers at the orchard.

“I’m gonna do a go-to downrange here, Mark,” said USGS pilot Lance Brady, as he sent the RQ-16 T-Hawk drone moving at 30 mph. “OK, just don’t hit the trees,” ribbed fellow USGS pilot, Mark Bauer.

A Glider and a Flying Chainsaw

While the Raven is sleek, light and silent, reminiscent of the balsa wood gliders from childhood, the T-Hawk is an equally unattractive and offensively loud piece of engineering. “It sounds like a flying chainsaw,” Bauer succinctly put it.

Roughly the size and shape of a small backyard charcoal grill, the T-Hawk warms up and springs into the air on its own.

Both drone systems came from the U.S. military but only the Ravens were actually flown in combat. As the military progressed to more modern versions of the Raven, older models became surplus and about 30 drones with accompanying systems were acquired by the DOI. The 44 T-Hawks, on the other hand, are basically brand new, Brady said, likely dropped by the military due to their noisiness and reliance on airplane fuel.

The Raven systems (three drones plus equipment), when new, cost about $250,000; and the T-Hawk systems (two drones plus equipment) cost closer to $700,000, according to the pilots.

Despite the eyebrow-raising Department of Defense price tags, after five years of training on the military products, the USGS and BLM pilots actually have a much more fiscally conservative drone dream.

The Drone Dream


USGS pilot Brady estimated that a budget less than the cost of one Raven system could bring numerous more affordable drones-in the $1,000 to $5,000 range-to the field office level.

“We know that the military systems that we fly aren’t really suited for the natural resource monitoring that we want to be doing,” he said. “For that we need better systems.”

To throw one is to channel Peyton Manning. Cock back at shoulder height, take a step and let it rip.

photo by Matt Nobles

Jeff Safran, the BLM pilot and project lead at the seed orchard, reiterated the team’s long-term drone aspirations, adding that it could help share the very sought-after technology.

“Right now we have more projects than we can possibly take on,” said Safran. “Word spreads quickly of what we are doing and there’s a lot of interest.”

Mike Crawford, seed orchard program manager for BLM Oregon, said local staff looked into buying a $500 drone to explore cone counting, but they weren’t sure if they were even allowed to purchase one.

Buying a drone might be the only easy part. Flying them legally is a completely different task. For example, the aerial research above those Oregon trees at the foothills of Mount Hood took a year and a half, from filing to flying.

Military clearance is first required because the drones still use military frequencies. The next approval stamp comes from the Federal Aviation Administration. Then there are the nearby landowner notifications. And finally, each mission has to be approved at the local level.

In addition to all of this, other land management agencies are taking note of the growing drone phenomenon. The National Park Service has outlawed drones. And local municipalities are creating laws, too, and one Colorado town considered issuing hunting licenses for drones.

And of course, there are the privacy concerns.

Professor David Wallin of Western Washington University learned of the sensitivities involved when the multi-agency drone team came for elk population surveys last spring.

As he explained via telephone, “Unmanned aircraft have a public relations issue right now.

“There’s a lot of concerns about privacy issues. So, part of the point of doing these surveys is to try and demystify that and get the word out and illustrate that this technology has a lot of really interesting, positive uses.”

Even though his mission wasn’t a smashing success in terms of data accumulation, Wallin is all-in on drone technology for research and has since obtained his commercial flying license.

“It’s gonna pay off,” he said of the enormous time commitment he has invested in drones.

According to the joint DOI drone team of Bauer-Brady-Safran, all is not doomed. As they continue to demonstrate the data gathering possible for natural resources, a recent FAA-DOI partnership has helped streamline the red tape involved in flying the Ravens or T-Hawks.

“It’s been a big leap forward,” said Bauer of the new deal. “If we’re operating on public lands we’re good to go.” Safran said he doesn’t expect to have a drone in the back of every BLM pickup truck, but posed the real question he asks himself, “How do you integrate this into field management?”

No matter what they are named, Brady said a drone breakthrough could be right around the corner for the BLM.

“I think we’re actually closer than you think,” he said.

More trees on the horizon for Vancouver!

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Friends of Trees will be on Vancouver’s Westside on February 21st. You can plant with us and learn more about how we work with local communities to plant trees together, by visiting our volunteer page.

The Port of Vancouver USA is partnering with Friends of Trees Friends to grow the Vancouver urban tree canopy. We’ll be working with The Port to help plant trees across the city as part of their efforts to mitigate property development impacts. Thanks to this new agreement, FoT is aiming to increase the number of street trees it plants along the city’s right of ways – a.k.a. planting strips.

A mitigation tree is a wonky term used for a tree that is planted to replace one that’s been cut down elsewhere. Most cities require mitigation trees to be planted as a condition of development. Preferably, a tree is on the same property a tree was removed from but if this isn’t possible, there are other options: The City of Vancouver allows trees to be planted at other locations within city limits as a condition of removing trees. Paying into Vancouver’s Tree Fund is another option, though often more costly.

3.15.14 :: NE Vancouver Neighborhood Planting

Many of these street trees that we’ll be planting are funded by The Port and will be of no cost to homeowners. The care and responsibility of these new trees will remain under stewardship of the adjacent property owner. FoT provides watering reminders and health checkups to help these trees thrive.  FoT also offers ooze tubes to help make watering easy and convenient!

Because we entered this agreement nearly halfway through this year’s planting season, we’re offering FREE STREET TREES to all customers for our remaining neighborhood plantings now through March 2015. Starting next planting season, Friends of Trees will be offering free street trees to select neighborhoods throughout the city—a list that will change on an annual basis. Please help spread the news and stay posted for the release of next year’s free tree neighborhoods in early summer. From this moment forth, we’ll need more help than ever identifying planting locations and recruiting tree planters in Vancouver!


Ninkasi fuels first bike planting of the season in Eugene

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 11:55 am

By Jennifer Killian
Eugene Volunteer Program Coordinator

Bike planting in Eugene

Rain didn’t slow our teams down during the first bike planting of the season in Eugene.          Photo: Emma Newman

What a great day! Despite the rain (or maybe because of it), more than 70 volunteers had a great time planting in the Whiteaker and South Eugene Neighborhoods this past Saturday. Volunteers planted 26 street and 12 yard trees including Big Leaf Maple, Black Tupelo, Oregon White Oak, and California Black Oak, as well as a variety of fruit trees in yards. Ninkasi Brewing, which sponsored the event, will plant two trees at their tasting room.

We were also excited to host our first plant-by-bike event of the season in Eugene! Bike trailers were provided from Sperry Tree Care, CAT (Center for Appropriate Transport), and the UO Outdoor Program. Three bike teams hauled trees, tools, and mulch around the neighborhoods.

Eugene volunteers

Cheers to a great planting! Thanks Ninkasi! Photo: Jennifer Killian

After the planting, crews joined and celebrated with a mid-season appreciation social hosted by Ninkasi, which provided refreshing beer for the volunteers! Track Town Pizza supplied some delicious pizza as well. Thanks to all who came out!

A huge thank you goes to to Ninkasi Brewing for sponsoring this great planting, to KIND for providing healthy snacks, and Track Town Pizza for their generous pizza donations during the social!