By Greg Tudor
In all honesty, I didn’t want a job with Friends of Trees. Obviously I’m thrilled with where I work, but when I started coming to the office, it was as a volunteer. Since it was summer, I inspected trees and did plenty of data entry, but secretly, I was just biding my time until Crew Leader Training.
The idea that I could go out on a Saturday morning and plant a dozen trees before lunchtime was incredibly appealing. It was the chance to make a physical difference in my community, a difference that didn’t just benefit the homeowner who got the tree, or even just the block where the tree was planted.
Putting a tree in the ground means shelter and (potentially) food for bugs, birds and small mammals. It means cleaner water for salmon and trout, and cleaner air for everything. The leaves become compost in the winter, and the whole process starts over again in the spring.
Crew leading was something I could do that wasn’t writing a letter, wasn’t picketing a gas station. It wasn’t something done out of anger, or in retaliation. Planting a tree is a simple act with benefits that will long outlive the planter.
These small, direct actions are essential, especially when faced with doom and gloom reports of drought and famine and climate change and superstorms. I know as well as anyone else how overwhelming it can be—how you wonder if your actions make a difference. By planting trees, you can be sure that your actions do make a difference.
- They make a difference to that homeowner whose new street tree shades their house on a scorching summer afternoon.
- They make a difference to the red-winged blackbird who lives at the edge of the pond at Jurgen’s Park in Tualatin.
- They make a difference to the cutthroat trout trying to make it in Balch Creek.
- And they will certainly make a difference to you, as you walk around Portland in the years and decades to come.
Even in my short time with Friends of Trees, I’ve planted a good number of trees. I’m sure I could calculate some carbon sequestration numbers to make myself feel good, but the day I saw a cedar waxwing in an Oregon white oak that I helped plant, I got all I needed.
For more information about becoming a crew leader, or about volunteering in general, contact Andy Meeks at (503) 282-8846 ext. 24, or email him at AndyM@FriendsofTrees.org.
Tudor is the Development Manager for Friends of Trees.