During the past year and a half, Ian Bonham has taken on many roles at Friends of Trees and inspired many to plant trees.
Shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree in Geography from Portland State University last spring, Ian became a summer inspector so he could check on new street trees during their first summer after planting. He also attended FOT’s Neighborhood Coordinator Training so he could help coordinate his neighborhood’s planting in Piedmont for the next planting season. Then, since he didn’t own property where he could plant trees, he decided he could help add trees to city neighborhoods by becoming a Neighborhood Trees crew leader.
What inspired him? In addition to having a father who loved nature and hiked with him when he was younger, two people helped him appreciate city trees while he was in school: PSU Geography Professor Joe Poracksy and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Grey to Green Canopy Coordinator Jennifer Karps.
It’s not surprising that Ian was hired as a canvasser for BES’s Grey to Green Initiative last year to help people in Portland neighborhoods sign up to plant trees with Friends of Trees. It was especially fun, Ian said, to introduce himself in Piedmont as both a canvasser and a neighbor. He also enjoyed meeting hundreds of homeowners in other Portland neighborhoods.
Now he’s meeting hundreds of homeowners in Vancouver as a Friends of Trees Neighborhood Trees Coordinator there.
How has his experience in Vancouver differed from his experience in Portland?
“In Portland,” Ian said, “there are people who chase you down the street to sign up for trees.” In Vancouver, there’s a greater need to build awareness of the benefits of planting trees. One advantage in Portland is that more neighborhoods have sidewalks and a planting space between the sidewalks and the street, so more people are aware of the possibilities for planting trees.
All in all, though, Ian describes Vancouver as a “very tree-positive city.” Many residents “really appreciate the trees that they have” and see how “the trees define their neighborhoods.”
Ian likes working with the other three members of the Vancouver Urban Forestry team. The staff is flexible and helpful when residents call about their trees, and everyone pitches in at weekend tree plantings, including Vancouver Urban Forester Charles Ray.
Friends of Trees plantings are scheduled in 30 Vancouver neighborhoods this year. If you live in central or west Vancouver, you still have time to sign up for trees to plant at your home during your neighborhood planting this winter. Your tree will cost $25-$50, depending on which neighborhood you live in. If you can’t afford the cost, we’d be happy to offer you a planting scholarship. Learn more here.
Watch our blog in the coming weeks for a story about Vancouver’s urban forester and Friends of Trees’ growing partnership with the city.