“CBO partnerships are especially important for an environmental organization like Friends of Trees because they help us effectively reach low income communities and communities of color, communities that are impacted first and the most by climate change.” -Surabhi Mahajan, Friends of Trees’ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Specialist
Trees + community is so much more than volunteers planting trees together. True community means that a diverse population has access to all of the benefits of trees, especially historically underserved communities of color. And in order to reach diverse communities we need a diverse range of partnerships.
Friends of Trees is fortunate to enjoy some amazing partnerships, and some particularly amazing partnerships are with Community Benefit Organizations (CBOs). CBOs are community-based nonprofit organizations, are often culturally specific, and provide some sort of community benefit. An example in Portland is Verde, which among other services provides workforce training for the Latinx community.
Friends of Trees’ CBO partners include Verde, Wisdom of the Elders, Black Parent Initiative, the Blueprint Foundation, APANO, and POIC. Most of these organizations are partners in our Urban Forestry Training Program*, which helps connect adults to jobs in the Urban Forestry field (learn more about this program here). Beyond this joint endeavor our CBO partnerships take a few forms:
Verde and Wisdom of the Elders each support our tree planting work through planting event preparation, participation, and follow-up, including post-planting tree care. Verde also provides some contractor services at our Portland office on NE MLK Jr. Blvd (get to know more about Wisdom in the next story).
Black Parent Initiative is a community-based organization that serves Black families or families with Black children through home care visits, economic job opportunities, and other services. The FOT-BPI partnership supports connecting Black families in Portland to nature and to tree planting events, as well as connecting to job training programs in the urban forestry and restoration sector.
The Grounding Waters program of the Blueprint Foundation exposes Black urban youth to careers in environmental science, and paid workforce training with Friends of Trees is part of the program. Grounding Water youth train and participate in planting events as Crew Leaders; Grounding Waters youth will also train and participate as Summer Inspectors, checking on the health of trees planted through our Neighborhood Trees Program, which will provide additional learning opportunities. * Note: The Blueprint Foundation is not a current partner in the Urban Forestry Training program, but is considering the program.
Our partnership with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) focuses on the Jade Greening Project, which is working to increase the canopy of East Portland’s Jade District. Friends of Trees’ involvement includes tree-planting events and targeted community outreach toward getting more trees planted and volunteers engaged. A new feature of this partnership includes our first intern from APANO, whose focus has been supporting planting events through securing food donations from diverse neighborhood businesses and joining the planting teams.
Our partnership with Rosemary Anderson High School’s Portland Opportunity Industrialization Center (POIC) involves hands-on job training and leadership skill-building with high school students. Each season 10-14 POIC students train to be Crew Leaders and they participate in planning and leading Friends of Trees planting events; the students receive stipends as part of this program. Read more about this partnership in our December 2016 edition of Treemail.
Our CBO partnerships provide countless benefits, to both Friends of Trees and to our community. When youth are able to experience leadership positions, and when diverse communities have access to training that leads to internships and jobs with green organizations, preconceived barriers about green jobs and environmental engagement start to break down. Further, the youth interns can serve as role models for other youth volunteers, particularly for young people of color who can be inspired when someone who looks like them has a leadership role.
These partnerships also have an environmental justice aspect. Many of our partners and interns serve or live in under-canopied areas that experience greater impacts from climate change, such as heat islands. Involvement with community tree planting provides a way for participants to address some environmental inequities firsthand.
Equitable partnerships represent a core value of Friends of Trees and are critical to true community building, and we strive toward fostering this type of partnership in the work we do. We are thankful to the support of the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District for support that helps make these partnerships possible.
Pictured above: Urban Forestry Training Program participants from project partners POIC, APANO, Wisdom of the Elders, Verde, the Black Parent Initiative, and the Pathways to Farming program.
At Friends of Trees, we are committed to doing everything we can to help our community gain access to the benefits of trees. We are also committed to making our green workforce accessible to all groups of people through the Adult Urban Forestry Training & Internship Program.
As first shared in our November 2018 edition of Treemail, the UF Training Program, funded by the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, is a 12 week paid training program focusing on urban forestry and restoration topics. Program participants were selected by local Community Benefit Organizations (APANO, POIC,Verde, and Wisdom of the Elders) that are also Friends of Trees partners. Program participants attended weekly training sessions focusing on landscape design, tree identification, tree maintenance, ecological site design, environmental justice, and careers in urban forestry.
We are now in the first full year of the UF Training Program. The 10-week training program was completed in the fall, followed by the coordination of internships at host sites for program participants. The goal of the entire program is to help people who are interested in the urban forestry and restoration fields gain meaningful work experience and exposure to the field so they can pursue higher education opportunities and higher-level jobs.
We are almost complete with the internship portion of the program, with interns working at varying sites in Portland, Beaverton, and Vancouver, including Honl Tree Care, Portland Parks and Recreation, Verde, and Friends of Trees. Two of our interns, Bruce and David, have been interning with the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry program; their internship supervisor, Jessica George, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Vancouver’s UF Program, shares how valuable Bruce and David were to the Urban Forestry team this winter and spring:
“We truly enjoyed hosting two spectacular interns through Friends of Trees,” shares Jessica. “David and Bruce were dedicated to getting the job done–and done to an impeccable standard. David and Bruce supported winter planting projects, pruning and mulching young trees in parks and along streets, and they installed plaques on the new Heritage Trees. Along the way they interacted with other City staff, community members, and dedicated volunteers, while representing Wisdom of the Elders, Friends of Trees, and the City of Vancouver seamlessly. We appreciate their work ethic and that they were open and willing to learn and support Urban Forestry.”
The interns also get a lot out of the experience. Many participants had some exposure to the urban forestry field but hadn’t received upper level mentorship or hadn’t been exposed to the different levels of work involved. When asked about their experience working with Vancouver Urban Forestry, both Bruce and David highlighted the community-building aspect of urban forestry and tree planting:
“It was great to work with that spectrum of the field, with the Urban Forestry department specifically. I never realized it was more than just trees and plants, but it’s also people. The bond that the City builds with residents is really awesome.” –Bruce, UF Intern
David echoed the same sentiments when describing his experience, “My experience was really great. The thing I liked about it was the work we did with the community at planting events. Vancouver UF works with different people and communities and when we plant new trees, it is at community-based events so we can make a bond with the people we work with.”
We are grateful for community members like Bruce and David who are so passionate about making our environment a better place, and for partners like Vancouver Urban Forestry who help make that possible. We look forward to sharing more about this program as is continues and grows, stay tuned!
Picture above, in front, UF Program Intern David at a recent Vancouver planting event with happy tree recipients.
Asociación para empleos y oportunidades en Verde ~ Partnering for jobs and opportunity with Verde (English version here)
“Las asociaciones como la que disfrutamos con la organización Friends of Trees (Amigos de los árboles) son las que realmente han hecho posible el modelo de iniciativa social de Verde. Las asociaciones como esta han permitido que nuestro programa proporcione empleos con salarios dignos, que cuentan con beneficios y oportunidades de capacitación, a muchas personas de bajos ingresos y personas de color que viven en el área de Portland”. —Ricardo Moreno, gerente de Verde Builds, exgerente de Verde Landscape
Al celebrar 30 años de árboles + comunidad, también debemos homenajear a nuestros notorios socios que intervienen para brindar apoyo siempre que hace más falta contar con una mano amiga.
Durante esta época del año con presencia de nieve y hielo, mantuvimos la calma sabiendo que, incluso con las cancelaciones de los eventos, nuestros socios en Verde Northwest estarían ahí para sacarnos del apuro.
Verde brinda servicio a las comunidades al crear riqueza ambiental a través de iniciativas sociales, promoción comunitaria y defensa. Desde el año 2005, Verde aporta nuevas inversiones ambientales a los vecindarios de Portland, involucra a miembros de la comunidad en la planificación y el desarrollo de tales inversiones, y colabora para garantizar que las personas de bajos ingresos y las personas de color se beneficien directamente de las inversiones en espacios verdes, hábitat, eficiencia energética y energía renovable, calles verdes, instalaciones de gestión de aguas pluviales, educación ambiental, empleos verdes y empresas verdes.
“Cuesta creerlo, pero este año se conmemora el 10.º aniversario de la asociación entre Verde y Friends of Trees. Recuerdo vívidamente el invierno de 2009 cuando Verde Landscape recibió el primer encargo de Friends of Trees para plantar árboles en sitios comerciales Era algo realmente nuevo para nosotros y, personalmente, me sentí un poco intimidado, pero con la ayuda y la capacitación que recibimos de nuestros grandes socios y amigos de Friends of Trees, la plantación de árboles en el área metropolitana de Portland se convirtió rápidamente en una de las actividades favoritas de Verde Landscape, y, en la actualidad, estamos orgullosos de decir que Verde ayudó a Friends of Trees a plantar miles de árboles en toda el área de Portland.
“Las asociaciones como la que disfrutamos con la organización Friends of Trees (Amigos de los árboles) son las que realmente han hecho posible el modelo de iniciativa social de Verde. Las asociaciones como esta han permitido que nuestro programa proporcione empleos con salarios dignos, que cuentan con beneficios y oportunidades de capacitación, a muchas personas de bajos ingresos y personas de color que viven en el área de Portland. Nuestro programa también ofrece oportunidades para que los miembros de nuestro equipo hagan la transición a empleos mejor remunerados, no solo en Verde, sino también en otras organizaciones locales. Este programa también abre el camino a oportunidades laborales que los conectan con el ambiente natural y que restauran las áreas verdes en los vecindarios donde viven, normalmente los vecindarios que carecen de los beneficios ambientales de los vecindarios céntricos de Portland”. —Ricardo Moreno, gerente de Verde Builds, exgerente de Verde Landscape
Cuando cancelamos una plantación debido a las condiciones climáticas, ¡el impacto es inmenso! Debemos comunicarnos con los voluntarios, cambiar el destino de plantación de árboles, posponer las donaciones de alimentos, los anillos de riego se vuelven viejos… y la lista continúa. Deben hacerse cientos de llamadas telefónicas, y nuestro equipo trabaja con mucho esfuerzo para organizar todo, hasta el último detalle.
Algunos eventos pueden reprogramarse, pero otros son demasiado complejos para contar con esa flexibilidad. En tales casos, con el apoyo económico de nuestros socios de la Oficina de Servicios Ambientales de la ciudad de Portland, nuestros amigos de Verde plantan los árboles que, de lo contrario, no podrían plantarse en Portland. Ellos acuden a la oficina, recogen los árboles y se van. Esta asociación nos permite reenfocarnos en el próximo evento importante, mientras se plantan los árboles cuanto antes.
Otro aspecto notable de trabajar con Verde fue el proyecto conjunto A New Forest Grows (Nace un nuevo bosque) que permitió plantar más de 4,000 árboles a lo largo del sendero multiuso de la Interestatal 205 para crear un circuito natural verde para peatones, ciclistas y las comunidades vecinas. Verde trabajó con mucho esmero para mantener los árboles en estos lugares desafiantes, con agua y cuidados. Esta asociación entre el Consejo Metropolitano, el Departamento de Transporte de Oregon y Verde se ha convertido en un modelo para otros proyectos y continuará brindando beneficios durante muchos años.
Recientemente, Verde también se asoció con Friends of Trees para fortalecer nuestro Programa de capacitación en silvicultura urbana para adultos (que ha sido posible gracias al financiamiento del Distrito de Conservación de Suelo y Agua de East Multnomah). Verde nominó a cuatro personas de su red para que participen en nuestro programa de capacitación y pasantías durante el último período de otoño-invierno. Este programa ofrece la oportunidad de establecer contactos y de estar expuestos a empleos en el campo ambiental, especialmente en silvicultura urbana y trabajos de restauración. Mediante esta asociación, Verde también acoge a un pasante en su organización.
“Admiro realmente el trabajo que ha realizado Friends of Trees a lo largo de todos estos años al reunir a la comunidad y hacer que nuestros espacios sean más verdes, más saludables y más hermosos. Me siento honrado de haber formado parte de esta gran asociación y espero seguir trabajando y colaborando juntos durante muchos años más para el bienestar de nuestras comunidades y de nuestro ambiente”. —Ricardo Moreno
“It’s really partnerships like the one we enjoy with Friends of Trees that have made Verde’s social enterprise model possible. Partnerships like this have allowed our program to provide living wage jobs with benefits and training opportunities to many low-income and people of color living in the Portland area.” –Ricardo Moreno, Verde Builds Manager
As we celebrate 30 years of trees + community, we must also celebrate our incredible partners who step in to support wherever a helping hand is needed most.
During this season’s icy & snowy conditions we took a deep breath knowing that even with event cancellations, our partners at Verde Northwest would be there to save the day.
Verde serves communities by building environmental wealth through social enterprise, outreach, and advocacy. Since 2005, Verde has brought new environmental investments to Portland’s neighborhoods; involved community members in the planning and building of these investments; and has helped ensure that low-income people and people of color directly benefit from investments in greenspaces, habitat, energy efficiency and renewable energy, green streets, stormwater management facilities, environmental education, green jobs, and green businesses.
“It’s hard to believe but this year marks the 10th anniversary of Verde and Friends of Trees partnership. I vividly remember the winter of 2009 when Verde Landscape received its first tree planting assignment on commercial sites from Friends of Trees. It was all very new to us and I personally felt a bit intimidated by it, but with the help and training we received from our great partners and friends at Friends of Trees, planting trees in the Portland Metro area quickly became one of Verde Landscape’s favorite activities and now we’re proud to say that Verde has helped Friends of Trees plant thousands of trees all over Portland.
“It’s really partnerships like the one we enjoy with Friends of Trees that have made Verde’s social enterprise model possible. Partnerships like this have allowed our program to provide living wage jobs with benefits and training opportunities to many low-income and people of color living in the Portland area. Our program also provides opportunities for our crew members to transition to higher paying jobs, not only within Verde but also with other local organizations. This program also creates pathways to job opportunities that connect them to the natural environment and restore landscapes in the neighborhoods they live in, typically neighborhoods that lack the environmental benefits of Portland’s inner neighborhoods.” -Ricardo Moreno, Verde Builds Manager (Previously Verde Landscape Manager)
When we cancel a planting due to the weather, the impacts are huge! Volunteers must be contacted, trees re-routed, food donations put on hold, donuts grow old … the list goes on. Hundreds of phone calls must be made and our team works diligently until every last detail has been taken care of.
Some events can be rescheduled, but others are just too complex to allow us that flexibility. In these cases, with financial support from our partners at The City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, our friends at Verde plant the trees that were otherwise unable to be planted in Portland. They come to the office, pick up the trees, and off they go. This partnership allows us to refocus on the next big event, while getting trees into the ground as soon as possible.
Another highlight of working with Verde was the A New Forest Grows collaborative that planted more than 4,000 trees along the I-205 multi-use path to create a green buffer for pedestrians, cyclists, and the neighboring communities. Verde worked diligently to support the trees in these challenging sites with water and care. This partnership with Metro, ODOT, and Verde has become a model for other projects and will continue to provide benefits for years to come.
Recently, Verde has also partnered with Friends of Trees to strengthen our Adult Urban Forestry Training Program (made possible thanks to funding from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District). Verde nominated four individuals from their network to participate in our paid training and internship program this past fall and winter. This program provides networking and exposure to jobs in the environmental field, particularly in urban forestry and restoration work. Verde is also hosting an intern at their location through this partnership.
“I truly admire the work that Friends of Trees has done through all these years by bringing community together and making our spaces greener, healthier and more beautiful. I’m honored to have been a part of this great partnership and I look forward to many more years of working and collaborating together for the well-being of our communities and our environment.” –Ricardo Moreno
photo credit: left and right photos courtesy of Verde, center photo courtesy of City of Portland, BES.
Love trees? Looking for meaningful work in a supportive, fun work environment? Then check out our opening for a Neighborhood Trees Specialist.
Neighborhood Trees Specialists implement community-based, neighborhood street tree planting projects in collaboration with volunteer Neighborhood Coordinators, Neighborhood Associations and other partner groups in accordance with the Friends of Trees’ mission. Ideal candidates will be personable, creative and adaptable; have a background or interest in community tree planting and care; able to juggle multiple priorities at once; and have a desire to work with diverse communities and individuals of all backgrounds.
Interested? Details here.