If you viewed any of our Earth Month events (here’s the playlist) you probably noticed that we often talk about partnerships and climate justice. Friends of Trees’ community includes partnerships with a number of truly impactful local organizations that work with underserved communities. Underserved communities experience the worst effects of climate change and our partnerships that help connect communities to the benefits of trees play an important role in achieving climate justice.
We have a special request of you: Support our community partners. Yes, Friends of Trees will always need you, but if we are going to achieve true climate justice we all need to support Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) organizations that are part of the movement to ensure equitable outcomes around trees and the urban canopy.
These organizations are Friends of Trees’ partners and need your support:
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO): Uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice.
The Blueprint Foundation: Uplift, educate, and support the development of black-identified youth and other communities of color.
Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC): Committed to the success of underserved youth and adults.
Wisdom of the Elders: Native American cultural sustainability, multimedia education and race reconciliation.
If you’d like to learn more about how Friends of Trees partners with these organizations visit our website here.
Thank you for supporting our work and the work of our partners, and for being a part of the Friends of Trees community.
Trees are on the path to recovery and reentry at the Bybee Lakes Hope Center
For 16 years a giant empty building sat on a large, barren site in North Portland. Today, what was intended to be the Wapato Jail is now a place of recovery and hope, surrounded by new trees and a new Victory garden.
The Bybee Lakes Hope Center, run by Helping Hands Reentry Outreach Centers, serves people who are experiencing homelessness. Friends of Trees played a part in helping establish green infrastructure at the site and now BLHC residents, staff and volunteers have access to what is essentially a mini-arboretum, where a wide variety of trees will do what trees do best: clean the air, provide oxygen, shade, and habitat for bees and birds, while also helping to ease stress and contributing to other positive health outcomes for the folks who live there.
Reading about how BLHC redefined space inspired Friends of Trees Deputy Director Whitney Dorer to take a deeper look. Whitney shares, “I loved that a place intended to incarcerate became a place of healing and renewal, but I was struck by the lack of vegetation, there wasn’t anything green surrounding the building. I thought about someone staying in that building and wanting to go outside, and that there was no shade, no outdoor respite. I thought Friends of Trees could play a role.” So Whitney reached out to HHROC with a tree planting proposal.
Whitney met with Raven Russell, Director of Data & Major Projects for HHROC and the project grew. VetREST Oregon, which serves veterans, joined as a partner to create a Victory Garden where residents can grow their own food. Partners and residents were joined by landscape designer Tracy Ceravolo who donated her time to help design the site and choose trees. More than 20 different species are planted at the site, including red alder, American beech, dawn redwood, incense cedar, doug fir, fig and other fruit trees, magnolia, scarlet oak, Oregon white oak, giant sequoia … and more!
Friends of Trees Senior Neighborhood Trees Specialist Andrew Land helped with the tree side of things, “It was like designing an arboretum! It’s a huge variety of trees, chosen for drought tolerance, disease and pest resistance, and also chosen with an eye toward having a variety of leaves, flowers and forms.”
HHROC Development Director Mike Davis applauds the partnership,
“The partnership between our organizations has been great as we’ve worked to build out our therapeutic Victory Garden. Having Whitney and Drew guiding us on the types of trees as well as their care has been invaluable and will ensure that our trees grow and thrive. Without Friends of Trees and their volunteer army, we couldn’t have planted 150 trees in 1 day.”
Tree care shouldn’t be a problem at this site because residents and community volunteers are available. A recent visit to check on the trees after an unseasonable warm spell demonstrated that the BLHC community has done an excellent job—the trees are well-watered and thriving!
Bybee Lakes Hope Center in and of itself is an amazing place, providing much-needed services to people in our community who are experiencing houselessness. And thanks to a special partnership, the blank slate of the site is getting green and actively contributing to people’s restoration and healing.
CONNECTING YOUTH TO NATURE, JOB TRAINING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: JUST A COUPLE OF ELEMENTS OF SOME AMAZING PARTNERSHIPS
What started as a group of neighbors planting trees together 32 years ago has grown into a true community-based organization engaged in a wide variety of partnerships. Friends of Trees’ partnerships contribute to environmental education for K-12 students; adult job training programs; paid internships connecting underserved communities to the urban forestry field; greening low canopy neighborhoods; and so much more.
“Thank you for letting us come and plant with you, it was a GREAT experience. I learned that planting trees keeps us healthy and alive. It was a great opportunity to learn and also to be outside.” Kara, 4th grade, Friends of Trees-Charles F. Tigard Elementary School partnership
“American children now spend an average of only four to seven minutes per day playing outdoors, compared with over seven hours per day in front of a screen.” 1 That alone justifies our work with more than 2,000 young people in a typical season.
Friends of Trees’ educational programming actively and meaningfully connects youth of all ages with nature. We’re in the classroom with information about the benefits of trees, and we’re outside, actively planting and caring for trees with young people. Our work with high school students includes leadership skill building and job training through paid internships. Some stories about our youth education partnerships are here.
“Partnering with Friends of Trees has helped teach Wisdom interns management skills; we learn how to manage a business, how to engage with business people, it prepares everybody for employment.” Alvey Seeyouma, Wisdom Workforce Development Program Coordinator and Crew Leader Supervisor
A growing partnership endeavor, our Adult Urban Forestry Program, includes as past and current partners APANO, POIC, Verde, Wisdom of the Elders, Blueprint Foundation, and the Black Parent Initiative. The program connects historically underserved community members with job training and internship opportunities in the urban forestry field, read more here.
Greening low-canopy neighborhoods is an ongoing priority for Friends of Trees, and our work with APANO and other partners on the Jade Greening Project helps address this in an equitable way. Low-canopy neighborhoods are often low-income and home to historically underserved communities. These neighborhoods, such as NE Portland’s Jade District, experience significant environmental health disparities, stemming from exposure to air toxins and lack of walk-ability/accessibility. The Jade Greening Project engaged Jade District residents in dialogue about community needs to ensure the greening and revitalization–and not the gentrification- of the Jade District.
This is not an exhaustive compilation of partners, and doesn’t even touch on the more than 1,000 groups that have planted with us over the years! We’ve hosted all the scouts, reunions, birthday celebrations, employer groups, college students, high school students, elementary school students … it’s truly inspiring to see how many groups of you celebrate milestones or learn or bond or just choose to get together through planting trees together. We can’t wait to welcome you all back again!
1 National Recreation and Park Association
photo: Rosemary Anderson HS POIC students at a recent planting event.
Through Project Zero young people are creating cleaner, greener communities
Project Zero intern Adrián Moreno just completed his internship with Friends of Trees and to celebrate the milestone he recently guest-starred on our Instagram account to share a little bit about his experience:
“I wanted to help mitigate the environmental crisis that we are all living right now, so I applied to the PGE Project Zero intern position and got the job! Through this internship I got to be involved in the process of creating, maintaining, and restoring green spaces.
“I also got to build and maintain community with people who want to help the environment. I was able to learn new skills and experience new environments. Before this day, I was afraid of public speaking.”
Taaj Armstrong, PGE Dean of Cohort, talks a bit about Project Zero, “Environmental stewardship is one of PGE Project Zero’s core components; with equity as a large driver, we knew that a strategic partnership with Friends of Trees would be integral in reducing the negative health impacts of climate change on low-income communities, Indigenous populations and communities of color. We were also thrilled that Friends of Trees is a partner in PGE Project Zero Works, helping to design the green jobs internship program, and hosting a PGE Project Zero intern, which has been wildly successful.”
We loved working with Adrián and are excited to share that he’s still on the Tree Team through another of our educational programs, “I really appreciate the opportunity that FOT has given me and I’ll continue working with them through the Adult Urban Forestry Training Program and complete my career in environmental economics!”
Photo: Adrián in action during his Project Zero internship.
Meet The Blueprint Foundation
“I like the feeling of getting my hands dirty because I feel like I did something. It’s a good feeling.”
Lashay, Friends of Trees intern through the Blueprint Foundation
Friends of Trees is fortunate to have relationships with quite a few local nonprofit organizations that benefit under-served communities, such as communities of color, at-risk youth, and neighborhoods with very little tree canopy. These partnerships help make trees accessible to community members who may not otherwise have access to all that trees do for us.
The Blueprint Foundation works to expose Black urban youth to learning opportunities they usually do not get to access. Friends of Trees is proud to be a partner to the Blueprint Foundation’s Grounding Waters program, where students learn about careers in environmental science while taking an active role in environmental stewardship.
“One of the first and most consistent activities we’ve had our kids do is the Friends of Trees neighborhood plantings, which allows them to connect with their neighbors, as well as do something directly beneficial to their own community, that they see, that has permanence.” – Jason Stroman, Program Director, The Blueprint Foundation; Friends of Trees Board of Directors
The Friends of Trees – Blueprint Foundation partnership introduces Black youth to jobs in the urban forestry field. Students receive stipends to gain job and leadership skills through training and participating with Friends of Trees as Summer Tree Inspectors and tree planting Crew Leaders.
The Blueprint-Friends of Trees partnership helps connect young people to the environment, while also supporting a historically underrepresented community’s access to nature and its benefits by decreasing barriers to participation. “The ultimate goal,” Jason points out, “is to eliminate the opportunity gap that we see for Black youth.”