Does a community based tree planting program help create a more resilient community? We know that low-income, historically under-served communities – often communities of color – experience the most severe consequences of climate change; part of the reason is that so many low-income communities have so few trees and are missing out on trees’ many benefits (more on that below). A new community partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is exploring a better understanding of the comprehensive benefits that trees and community engagement provide.
This partnership is a collaborative research project examining the physical and social dimensions of a community tree planting program as a strategy to improve public health and mitigate climate change. This work includes a local community advisory board, collection and analysis of resident survey data, and the physical analysis of a changing urban tree landscape using data from Friends of Trees’ 30 years of planting trees, focusing on East Portland’s Jade District.
APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon); Portland State University professors Vivek Shandas (School of Urban Studies) and Ryan Petteway (School of Public Health); Willamette Partnership; and Meyer Memorial Trust join Friends of Trees and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as partners in this project. PSU is the lead investigator for the project, managing research design; APANO leads community outreach and engagement as well as the coordination of the community advisory board; and Willamette Partnership is supporting survey design, analysis and communication of lessons learned. Given our 30 years of tree planting and community engagement experience (and thus 30 years of data) Friends of Trees is the project lead, helping develop and collect community surveys, recruit for the community advisory board, and share planting data.
“While climate change can harm the health of anyone in America, some communities and groups of people are more likely than others to be harmed,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, a public health and environmental health physician. “Climate change exacerbates health disparities in the most vulnerable communities, including tribal communities, communities of color, and low-income communities. That is why culturally relevant solutions that address health equity are critical to creating climate resilience.”
PLANTING EVENTS + COVID FREEZE
Dearest Tree Family,
Our love and respect for our staff and volunteers informs everything we do. Because your health and safety is our top priority, Portland Metro area public volunteer planting events are paused until December 16, and Eugene area events are paused until December 5, in accordance with local COVID freeze regulations. Check out the Portland Facebook or Eugene’s Facebook for updates or visit our events calendar.
By now it’s fairly common knowledge that trees are not just good for the planet, trees are so good for our health. Of course the benefit to our physical health includes trees’ ability to clean our air & water, create oxygen, and cool our planet. Our mental and emotional health also benefit: just viewing trees eases stress (tree-lax!), while being among trees and nature also helps with anxiety, depression, fatigue … so make more time for forest bathing! And if you can’t get out there, our Facebook page has lots of virtual tree walks, like this one from Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve at our first planting event of the season.
It turns out that expressing gratitude is also good for our health, so giving thanks to trees is a win-win. Showing gratitude can improve your mood; lead to overall greater happiness, leading to lower rates of stress and depression; and showing gratitude can make you more optimistic.
We hope you’ll join us in giving thanks to trees – this and every season. And if you decide to do some tree haiku or write a thank you note to the trees in your life (how about the ones you see everyday? or trees from your past that have left a mark on you?) we hope you’ll share it with us.
G!G donors to Friends of Trees also get delicious incentives from our generous partners! The first 300, $10+ donors get a free slice from HOTLIPS Pizza and a pint of beer at Level Beer.
The next big Give Day is November 24, all $10+ G!G donors will be entered to win a $500 shopping spree at Powell’s Books – mark your calendar and THANK YOU!
At Friends of Trees, we have had to change the way we conduct our community tree planting events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Potluck lunches were a highlight after a Neighborhood Trees planting event, when hungry planters could escape the cold and together celebrate the hard work done over a community meal.
This year, since indoor gatherings pose a high risk of transmission, we’ve had to suspend our community meals while celebrating with each other from afar. We still, however, want to use that energy of food donations and spirit of feeding each other by encouraging volunteers who donate food to our potlucks to donate food to other sources.
This year, we are redirecting people who get trees with us and who would usually donate food to our events to donate that food to local neighborhood free fridges! PDX Free Fridge is a network of fridges and cupboard-style pantries where neighbors can donate ready to eat meals, groceries, and non-perishable items so other neighbors can take what they need. This helps build up neighborhood food security in a dignified way. If you feel inspired to help volunteer or keep your local neighborhood free fridge stocked, use this map to find the fridge nearest you!