News from Friends of Trees

November 2020

trees combat climate change

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project: climate change & community health

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.”

The heat map above reflects temperatures in Portland at 7:00 p.m. on a summer evening; the high temperature reflected is 91 degrees Fahrenheit, and the low is 71 degrees. This map helps us see the effect of asphalt radiating heat back into the air. Green space absorbs the heat, thus creating blue – the cooler zones!

Our community is one of seven across the United States where RWJF is studying health, health equity and climate change solutions. This is a multi-year project, and we’ll share periodic updates along with results at project completion. For more information on health and climate solutions, visit

Top photo: Friends of Trees planting event in East Portland, February 2020.

Heat map image courtesy of Sustaining Urban Places Research (SUPR) Lab, Portland State University.


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.

Stay safe!

Get to Know why you should Give Thanks to Trees

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.


News from Friends of Trees Eugene

Combating air and noise pollution through community tree planting along the NW Expressway

“I love trees. Walking through my neighborhood, all I see are trees and empty spaces to plant trees. There is so much potential in an empty space! I like to imagine what tree could grow there, and how much shade it will provide on a hot day, or how its flowers will feed the bees, or how much fun it will be to climb. When I volunteer with Friends of Trees I get to fill those empty spaces, which helps improve our urban canopy (which benefits us all).” Carrie, Friends of Trees volunteer, pictured above

For the last 6 years, Friends of trees Eugene has kicked off our planting season with a greenspace planting along the long throughway of NW Expressway. This stretch of road follows the Union Pacific railyard to the west and the neighborhoods of River Road and Santa Clara to the east.

If you take a drive down the expressway you can see the differences in growth from each of the seven phases, getting older as you travel from north to south. Over time, these trees and shrubs will help provide a natural barrier against noise and air pollutants for the nearby neighborhoods. And if you take a closer look on your drive, you may notice a hawk taking a moment to rest atop one of our wooden tree stakes. In time, these birds of prey will be able to utilize the canopies of the trees to perch on instead.

The first phase of planting was in March 2015 and included installing more than 100 native and drought tolerant species of trees and shrubs. Our first planting of this season added a seventh phase out on the expressway. Thanks to the help of 20+ volunteers, we planted 31 trees, 68 shrubs, and 46 herbaceous plants. There was a diversity of species planted from natives like Pacific madrone and thimbleberry, to drought tolerant species like giant sequoia and California black oak.

Help grow trees + community in Eugene and Springfield this season! When our area event pause is complete on December 5, join us for a planting event! Better yet, check out our upcoming virtual Crew Leader training and learn more about planting trees in our urban forest with the help of community members. Sign up by November 25th to hold your spot!

Stay connected! Visit, like, follow and engage with the Eugene Tree Team on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Photo: Crew Leaders Jeff, Carrie, and the newest edition to the Mack family and Tree Team, Aldo!

‘Tis the Give!Guide Season!

Willamette Week’s Give!Guide runs through December 31st and is a great way to learn about organizations that are doing amazing work on behalf of people, places, critters and causes (including trees + community, of course ;). G!G features Big Give Days when donors are entered to win fabulous incentives like shopping sprees, vacation packages, and more.

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!

JOIN US on Giving Tuesday, December 1, for a day of LIVE, virtual tree walks and tree talks as part of our Give!Guide good times. Check out the plan for the day here.

Learn More & Get Involved: PDX Free Fridge

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!



Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the natural

world around them through a simple solution:

Planting Trees. Together.

(503) 282-8846: Portland office

(541) 632-3683: Eugene office

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