If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together. -Lilla Watson
Friends of Trees is incensed and stands in solidarity with the Black community. We add our voice to the many groups and institutions this week calling for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Aubrey, and too many others.
It is undisputed that Black, Indigenous, and all people of color bear a disproportionate impact of racial injustice and its deadly consequences. Environmental justice is among these systemic inequalities. FOT acknowledges that the Black community is more impacted by respiratory illnesses due to poor air quality making them more vulnerable. At Friends of Trees, we believe the benefits of trees should be experienced by everyone: clean air, clean water, and healthy communities are human rights. We heartily commit to listening to community needs as we work for an environmentally just future where Black folks can breathe freely.
Just as trees are connected via their root systems and intertwine underground with fungi to exchange nutrients, carbon, and water in order to survive and thrive, so too are our human communities connected. When white supremacy and police brutality affect some, it is a blight on us all. Just like a tree community’s root systems, the onus is on those with resources to combat the disease.
Friends of Trees is responding to the call for action and encourages you to join. Each and every one of us can use our voices to support the Black community. We urge you to get involved.
Whitney Dorer, Interim Executive Director
Phoebe Krueger, Board Chair
Environmentalists For Black Lives Matter image by @greengirlleah
The Blueprint Foundation | The Black Parent Initiative | Black Lives Matter: PDX | PAALF | Equitable Giving Circle | The Black Resilience Fund | NAACP Portland | Eugene Springfield NAACP | Urban League of Portland | Coalition of Communities of Color | Momentum Alliance | Self Enhancement, Inc. | Campaign Zero | Don’t Shoot Portland | Black United Fund of Oregon
In honor of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary Friends of Trees is hosting a virtual, day-long celebration on our social media channels – it’s the virtual EARTH DAY PARTY WITH THE TREE TEAM! Tune in on Wednesday, April 22, beginning at 10 a.m. We’ll have Tree Talks, LIVE tree walks, and more! Here’s the schedule, and here’s the agenda for the virtual Earth Day party hosted by Friends of Trees Eugene!
THANK YOU to the sponsors of the Earth Day Party with the Tree Team!
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with the Eugene Tree Team – virtually!
We’ll have tree talks and LIVE tree walks + talks on our Facebook and Instagram channels, and we’ll share some of the Portland Tree Team’s events, too! Join us for #EarthDay2020 !
Thank you to our #EarthDay2020 sponsors!
March 13, 2020
Dear Friends of Trees family,
Because we love you and we want to do our part to diminish the risk of COVID-19 in our community, we are making adjustments to the remainder of our planting season events. Tree planting in the near-term is important to this world; it is not more important than our immediate human health. Currently, all Friends of Trees events in the month of March are canceled. We will let you know about April and beyond when we know.
As we take into account the recommendations of health professionals, we’re asking for your understanding as we reserve the right to continue to change and cancel our events. Please check our online events calendar for the latest information about the status of Friends of Trees events.
The Friends of Trees office is closed to the public through the rest of the month. Staff will work on-site, in the field, or remotely as much as possible, but in the interest of everyone’s health we ask that you not visit our office this month. We’ll keep you posted about April and beyond. If you need to reach us email will be the most effective (it’s not always possible to check our voicemail remotely), you can find a staff directory here; please be patient as it may take a little extra time to get back to you.
Meanwhile, we’re still planting trees. Using a variety of methods and with a variety of partners, as long as it’s OK to do so we will be out there planting trees. It will be hard, and it won’t be nearly as fun as when you’re with us, but, well, it’s what we do and we’ll keep doing it as long as we can.
If you are registered to have a street or yard tree planted at your property, rest assured, your tree/s will be planted. It may not be on the date we planned, nor will it be planted with a team of your neighbors (at least in March), but your tree will be planted. Unfortunately we cannot tell you exactly when your tree will be planted, but don’t be surprised if one day you look out your window and you see a couple of us with shovels. Go ahead and wave. We’ll wave back.
This is all uncharted territory so thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this together.
Take care and stay healthy,
Interim Executive Director
“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
The Wisdom of the Elders-Friends of Trees partnership began four years ago when our Neighborhood Trees Program needed some post-planting help. We had a number of street trees that didn’t get planted at a Saturday planting event and we were able to contract with Wisdom Workforce to plant those trees.
Soon after that first partnership experience, Wisdom hosted a community conversation for its partners, toward sharing information about how best to partner together in a way that is thoughtful and respectful. We participated in a Talking Circle, where there was honest communication about the native perspective on the dominant culture and environmental issues.
The partnership grew, and Wisdom’s post-planting support evolved to include mulching newly planted trees. Wisdom participants also began engaging on planting day, through training and participating as Crew Leaders, which provided opportunities for the organizations to work together more closely. We’ve now added pruning as a partnership element, providing even more hands on tree care experience.
Wisdom Workforce Program Coordinator Alvey Seeyouma participated in the Urban Forestry Training Program and, through that program, interned with Friends of Trees. Alvey says that the benefits of the partnership extend beyond Friends of Trees and Wisdom of the Elders, “Oh my gosh, I think our partnership benefits all communities. It helps the Wisdom crew leaders become more comfortable with their engagement with the community, so it benefits everyone.” He lists some more benefits of the partnership, “Wisdom interns are learning new skills through the community tree planting events. They’re learning about tree identification, planting techniques, and about community engagement through training as Crew Leaders.”
What would Alvey want folks to know about Friends of Trees? “Friends of Trees is a great organization. Everyone in the office, they’re so helpful, so kind and generous. They want everyone’s experience to be positive; they’ve offered so much training, which we are so grateful for.” Friends of Trees is equally grateful for the opportunity to enhance our organization and our community tree planting events through partnering with Alvey and everyone at Wisdom of the Elders.
Wisdom of the Elders records and preserves traditional cultural values, oral history, prophesy and other messages of guidance from indigenous elders in order to regenerate the greatness of culture among today’s and future generations of native peoples. Learn more at www.wisdomoftheelders.org
Pictured above: Matt, Bruce, Dave and Will of Wisdom of the Elders at a recent SE Portland tree planting event.