Get to know our partner: Wisdom of the Elders

“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.

This story is from the January 2020 edition of our e-news, Treemail; check out other issues of Treemail here.

We need to do something bigger than ourselves.

“We need to do something bigger than ourselves.”

– Mohamed, Friends of Trees volunteer since 2014

Mohamed and his wife Farah, and their children and friends, have planted hundreds of trees with us in memory of their daughter, Ayan. Farah very candidly shares why, “Every tree that we plant I feel like it’s for her. And I think about all of the benefits that all these trees will produce … it keeps on giving. It’s a way of sharing her with the world.”

This beautiful video shares the story about why Mohamed, Farah, and their family plant trees together in honor of Ayan:

“When you are outdoors and in nature you tend to forget whatever problems you may have. When you go into nature with others and look at the beauty, how big things are … it has that healing process.” -Mohamed

The more than 50,000 trees and shrubs we plant every year with so many community volunteers transform neighborhoods and natural areas. Trees clean our air and water, cool the planet, provide habitat—and can help us feel better. There are many examples of how trees improve our health; just the act of planting a tree can be personally transformative; digging in the dirt with the hope and intent of something taking root just feels good.

It’s about trees and it’s about community. When we come together to plant trees we are doing something good, we’re making a difference and we’re making our world a better, more welcoming place.

There is so much we can do that is bigger than ourselves. Donating to Friends of Trees’ programs that plant trees and grow community will help our planet and its inhabitants for generations to come. As Mohamed also shared, “Planting trees really will outlive us. The effort that you put is so small, the benefit is just gigantic.”

Thank you for the gigantic act of supporting trees + community. We look forward to planting trees with you!

Trees & Health Symposium in Gresham on Nov 13

Volunteers at a Friends of Trees planting in Gresham's Nadaka Park
Volunteers at a Friends of Trees planting in Gresham’s Nadaka Park

We all know that trees provide benefits to people and the communities they live in.

But do you know how to care for trees to help them thrive, and how you can add to Gresham’s tree canopy at home or in your neighborhood?

The Gresham Trees and Health Symposium will feature a mix of speakers, film, discussion, tree care booths, light refreshments, and a summary of the City’s Green Gresham, Healthy Gresham tree project in Rockwood.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
6:00 – 8:00 PM, Rockwood Boys & Girls Club

More information and registration information is here, thank you to our co-hosts Multnomah County and City of Gresham!

Get to know our partner: the City of Vancouver

“Friends of Trees does more than simply plant a tree at a Vancouver resident’s house. They plant the right tree, the right way, in the right location.” -Charles Ray, City of Vancouver Urban Forester

For 16 years Friends of Trees has been planting the right trees, the right way, for Vancouver residents in partnership with the City of Vancouver. Currently more than 500 trees are planted every year here, thanks to the help of hundreds of community volunteers.

Vancouver’s Urban Forester, Charles Ray, reflects on this long-lasting, impactful partnership, and the important role trees play in the community,

Vancouver has a long history with trees and considers trees community assets that provide multiple benefits, including clean water. The simple truth is trees in the community have practical, quantifiable values and are not merely decorations. They provide essential benefits that we cannot live without.

“We are fortunate to have an organization like Friends of Trees that shares the same mission and helps us accomplish more. Most municipal programs across the country dream of having an opportunity such as this. Friends of Trees does more than simply plant a tree at a Vancouver resident’s house. They plant the right tree, the right way, in the right location.

“Friends of Trees engages that person several times through the process, enabling staff and volunteers to share the benefits of trees and educate them about the City’s processes and requirements around trees. It also offers them an opportunity to engage hands-on with the community asset, the tree that will be planted in front of their house. This often leads to stronger community connections and civic involvement, and knowledge of the benefits, how to care for and needs of the urban forest.

“Planting the right tree in the right place and giving it the right care and pruning make all the difference to ensuring a healthy urban forest today and for generations to come. It only takes a minute to improperly prune or remove a tree but a lifetime to grow one.

“We cannot do it alone. I am excited by Friends of Trees’ commitment to Vancouver and the community’s efforts to meet this need. If I could ask for one thing it would be participation from the business community to sponsor plantings so that we can increase our annual planting goals with Friends of Trees.”

Charles, we couldn’t say it better ourselves; Vancouver businesses, join us!

Pictured above: Far left, Jessica George, City of Vancouver; standing, third from left, UF Program intern Bruce

This is from the April 2019 edition of our e-news, Treemail; check out that issue of Treemail, and others, here.

PGE announces $100k, 5 year grant to reach 1 million trees planted

This Saturday, April 13th, Friends of Trees volunteers will plant more than 1,000 trees and native shrubs in Tualatin with longtime partners Portland General Electric (PGE) and the City of Tualatin. PGE employees, including Maria Pope, PGE’s President and CEO, and their friends and family will be planting alongside representatives from the City of Tualatin and its Mayor Frank Bubenik, and community members.

This year, PGE announced a special gift of $100,000 that will help Friends of Trees reach the milestone of one million trees planted since its inception. PGE has supported Friends of Trees since its founding in 1989; PGE is sponsoring a total of 10 planting and tree-care events, bringing the total of PGE-sponsored plantings to more than 100 since 2005.

A press release with event details and contact information is here.