News from Friends of Trees

We need LOTS of tree planters in February!

See the Get Involved section at the end for details

January 2020

Partnering with Community Benefit Organizations

to plant trees + grow community

“CBO partnerships are especially important for an environmental organization like Friends of Trees because they help us effectively reach low income communities and communities of color, communities that are impacted first and the most by climate change.”

-Surabhi Mahajan,

Friends of Trees’ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Specialist

Trees + community is so much more than volunteers planting trees together. True community means that a diverse population has access to all of the benefits of trees, especially historically under-served communities of color. And in order to reach diverse communities we need a diverse range of partnerships.

Friends of Trees is fortunate to enjoy some amazing partnerships, and some particularly amazing partnerships are with Community Benefit Organizations (CBOs). CBOs are community-based nonprofit organizations, are often culturally specific, and provide some sort of community benefit. An example in Portland is Verde, which among other services provides workforce training for the Latinx community.

Friends of Trees’ CBO partners include Verde, Wisdom of the EldersBlack Parent Initiative, the Blueprint Foundation, APANOand POIC. Most of these organizations are partners in our Urban Forestry Training Program*, which helps connect adults to jobs in the Urban Forestry field (learn more about this program here). Beyond this joint endeavor our CBO partnerships take a few forms:

Verde and Wisdom of the Elders each support our tree planting work through planting event preparation, participation, and follow-up, including post-planting tree care. Verde also provides some contractor services at our Portland office on NE MLK Jr. Blvd (get to know more about Wisdom in the next story).

Black Parent Initiative is a community-based organization that serves Black families or families with Black children through home care visits, economic job opportunities, and other services. The FOT-BPI partnership supports connecting Black families in Portland to nature and to tree planting events, as well as connecting to job training programs in the urban forestry and restoration sector.

The Grounding Waters program of the Blueprint Foundation exposes Black urban youth to careers in environmental science, and paid workforce training with Friends of Trees is part of the program. Grounding Water youth train and participate in planting events as Crew Leaders; Grounding Waters youth will also train and participate as Summer Inspectors, checking on the health of trees planted through our Neighborhood Trees Program, which will provide additional learning opportunities. * Note: The Blueprint Foundation is not a current partner in the Urban Forestry Training program, but is considering the program.

Pictured above: Urban Forestry Training Program participants from project partners POIC, APANO, Wisdom of the Elders, Verde, the Black Parent Initiative, and the Pathways to Farming program.

Get to Know Our Partnership with 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

Pictured above: Matt, Bruce, Dave and Will of Wisdom of the Elders at a recent SE Portland tree planting event.


News from Friends of Trees Eugene

Thanks to our partner City of Eugene Parks & Open Space Division, sponsor Mountain Rose Herbs, and more than 140 community volunteers, Friends of Trees Eugene hosted a very special MLK Day of Service.

On January 20, 79 trees were planted in Westmoreland City Park and nearby south Eugene neighborhoods. AmeriCorps volunteer Anna shared her thoughts about volunteering on this day of service with local news station KEZI, which covered the event,

“Service is such an important thing because it brings communities together … It really gives places an opportunity to flourish and brings everyone together that would never meet each other.”

Special shout out to the various volunteer groups who helped contribute to a record-breaking number of volunteers for a Eugene FOT planting event. We were joined by groups from local Girl Scout troops, Starbucks, Springfield Wayfair, PAE Consulting Engineers, U of O students, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Join us at our next event! We’ll be planting street and yard trees in Eugene and Springfield neighborhoods on February 1st, details about that event and others are in our Eugene planting calendar. We look forward to planting trees with you!

Remembering Commissioner Nick Fish

“Imagine if our trees got organized and sent us a monthly bill, reflecting benefits of a hearty tree canopy! Think what we’d pay for the shade, the clean air and water, the water they keep out of our stormwater system, the increases in property values, the aesthetic value – the list goes on and on! It turns out the benefits of trees are priceless.”

– From Commissioner Fish’s remarks

when he received Friends of Trees’ 2018 Community Partner award

Friends of Trees lost an incredible friend when Commissioner Nick Fish passed away on January 2. In his twelve years on the Portland City Council he made sure to take the time to get to know our programming and the importance of urban trees and green infrastructure. As Commissioner of the Bureau of Environmental Services and of the Parks bureau, he listened to our challenges, celebrated our successes, and advocated for this important community work. He strived to make Portland a healthier and more equitable place to live, and as we plant thousands of trees this year, we will remember him and be grateful for his leadership and friendship.


We love Madelyn’s note and we, in turn, thank YOU for helping us keep our world healthy. To everyone who donated to our recent fundraising campaign, and to our Give!Guide partners HOTLIPS Pizza and Level Beer – THANK YOU! We can’t do this without you.


ALL HANDS ON DECK! It’s the height of planting season and we need your help planting in February. Get outside, be with community, and let’s get some trees planted!

The following events really need some extra volunteer love:

February 1 at Ghost Creek in North Plains; Sandy River Delta

February 8 in Happy Valley; Gateway Green in NE Portland; Westside Vancouver; Creston-Kenilworth area of SE Portland

February 22 & 29 in the Eugene-Springfield area

… and so many more!

Please visit the Portland Metro area planting calendar or the Eugene-Springfield calendar for exact locations and for more opportunities for you to make a difference through planting trees, together.

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

Learn more about how Friends of Trees greens our region + grows community through checking out other issues of Treemail here