This past Monday, Urban Releaf hosted its 5th Annual MLK Day of Service Tree-Planting. More than 100 volunteers from the community—both long-time UR supporters and first-timers—came out to 27th and Alicia Sts. In West Oakland to help UR plant 40 trees. It was a fantastic event, a great day, and a wonderful way to give back.
“What made the event remarkable,” said Urban Releaf founder and Executive Director Kemba Shakur, “was that it was a community-building event. Local community groups came together to make it happen.” The tree-planting, she added, “gave this once-blighted block devoid of canopy and greenery new life.”
Before the tree-planting, District 3 Councilperson Lynette Gibson – McElhaney spoke. She thanked UR for performing community service, extolled another example of Oakland going green, and noted that UR has been on the frontline of addressing environmental issues in Oakland, as well as the fact our organization employs local youth and adults from the community. Emcees Ayodele “Wordslanga” Nzinga and Rhonda White-Warner offered benedictions, then Aztek folkloric dance group Mixcoat Anahuac burned sage and delivered an invocation to the four corners. Mixcoat Anahuac then led the community members in a circle around the block. The actual tree-planting — performed by community members, under the direction of UR’s tan-vested stewards – went smoothly and efficiently; in less than an hour, all 40 trees had been planted!
The event then became a full-on celebration and mini street festival. Kids—and even some adults—enjoyed horse and pony rides, courtesy of the Oakland Black Cowboys Association. People got their boogie on to the grooves of the Frat House Boyz and Brotha Chaz and the Peaceful Vibe. Poet/emcee Paradise Free Jah Love kicked off a “treestyle” session. Meanwhile, artist K-Dub painted a canvas which became an interactive art piece, as attendees munched on pupusas and tamales from Taqueria Oaxaca and ndole, jollof rice, ginger yams and chicken from Taste of Africa. Special thanks to Communities for a Better Environment, Farm Fresh Choice, Service for Peace, Americorps, The Oakland Maroons, Kaiser Permanente, Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe’s, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., East Bay Move to Amend, CAL FIRE, USDA Forest Service – and all the community members who helped out with the tree-planting!