(Oakland, CA) Urban Releaf, a non-profit urban forestry organization based in Oakland, has announced rescheduled dates for its 15th Anniversary Celebration Party, to be held 6-9pm, Dec. 5, 2013, at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, 410 14th Street. The event features a silent auction, wine tasting sponsored by Barefoot Wines, and live entertainment.
15 years ago, founder and Executive Director Kemba Shakur had a dream to invest in our urban forest, which she saw as “practically non-existent, with treeless streets everywhere” in her hometown of Oakland. That dream became a vision which birthed Urban Releaf, whose mission is to plant trees, create jobs, and further education around the environment in low-income communities.
Since its inception in 1998, Urban Releaf has planted or distributed over 16,000 trees, mainly in inner-city communities which suffer from low tree canopy and are at risk for environmental health hazards resulting from poor air and water quality. Urban Releaf has also provided jobs and training for young people in urban forestry and tree stewardship, as well as working with numerous community groups and non-profit organizations, and Cal-FIRE and the US Forest Service.
A decade and a half after its founding, Urban Releaf is recognized as a pioneer in the burgeoning field of urban forestry and a factor in the Bay Area’s green movement. Urban Releaf has served as a model for educating communities about the benefits of trees and helping to develop urban forestry into a credible field. Urban Releaf instituted the UFEST program which trains young people in forest stewardship, conducted original research around the benefits of trees, and, through its partnership with UC Davis, helped to develop the iTree program–which has since become the industry standard for urban and community forest analysis and benefits assessment tools. With the implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, and related bills like SB535 and AB 1532, urban forestry has been identified as one of five priority areas for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF), and may well prove to play a big role in California’s environmental future, as the state transitions to a clean energy economy.
Over the years, Urban Releaf has engaged community residents and thousands of youth; Shakur now serves on several state and national boards, including the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) and the SB535 Coalition, and has been profiled in major media outlets. Earlier this year, Shakur was named a “Sole of the Year” by Barefoot Wines, and received the Arbor Day Foundation’s highest honor, the Sterling J. Morton Award.
“Even beyond the recognition, awards, and media attention, the biggest thing for me is the collaborations, volunteer support and community engagement that we’ve been a part of,” said Shakur. “After 15 years, and 16,000 trees, the urban forestry movement that Urban Releaf was instrumental in helping to start has gained momentum on a local, statewide national level,” said Shakur.
Looking forward, she continued, “We are seeking new challenges, growing our team, and developing new initiatives to better serve communities, particularly low-income communities impacted by poor air and water quality and a lack of trees.”
Media Contact: Joann Do, info@urbanreleaf [dot] org, 510-601-9062
Event Details: 15th Anniversary & Member Appreciation Party Thursday December 5, 2013 – 6:00pm to 9:00 pm Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, 410 14th St. (@ Franklin), Oakland, CA