In 1854, the city of Oakland, California’s first mayor Horace Carpentier proclaimed, “The chief ornament and attraction of this city consists, doubtless, in the magnificent grove of evergreen oaks which covers its present site and from which it takes both its former name of ‘Encinal’ and its present one of ‘Oakland.'”
Cut to post-industrial-revolution Oakland, 170 years older and hundreds of thousands of people larger, and it is sometimes difficult to see the association between the city and its name.
That’s exactly why Kemba Shakur founded Urban Releaf in 1998. An urban forestry non-profit, Urban Releaf plants and maintains thousands of trees and plants in economically disadvantaged and ecologically underserved communities in Oakland and the surrounding East Bay. The organization has also been involved with several long-term urban forestry research studies which assessed the ecological and social impacts of tree planting in urban communities, as well as watershed restoration and climate protection.
Every year for Earth Day, the organization picks an area in Oakland in need of greening and calls for volunteers to donate time and money toward the effort. In 2016 and 2017, TEECOM worked with Urban Releaf to coordinate volunteers from architecture, engineering, and construction firms.
This year marked Urban Releaf’s 20th anniversary, and the AEC community came out in full force on Earth Day, April 21, to support the organization’s tree planting efforts. Ten AEC firms raised $5,000 for trees and plants sent volunteers to plant them. Firms participating this year included:
- Coffman Engineers
- Ewing-Foley, Inc
- Integral Group
- KPW Structural Engineers
- Ratcliff Architects
- Sandis Civil Engineers
- W. Bradley Electric, Inc
“We’re excited to support Urban Releaf in giving back to our local community,” says Justin Nagy, Director, Marketing & Business Development at Enovity, a Veolia company. “Recognizing Earth Day is part of our mission as a Veolia company: to address the world’s resource challenges through optimized management of energy, water, and waste.”
“Corporate responsibility and sustainability are core values at AECOM, so participating in the Earth Day tree planting event with TEECOM and Urban Releaf was a fun and rewarding opportunity to put those values into action,” added Jessica Cadkin, Senior Proposal Manager, Water, at AECOM.
An Aztec Fire Dancers performance group blessed the ground before the tree planting, and then we dug in.
The annual Earth Day event is an opportunity for AEC firms to give back to our communities. We’re grateful to Urban Releaf for their annual organization of this event as well as their yearlong commitment to sustainably re-greening Oakland.
If you’re an AEC firm interested in joining us next year, please get in touch. We hope to see you in April 2019!