#TechPlantsSF engages tech community in greening San Francisco

Tech employees, companies “put down roots” with Friends of the Urban Forest

August 11, 2014 — Friends of the Urban Forest is launching a new program to engage the local tech community in efforts to make San Francisco a greener, more sustainable city. FUF has declared September to be the first annual “#TechPlantsSF,” a month-long partnership between FUF and tech companies to green our city. It is a two-pronged approach to greening San Francisco: tech employees will participate in the planting of street trees and sidewalk gardens, and tech employees and companies will contribute the funds necessary to green San Francisco during the month of September.

“We’re inviting our world-renowned tech community to ‘put down roots’ in its home town by planting street trees and sidewalk gardens in neighborhoods that need them,” FUF executive director Dan Flanagan said.

UberConference, the popular conference calling service built by the teams that brought Google Voice and Yahoo! Voice to tens of millions of users, has partnered with FUF to make #TechPlantsSF a success. Company employees brainstormed with FUF staff, provided introductions to others in the tech community, and designed the logo for the program. The relationship began when a group of about a dozen UberConference employees volunteered to plant street trees with FUF in the Mission neighborhood in April.

“Friends of the Urban Forest has done an incredible job, greening neighborhoods and working to beautify San Francisco,” Craig Walker, CEO of UberConference, said. “Our team strongly supports the work that FUF has done and plans to work together with others in the tech community to make a lasting impact by increasing the ‘green infrastructure’ of our city.”

Though San Francisco has a reputation for leadership on environmental issues, its urban forestry policies are dismal. The city has underfunded its urban forestry program for decades, and holds property owners responsible for the maintenance of street trees, unlike most other cities. San Francisco’s tree canopy coverage (the percentage of area covered by trees) is only 13.7%, which ranks 17th among the 20 most populous U.S. cities. The city’s tree population is shrinking, as tree mortality outpaces tree planting.

“I know that the tech community is looking for ways to give back to San Francisco, and getting involved in urban forestry is a great way to do that,” San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “Our urban forest benefits everyone, but it’s in serious trouble, and needs the boost that the tech community can provide.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the technology sector to make a lasting impact and investment in San Francisco,” San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell said. “This new program will touch and improve neighborhoods across the City and help to repopulate our urban forest, which has been declining over the years. Public-private partnerships like this are crucial to enhancing the quality and life for all San Franciscans.”

During September, FUF will lead volunteers and neighborhood residents in planting street trees in the Outer Sunset, Noe Valley and Castro neighborhoods, and in planting sidewalk gardens in the Bayview neighborhood. The organization estimates that it will plant approximately 120 of trees, and will convert approximately 1,500 square feet of concrete sidewalk into natural space. The organization estimates that approximately 140 volunteers will be needed to complete the work, and that $150,000 will be needed to cover all costs for the month.

Tech employees can sign up to participate in #TechPlantsSF at http://techplantssf.org. The site describes the ways in which FUF will acknowledge and reward participants.

“We know the tech community loves San Francisco, and bringing more trees and sidewalk gardens to our neighborhoods is a great way to show it,” Flanagan said.

High-resolution images of UberConference employees volunteering at a tree planting available here.

About Friends of the Urban Forest

Since 1981, Friends of the Urban Forest has planted more than 48,000 trees to reduce the city’s tree shortage. By greening the streets of San Francisco, FUF supports the health and livability of the urban environment.