The Trees 4 Life documentary film was premiered at United Roots on June 28th as part of S.O.S. Juice community event. The Trees 4 Life project was launched in February 2012 to promote community healing through environmental stewardship, while also giving youth job training and skills in the media arts. This project was developed by United Roots with Mira Manickam as part of the Together Green Audubon Fellowship with additional funding from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr., Foundation. Trees 4 Life was a collaboration with Growing a Global Heart, Urban ReleafGrind for the Green, and Urban Peace Movement. United Roots and Mira Manickam, with support from Zakiya Harris of Grind for the Green, hired 8 youth ages 18-24 as paid-interns to learn urban forestry skills and facilitate tree planting projects in Oakland, California. Trees 4 Life participants received training through Urban Releaf’s UFEST program (urban forest education & stewardship training program) through the Director of Education, Dr. Gregory Tarver, Jr. The UFEST program is funded through The CA Dept of Forestry & Fire Protection & U.S. Forest Service’s Urban & Community Forestry Programs.

The Trees 4 Life memorial tree planting vision was inspired by Growing a Global Heart’s core work (Belvie Rooks & Dedan Gills) and their team was a key partner in the tree planting ritual that took place at Jungle Hill Park in East Oakland on April 28th, 2012. The ceremony was opened by Luta Candelaria of the Ohlone Nation, with a special performance by Double L Girls Lena Cliett & Laren Blakely. Growing a Global Heart team members Susan Lambert and Steve Uzzell photographed both the opening and closing Trees 4 Life events (their photos are showcased in the following short film).

As part of the collaborative Trees 4 Life project United Roots offered video production support so that youth could share with the world their vision of community healing and environmental stewardship. The Trees 4 Life documentary film includes interviews with some of the Trees 4 Life youth organizers, Eric “E da Ref” Hunter, Brenden Foster and Napolean Samad. The film was edited by United Roots youth video producer Luis “L’nino” Montoya, and includes footage of the Trees 4 Life program that took place in Oakland, California, from February 2012 through April 2012. The Trees 4 Life theme song featured in the film was produced at United Roots by Du Damage, featuring Trees 4 Life organizers E da Ref, Mira Manickam, Napolean Samad and Brenden Foster performing lyrical poetry and song. Click the link below to watch the Trees 4 Life documentary film:

For more information about the Trees 4 Life Project email:

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The Trees 4 Life Youth Crew

From left to Right: Eric Hunter, Catherine Saephan, Eunique James, Napolean Samad, Brenden Foster & Egypt Claxton with Youth Crew Leaders Gregory Tarver & Mira Manickam kneeling in front.
(Note: Christian Ramirez & Alante Chavarin, not featured in the above photo, were also Trees 4 Life youth crew members. Also not included in the photo are the core adult organizers and trainers of Trees 4 Life, including but not limited to Belvie Rooks & Dedan Gills of the Growing a Global Heart team, Joanne Do & Kemba Shakur of the Urban ReLeaf crew, and Trees 4 Life Project Co-Manager Galen Peterson from United Roots.)

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