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Alameda man fights climate change with ambitious tree planting initiative

JA: Alameda man fights climate change with ambitious tree planting initiative
JA: Alameda man fights climate change with ambitious tree planting initiative 04:02

ALAMEDA - An Alameda man is leading a fight for climate change that challenges each person to do one thing for the environment: plant a tree.

Amos White isn't just teaching volunteers how to plant a tree. He's sinking roots in an environmental movement.

"We're here as stewards of the earth, stewards of the forest," he said.

White says the first seed of his idea came after the US pulled out of the Paris climate agreement a few years ago. In addition, an alarming report from a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded urgent action was needed to avoid a climate catastrophe.

"That year, in 2019, and after the Global Climate strike that Greta Thunberg had called and led, we said, 'That's the last straw,'" said White.

"And that time, the most single powerful sign of resistance that I could strategize was literally planting a tree."

So, White collaborated with neighbors and started 100K Trees for Humanity.

The goal - plant 100,000 trees in Alameda. One new tree per resident to increase urban forests, restore natural habitat, and reduce the carbon footprint.

"That's what's going to create the movement and give people something, not just hope, but have them put their hands in the soil, to BE the difference for a green future," White said.

In fact, he left his job in tech marketing consulting to work full-time as Chief Planting Officer with 100K Trees.

From its headquarters at the REAP Climate Center in Alameda, 100K Trees is sponsored by the nonprofit Common Vision. Its planting projects have branched into cities like Berkeley, Hayward and Richmond.

Joyce Mercado of the Rotary Club of Alameda said it's partnered with White to plant trees as part of its mission to protect the environment.

"He's very passionate about trees and all the wonderful things that trees provide," Mercado said. "We're protecting the climate. I feel really good about that, that's a personal passion of mine."

And Danner Doud-Martin, Director of Haas Campus Sustainability at UC Berkeley's business school said White has taught its staff and students to plant hundreds of trees in the East Bay's undeserved communities.

"It will be a ripple effect because our schools will go off being CEOs and really involved in business and they'll have this impact they'll take with them," she said.

White also serves on the Alameda County Agricultural Advisory Committee as urban ag chair, and on CALFIRE's Urban Forestry Advisory Committee. White is grateful the environmental movement is sprouting.

He's even getting interest from other states and as far as away as England.

"They're not just doing it because it's Earth Day or it's good to plant a tree. They're connecting with the principles of trees ARE what bring us life," he said.

So for inspiring people to plant trees for climate change, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Amos White.

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