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Our Project

 The Growing Oaks project entails collecting acorns from Oregon Oaks and growing them into saplings to be planted around Willamette’s campus, the Zena property, as well as public and private properties around Salem. The project itself is extremely well-rounded with interests in student research, political actions to aid the oaks, forming connections with communities and people local to this area, as well as connecting with the original stewards of the land, which is represented today by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and Siletz Indians. It is funded by the Willamette University Community Action Fund for Equity and Sustainability (CAFES) committee.

who we are

This project is funded by Willamette University's Community Action Fund for Equity and Sustainability (CAFES) committee. The CAFES committee aims to provide financial support to various projects and programs advancing sustainability, equity, and social justice within our campus and community. This program was established at Willamette in 2014 when undergraduates students voted in a referendum to create an optional fee of $25 per semester. The optional fee makes up the committee's budget to fund projects that target social justice, equity, and the environment. The CAFES committee's main mission is to support empowering students who are trying to make positive contributions to the Willamette community and the greater Salem area. To learn more about CAFES click here.

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What We Do

From the brutal police shootings of black men and women to the vandalism and killings of Asian Americans to the epidemic of missing and murdered Native American women and girls, the BIPOC community has faced many heartbreaking and horrendous acts of violence in the past year. Willamette University is home to a diverse population of students who care about and are actively searching for more ways to be supportive of the BIPOC community. Many students and staff have been actively involved in speaking out about the harsh realities the BIPOC community has faced recently and connecting current violence to multi-generational and institutional racism embedded in our society. Internationally, there have been many institutions that have turned to tree planting as a way to reconcile histories of violence with local communities.​

Our project aims to promote tree planting and the care of trees as an act of reconciliation that acknowledges the mistreatment of our BIPOC members in the present and past. In this initial step towards reconciliation, we choose to focus on the cultivation of Oregon White Oaks because of their significance in the culture of the Kalapuya people, now represented by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, who are the original stewards of the Willamette Valley and our campus grounds. This project would also bring awareness to Oregonians about this important keystone species that is rapidly disappearing. Large old complex oaks like those in the Sparks Parking lot are keystones of healthy Willamette Valley ecosystems and these legacy trees are rapidly disappearing because of commercial development of the historical oak savanna landscapes. Not only can we bring awareness to students at Willamette, but there is potential for sharing this information with the community and people of Salem. The students can directly benefit from this project because they can learn about the ecological, cultural, and historical importance of the Oregon White Oak. 

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about the nature of our project, please feel free to read the full CAFES project proposal that was written. The full proposal contains an in-depth explanation of our project, as well as our detailed plans for implementation. 

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