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Storied: San Francisco

May 16, 2023

​Friends of the Urban Forest exists on the premise that there are "no trees in San Francisco." That of course isn't the literal truth. But we'll get to that.

In Part 1 of our episode on FUF, we sit down with Tree Planting Program Manager Zeima Kassahun and Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier to chat about the non-profit's 42-year history of making San Francisco greener. We learn a little about Zeima and Brian's lives, where they're from, how they ended up moving to The City, and what brought them to FUF.

Then Brian and Zeima talk about the history of Friends of the Urban Forest. This conversation includes the fact that, upon colonization of San Francisco, there were very few trees, most of which were located in and around the no-longer-existent Mission Bay. We work our way up through industrialization, urbanization, and the advent of car culture to set the stage for what a group of neighbors and friends were up against when they founded FUF in 1981.

Please join us for Part 2 next week, when we'll dive deeper into San Francisco's need for more canopy cover and what Friends of the Urban Forest, with its 40-ish staffers and hundreds of volunteers, is doing to bring that about.

​We recorded this podcast in April 2023 at the FUF office in the Presidio.

Photography by Jeff Hunt