Redwood fans unite for “Take Me to the Trees” celebration

Presidio party raises nearly $800k for redwood forests and 'O Rew Redwoods Gateway

Many people seated around dining tables in the evening inside a decommissioned airplane hangar
Nearly 300 guests filled a historic airplane hangar at the Presidio for Save the Redwoods League’s annual “Take Me to the Trees” fundraising event. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.

As the fog rolled in over San Francisco, nearly 300 guests arrived at the Presidio dressed in fabulous shiny puffers and handknit beanies—a fashionable nod to their shared love for the outdoors. They had come for Save the Redwoods League’s annual redwoods celebration, “Take Me to the Trees,” which brings the redwoods community together to celebrate their collective stewardship and raise funds for the forest.

Four people in puffy jackets and beanies smile for the camera
John Peng, Elizabeth Scott, McKenzie Jordan Rodriguez, and Mark Davis show off their Gorpcore ensembles.  Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.
A family of four poses in Gorpcore fashion
Supporters Mike Grimm, Brigit Grimm, Jessica Grimm, and Kyle Grimm show off camp store swag and collective Gorpcore success. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.

Inside a historic airplane hangar, the atmosphere was spirited and glampy. Guests were invited to visit the camp store, adorn a wishing tree with their favorite redwoods memories, and capture the fun in a photo booth filled with silly props. Maribel Garcia, founder of Decolonized Kitchen, crafted delicious redwood bites and shared her cookbook From Forest To Plate, which provides recipes and Indigenous wisdom highlighting native redwood plants and steps to decolonize our relationship with food. Fogbelt Brewery added the perfect finishing touch with a unique beer infused with redwood tips.

Griff Griffith, Redwoods Rising TikTok star and the host of Animal Planet’s Wild Jobs, kept everyone on their toes as master of ceremonies. And the night concluded in sparkles and style as the crowd hit the dance floor to the sounds of Super Diamond.

A woman stands in front of a table of foods made with plants found in the redwood forest
Maribel Garcia from Decolonized Kitchen shared redwood bites made of native plants found in the redwood forest. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.
Two people wearing flannel write on pieces of paper next to a wish tree.
Bob Berlinson and Ann Berlinson write their wishes for the redwoods before hanging them on the wishing tree. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.

Raising auction paddles to support the ‘O Rew project

Generous community members raised their paddles high to raise an impressive $790,000 towards protecting and restoring California’s redwood forests and connecting all people to their peace and glory. The night’s fundraising highlighted ‘O Rew Redwoods Gateway, a groundbreaking project between partners Save the Redwoods League, the Yurok Tribe, California State Parks, and the National Park Service. This initiative will transfer ownership of the ‘O Rew property to the Yurok Tribe and eventually establish a new Indigenous-owned gateway to Redwood National and State Parks.

A young man stands at a podium
Redwoods Rising apprentice Francisco Saavedra, gives a powerful speech about the importance of tribal land return, inspiring the crowd for the ‘O Rew fund-a-need. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.

The significance of this project, especially for the Yurok people, was conveyed in a moving speech by Francisco Saavedra, Redwoods Rising apprentice and proud member of the Pit River Tribe Madesi Band with Yurok and Salvadoran ancestry. Saavedra spoke poignantly about the importance of centering Indigenous-led conservation as we confront historical injustices and work to heal those wrongs while healing the redwood forests. We extend our gratitude to Saavedra for inspiring an outstanding fund-a-need effort, which raised an impressive $290,000 towards ‘O Rew.

Podcast guests among the “village” of supporters

“Take Me to the Trees” marked a momentous occasion for the League’s I’ll Go If You Go podcast, as several guests connected in person for the first time. Now in its fourth season, the podcast has played a pivotal role in expanding our League community, amplifying diverse voices, and spotlighting emerging leaders in redwood conservation. Be sure to explore the latest season, focused on careers in the redwoods, including insightful episodes with Francisco Saavedra and José Juan Rodriguez, both of whom lent their support to this year’s event.

A group of young people in dressy outdoor gear pose for a photo
Several guests from the League’s podcast, I’ll Go If You Go, met in person for the first time at this year’s event. From left to right, (front) Francisco Saavedra, Maribel Garcia, Leslie Parra, Monica Binetti, (back) Stephen Shaw, José Juan Rodriguez, Griff Griffith, Emily Harwitz, Erin Closmore, Farrahn Hawkins, Miguel Marquez. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.
A group of people pose for a photo in a photobooth
From left to right (front) Leslie Parra, Maribel Garcia, Adrian Fausto, Emily Harwitz, (back) Sara Williams, Sarah Malashock enjoy the redwood-inspired photo booth.
Two people in puffy jackets smile broadly at the camera from the dance floor
Everything is sparkles and Gorpcore as José Juan Rodriguez and Monica Binetti hit the dance floor. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.

This year’s event reminds us that it takes a village to deliver impact-driven conservation. From our supporters and partner agencies to our board and council, staff, and emerging leaders—none of this work would be possible without collaboration. A big thank-you to our presenting sponsor and partner, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria; sponsors Humboldt Distillery and Fogbelt Brewing Company; and this year’s event co-chairs, Mindy Whittington, Kelly Tarapani, and Rich Wendling for their hard work in creating an unforgettable celebration.

Thank you to everyone for making the 2024 “Take Me To The Trees” a night to remember!

evening wear stand on either side
League president Sam Hodder stands with event co-chairs Mindy Whittington and Kelly Tarapani. Together with co-chair Rich Wendling (not pictured), Whittington and Tarapani brought the event to life. Photo by Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography.

About the author

Mary McPheely is the Conservation Programs Associate at Save the Redwoods League. She believes storytelling can build a greater sense of shared responsibility to the environment.

Take Action

Leave a Reply