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Urban Tree Connection
Urban Tree Connection (UTC) has received $455,000 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) since 2013, including its most recent grant of $55,000 from the 2020-2021 grants cycle.
The problem with Urban Tree Connection is that it is actively engaged with and promotes the Party for Socialism and Liberation, has organizational values reflecting Marxist ideals, and its executive director is a Marxist.
Urban Tree’s executive director is Noelle Warford (nee Velan).
In 2017, she talked about the Left Roots Leap campaign, hoping to meet the campaign’s $100,000 goal. In the post she tagged her husband/partner (it’s unclear what the nature of the relationship is) Rapheal Randall, saying that she is “increasing my capacity to come out (UNAPOLOGETICALLY) as a Marxist/Socialist, speaking from an an intimate space about why Rapheal Randall and I believe in this work.”
Noelle Velan’s facebook page is locked up, but her husband/partner is still fairly active in his promotion of outright communism.
To establish the relationship between the two, just to make it clear that this is an intimate relationship, on October 29, 2021, Randall posted his farewell speech to Youth United for Change, and in it, he referred to Noelle as his “partner,” closing his remarks to her by saying, “I love you.” On September 14, 2022, Randall posted a photo of him with Noelle.
Randall’s photos on facebook are filled with the promotion of outright Communism, and while these posts and images are not Noelle’s, given the nature of the relationship between the two of them, and her own post about being a Marxist/Socialist, there is no reason NOT to believe that these posts reflect a shared ideology.
On August 24, 2022, Randall posted an image with a hammer and sickle (the symbol of Soviet communism) with the words, “Keep Calm and Seize the Means of Production.”
On October 27, 2021, Randall posted an image of the Soviet and American flags waving together with the words, “For a Happy, Prosperous America.”
On March 24, 2020, Randall posted an image of Karl Marx and a quote from Marx about critical theory.
The point here is to establish a possible explanation for what we are going to reveal next, which is the working relationship between Urban Tree Connection and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
On July 22, 2022, UTC promoted an event being held by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a thoroughly Marxist organization, echoing Marxist talking points saying:
“This Summer the Philadelphia Liberation Center (the Philly branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation) will be running several Block Parties throughout the city. The events are a chance for working class communities to come together and find unity, solidarity and joy in the working-class struggle.”
At the end of the post, UTC encouraged donations to the Party for Liberation and Socialism, linking to its GoFundMe campaign.
On August 1, 2022, Urban Tree posted an advertisement for the PSL block party, showing both PSL’s logo along with Urban Tree’s, indicating that it is a joint effort.
On August 10, 2022, Urban Tree posted an image and quote from Michaela Kay, a lead organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, saying, “The Party of Socialism and Liberation’s (PSL) daily reflection on Black August has been a great reminder of why this work is important.”
On August 31, Urban Tree Connection again posted a message from the Party for Socialism and Liberation saying, “this quote is a great reminder that the fight for liberation and freedom of others and ourselves remains constant no matter the time of year.”
Given what we’ve discovered regarding UTC’s connections with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the professed Marxist/Socialism of its executive director, we can now come to understand one of the stated organizational values of Urban Tree Connection as expressed in its “Who We Are & What We Are About” document. Article II of the document is “Our Organizational Values,” and point two of these values is:
“Solidarity: We are part of a greater, global social movement and ecosystem. We stand with other like-minded organizations, formations and people fighting against the destructive forces that are hetero-patriarchy, racism and capitalism.”
The term “hetero-patriarchy” is commonly used to refer to any Father-centered ideology that stands against LGBTQ ideologies. And the bold statement against “capitalism” gives rise to the corollary … UTC stands for Socialism. And given its leadership and relationship with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, this appears very much to be the case.
Urban Tree Connection is a Marxist organization espousing Marxist ideologies, which are completely and thoroughly condemned by the Catholic Church. This organization should never have been considered for a grant to begin with.