Happy New Year from Theodore Payne Foundation! 2023 was a big year for us, and we are very excited for what 2024 has in store. The beginning of the New Year is always a good time for reflection and path setting (and those resolutions, which I hope we all stick to!) With that in mind, it’s a good time for me to share some of our longer ranging goals, and how those fit into our plans for the coming year.

One of our biggest goals for 2024 is to update TPFs strategic plan. Our current strategic framework, which was completed by staff, board and stakeholders in 2017, and reassessed and reapproved by board and staff in 2021, provides the roadmap for the work we do. The primary goals of this plan are the goal posts that we use to approach our work. They are to:

  • Normalize native plant landscapes
  • Engage and educate a larger and more diverse audience
  • Increase the presence of TPF and native plants throughout our geographic region
  • Expand our influence on the landscape industry
  • Influence public policy and practice

These are open ended goals, which provide the necessary latitude for approaching the complexity of our mission, in a rapidly changing time. I’m always struck by how our mission, (to inspire and educate Southern Californians about the beauty and ecological benefits of California native plants,) seems rather straightforward but comes with such intricate navigational possibilities. Doing things in the real world is complicated, especially when those things go against the grain of long established practices, tastes, and cultural histories that dominate the landscapes of our built environment.

Our upcoming strategic planning process will allow us to evaluate the pillars that hold up TPF, and dig into more detail on how we operationalize our goals to continue pushing for the transition to low water, high ecological value landscapes in Southern California. In the coming weeks, I will begin working with our board to develop a timeline for creating this new plan. Though we are still in the early phases of this plan, and will be discussing its scope and level of detail, I’m excited to embark on creating a new road map for the coming years at TPF.

This comes at an important moment of growth for the native plant movement, and TPF specifically. In the past four years, we’ve grown considerably, nearly doubling our pre pandemic revenues, and engaging in a greatly increased scope of work. This was driven by wide ranging shifts in public perception relating to the landscape industry, and its environmental impacts and opportunities. The hard work and passionate dedication of our staff, board, volunteers, along with support of our members, donors, customers and colleagues across the region, were instrumental in growing this vision. Many thanks to all who have made this possible. Together, we are making real, tangible progress towards a more sustainable environmental future.

I’m so happy to see these changes: the constant flow of articles from major publications highlighting the importance of native plants, the deep and genuine interest from the public about these issues, and the growth of many peer organizations, businesses and environmental advocates that are deepening the interconnectedness, resilience and vibrancy of a long established ecosystem of cultural change makers.

As 2024 unfolds, we’ll be taking stock of all of this progress and change, and plotting our course for this year and beyond. My hope is that the growth we’re seeing in the native plant movement will continue, (and accelerate!,) and that native plant landscapes will become the norm in the towns and cities of Southern California. Happy New Year!