By Paula White
There was a holiday mood in the air at our Earth Day events this year—perhaps because of the sunshine after a rainy winter and the profusion of plants and pollinators we’re seeing at our newly planted bioswales. We had nearly 300 volunteers helping us fulfill our mission to improve the health of our watersheds. We kicked off the Earth Day season by putting some plants in the ground at our bioswale near 17th and Ohio on the Richmond Greenway. These beautiful and hardworking plants filter pollutants from stormwater, improve air quality and provide habitat for pollinators.
The next Saturday, April 20, we showed the earth some love by cleaning up Wildcat Creek in North Richmond and the Albany Beach and Bulb. We had a small but mighty crew of intrepid volunteers in North Richmond who donned boots and gloves and went to work. Altogether we hauled out 72 bags of trash and another couple of truck loads of debris including 8 tires, several car parts, and some stray luggage. Thanks to all of the volunteers who rolled up their sleeves, braved the mud, and helped make Wildcat Creek a nicer place for all of us earthlings.
The festivities continued at the North Richmond Earth Day festival at the Shields-Reid Center where Mother Earth was celebrated by live dancers in full costume, the Richmond High School band, and kids painting valentines to her. The Watershed Project demoed a new watershed model created by UC Berkeley Engineering students that featured green infrastructure elements. We also talked to North Richmond residents about water-related concerns and what we need to do to protect the community from sea level rise impacts.
Over in Albany we had scout troops, students, and families sift through sand and rubble for bits of plastic and other flotsam and jetsam that wash up on the beach. There was a scavenger hunt and a most unusual item contest. This year’s winner found an old Etch-a-Sketch and won a bowling party from Albany Bowl. We are grateful to the many businesses who donated food and prizes for the event and thank all the volunteers who brought their own buckets and reusable water bottles to help make this a waste-free event.
It was gratifying to see so many happy and energetic people coming out to celebrate Earth Day with us and we hope to see you again at our upcoming events.