In 2017, The Watershed Project will be celebrating our 20 year anniversary. Leading up to this monumental event, we have been reflecting on our past, present, and future. Our Executive Director, Juliana Gonzalez, recently sat down with Karen Thurman of On Your Doorstep Magazine. Thurman recently launched this brand new digital publication that is focused on celebrating nature through art. She aims to share the “good news” stories about work being done to restore our environment. Produced by Gaia Guardians, the first edition turned out to be an inspiring and beautiful work of art. Below is an excerpt of the interview. Follow this link to read the full article.
Karen: Why watersheds, rather than any other environmental problem?
Juliana: Watersheds are the most holistic way of looking at all of our environmental problems. We all live in a watershed. A watershed describes where rainwater flows. It includes waterways such as rivers, creeks, lakes, reservoirs, the Bay and the ocean. At the same time, the land that we live on is a part of a watershed. Green spaces such as the forests, prairies, and marshes are in our watershed, but so are the cities that include our roads, sidewalks, and houses.
A watershed-approach goes to the core of how, as a society, we see water as a valued resource. Water flows through the land shaping valleys and ridges making its way into the San Francisco Bay. Water entering the San Francisco Bay Watersheds, from rain or pipes, not only serves our utility companies, for aqueducts and irrigation systems, but that water also serves as an important element of how our natural ecosystem functions, the natural ecosystem in which we live and share with other species. There is nature in the urban ecosystem, and all of us very much depend on those water resources that flow though the land, as well as under it.
Watersheds are like the circulatory system of our planet and each small watershed is part of a bigger watershed, so we are all connected through water.
Karen: Is there a significant breakthrough or achievement that you’re especially proud of?
Juliana: We are very proud of our interns and volunteers as many of them have taken on projects of their own and have chosen to devote their lives to the cause of restoring the environment. We are proud of the great projects we have built with thousands of little and big hands including our first community-built oyster reef out of Point Pinole, the necklace of a dozen rain gardens and bioswales we have planted with neighbors and volunteers along the Richmond Greenway, and the two schools we have led to become Zero Waste in the West Contra Costa County Unified school district.
We are proud of all the teachers that even today, years after their training; use our Kids in Creeks, Kids in Marshes and Kids in Gardens curricula. We are proud of the PTAs that help continue our zero waste schools program after our intervention ends. We are proud of all the teachers that continue to partner with us year after year, and have synced their curriculum to ours to make our environmental science education relevant to their students’ learning experiences.
We are proud of the thousands of volunteers that after a creek or shoreline cleanup pledge to reduce their trash footprint and understand the connection of litter to clean oceans. We are proud of our determination to help the most under privileged neighborhoods. We are proud of all the kids and adults that after one of our programs can tell you what a watershed is and why we should protect them. As we approach our 20 year anniversary next year, we are proud to have interacted in a meaningful, transformative and educational way with over 100,000 people that we know feel more connected to their watersheds and are ready to become actors of change to help make this a green and healthy San Francisco Bay Watershed.
Read on to learn more about the last 20 years of The Watershed Project and our future work!