Dear Watershed Project Supporters and Community Partners,
Linda Hunter has decided to transition out of her role as the Executive Director of The Watershed Project. The Board of The Watershed Project thanks her for the keen leadership, passion and dedication she has provided the organization for over seven years.
Over the last five months we have been working as a transition team to refine the focus of the organization and right-size it for its future endeavors. Thanks again to Linda for supporting the transition and supporting our Interim Executive Director, Juliana Gonzalez. Many of you know Juliana through her work in our education programs, restoration efforts, and coastal clean-up leadership. She is poised, ready and focused to grow the organization.
We wish Linda all the best in her next endeavors and look forward to partnering with Juliana and The Watershed Project Staff and Volunteers.
All our best,
After seven years at the helm of The Watershed Project, it is time to say Adieu. I am so very proud of our accomplishments. From a struggling nonprofit with a limited range of programs to a unique and inspiring organization with so many things that make me proud.
From a “shower idea” — you know, one of those great ideas that come to you when you’re in the shower, was born the Richmond Bioswale, a dry creek installed at a park in Richmond that slowed the flow of rainwater — allowing it to penetrate and soak into the ground rather than rush into the storm drain bringing legacy pollutants and trash into the Bay and Ocean. This was the first of many achievements of our community driven program that focuses on Low Impact Design strategies in order to let water go where it wants to go (into the ground!), recharging groundwater and greening our urban lives.
We also managed the Oakland Rainbarrel Program that allowed Oakland residents to capture rainwater rather than risk further erosion and overburden to urban creeks. The initiative provided educational workshops, green job training for youth and interns and epic rainwater loving, and cistern demonstration projects including Chabot Space and Science Center, Skyline High School and Merritt College. The program kept 400,000 gallons of rainwater from flushing into creeks or storm drains.
The Watershed Project successfully turned our local celebrations of Martin Luther King Day of Service, Earth Day and Coastal Cleanup Day from a service day of shoreline and creek cleanups into major events that educate the public about the dangers of marine debris and plastic in the marine environment. We now engage thousands of volunteers each year and the message is becoming clear. A plastic juice box scooped up from the sidewalk while you’re out for a stroll and put safely into the trash will keep it out of the marine debris stream. Most participants in our Major Volunteer events now know that The Pacific Garbage Patch — the ever-accumulating amount of plastic in our ocean — is directly affected by those who choose to refuse, who reuse and recycle and thus put a stop to all the “stuff” in our lives that often end up in our watersheds. People are beginning to understand that there is no “away” where we can throw things after we have used them and they are making change in their communities, their schools and their homes to stop the scourge of plastic pollution.
Along with adult volunteers and students, we built the very first Community-Built Native Oyster Reef in our Bay at Point Pinole. By organizing a small army of volunteers, The Watershed Project built artificial reef balls out of BayCrete — a combination of cement and crushed oyster shell. 100 reef balls were deployed to a chosen sport where native oyster recruitment looked promising. Oysters need a place to hang their “hat”. When they are born, they swim around through the water column for a time, looking for a place to settle. Other oysters are their favorite hangouts and our oysters now have a place to call home! So exciting that they have begun their work as ecosystem engineers — providing habitat for many other critters and filtering water.
Lastly, I can’t describe how much it means to me to continue to hear from those whom I have had the pleasure of mentoring. To the young woman who changed her life plans in order to “be like me” and is now a successful lobbyist for the environment in Washington DC, to others who have made their life work advancing environmental policy with a focus on sustainability, and many, many others who, whenever I hear from you about your crucial work, my heart soars! We need you in this movement. We need you more than ever and your endeavors and your passion give me hope.
Thank you to all of my friends, family and those special people (you know who you are) who have been my sounding board, my inspiration. Thank you for always supporting my causes and shower ideas with your encouragement and your own hard earned cash — even when I kept asking.
I am leaving The Watershed Project but I’m not going away!
I am taking some much-needed time off for a few weeks but will be back doing my best to save the planet straight away. Stay tuned!
I leave The Watershed Project in the capable hands of Juliana Gonzalez.
Thanks for your support and for all the oysters too!