Dropping nuclear bombs? No, just giving an estuary some love.

Teams from Save The Bay, Marin Parks, One Tam and individuals came together for National Estuaries Week to show an estuary some love.

Teams from Save The Bay, Marin County Parks, One Tam and individuals like me, came together for National Estuaries Week to show an estuary some love.

I walked into class a half hour early – there was no one around and it was eerie. Usually there is always someone there but it was just me and the rocks and minerals. They surrounded me behind glass encasements and joined me in my solitude in an 80 year-old science lab classroom that looks like a perfect stage set for a movie. It was last Wednesday – a monumental day when the Pope visited Congress to express his concern about poverty and climate change.

Transmute fear to fuel change for the better

Breaking the silence, a fellow classmate sat down behind me. I greeted him and we started talking. Some how it led to his concern about the current state of affairs of the planet, how evil is seemingly reigning, and his fears that a nuclear bomb might be dropped somewhere on it. I chimed in that while we really don’t know what is going to happen in the future, in my heart of hearts I don’t think a nuclear bomb will be our fate. My logic interrupts fatalistic thinking – that of course the powers at large know that if a nuclear bomb is dropped in one part of the world, it will have an adverse effect for all of humanity in one way or another. I just hope this logic is shared.

Last Wednesday on the 23rd of September, seemed like the death for the rebirth... deep thoughts, Pope visit and a dramatic sky when I left the Science Hall. This is a view looking west toward the Pacific Ocean.

Last Wednesday on the 23rd of September, seemed like the death for the rebirth… deep thoughts, Pope visiting Congress, and a dramatic sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

I think this young man’s fears represents the fear of many. I shared with him that while just as much seems to be falling apart, there is just as much coming together, rebuilding and restoring occurring in the world. It is just difficult to see it objectively because we’re in it. Perspective is everything. I also shared about how I perceive the planet as being extreme right now: we are all witnessing really horrible -and- heartwarming and positive stories concurrently and not much in between. There is this polarity of good and bad, with the pendulum swinging in the space in between. The pendulum is finding a new balance in the aftermath of the true “bomb” that has been the extreme advancement in technology and the information age in under 50 years.

The mere fact that this young man was acknowledging his fear, is a step in making change. By him being in observance of his fear and the breakdown of the world, he is not a part of it. Perhaps this brand of fear and being in observance, is what encourages individuals to find their role in helping to make a positive impact for the future of the planet. I believe many are being faced with what side of the fence they reside on: the sleeping side where fear hangs out, or the side where fear blasts them into being an active participant in rebalancing the ills of earth. Either we can choose to be dragged down by fear and powerlessness, or we can transmute it, stepping into a place of love and compassion for earth and humanity.

Community joined together to give an estuary some love

Team work, pulling together to restore a Marin County estuary.

Team work, pulling together to restore a Marin County estuary.

There is proof that coming together, rebuilding and restoration is here! I witnessed it first hand this morning. Three organizations came together to help restore an estuary at Creekside Park in Corte Madera in Marin County. In honor of National Estuaries Week, Save The BayMarin County Parks and One Tam, joined up to prepare the land to reintroduce native plants. There were close to twenty people sweating it out in the sun, laying down straw, cardboard and wood chips as weed abatement for the native plants to be sown in coming months. It was a day like today that makes me feel like there is absolutely nothing wrong in the world. Not only was it a great day being out in nature, I was surrounded by like-minded people, passionate about the same things I am.

The third layer before the final wood chip layer. In the background is what the area will look like in a year - grown with with native plant species.

The third layer before the final wood chip layer. In the background is what the area will look like in a year – grown with with native plant species.

Sorry weeds, it’s the natives turn… I learned a lot about weed abatement thanks to Kirk Schroeder of Marin County Parks: First, a thick layer of straw was placed down on the ground, then two layers of cardboard, then another layer of straw, and finally, a layer of wood chips on top. It was a “Fort Knox” blanket of materials to keep weeds down, which ultimately saves time and money in landscape maintenance later. But the most important aspect of the “blanket”, is that it encourages the native plant species to thrive, without the weeds being in competition. In the months to come, the area will be landscaped with a variety of native species including Goldenrod, California sage, California buckwheat, yarrow, sticky monkeyflower, coyote brush, coffeeberry, marsh baccharis and beeplant. Who came up with these names? I’d like some coffeeberry with a little sticky monkeyflower on the side. Anyway, the reintroduction of these plants will provide a more expanded habitat for the wildlife and the birds that call the Bay Area home on their migratory journeys.

San Francisco Bay Area – An Ecological Hot Spot

Creekside Park, Corte Madera estuary.

Creekside Park, Corte Madera estuary in Marin County.

The San Francisco Bay Area gets all kinds of attention and fanfare for being an epicenter of arts and culture hipness but really, it is misdirected. The true lively jet-setting originators are the wildlife! Their parties include fabulous California fine dining cuisine and dating with beautiful views – to a great deal of romantic affairs and nesting. Silliness aside, the Bay is the second largest and one of the most ecologically important estuaries in North America for wildlife, due to the pleasant climate, calm estuaries for reproduction and abundant nutrients. Sixteen-hundred square miles of the Bay Area is home to millions of birds on their migratory path up and down the Pacific Coast, as well as, home to many endangered species. Now who is the true source of what makes the Bay Area a “hot spot” for way longer than humanity?

However, since the gold rush of the 1850s and the human population encroachment on the Bay Area, there has been devastating affects on the environmental health of the estuaries including the loss of fish diversity and spawning grounds, toxic contaminants and the introduction of exotic species that outcompete native plants and animals. While this sounds highly disappointing, there are incredible Bay Area organizations working to restore the wetlands such as the groups I joined up with today. A recent report states there has been great improvements for the Bay [article].

Historical and modern Baylands - a poster displayed at today's restoration project.

Historical and modern Baylands – a poster displayed at the restoration project. Click to enlarge.

Love and compassion conquers all

Team work, pulling together to restore a Marin County estuary.

Team work, pulling together to restore a Marin County estuary.

Just like how humans have the ability to overcome disease on a micro scale, so does the planet on a macro scale. We have all personally witnessed it to varying degrees and circumstances. While we might feel that we and the planet are aging, getting tired, tattered and torn and fearful of the future, there is nothing stopping us from doing our part every day to help restore balance, both for ourselves and for the collective. I believe humanity is at a precipice, where we have the choice as individuals to stay asleep, stay in fear and fall off the cliff, or glide gracefully to solid ground. Every single person contributing their little bit, has the power to make great change for the collective even if it’s just tossing straw on the ground on a Saturday morning. It is just a matter of choosing what is important to you – whether it be social, political and/or environmental issues and then getting active and participating. The more our consciousness dwells on what is positive, the more of that will grow.

I will close with this documentary by Collective Evolution, entitled, “The Shift”. It is a testament to the power of the collective mind of humanity, and how things are changing because of it. It is very inspiring. Your feedback, thoughts, criticisms and/or support is welcomed – feel free to comment below!

Also, watch, “The Bay Area Wetlands” by SF State student, Latour for Save The Bay.


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