by Molly Lundberg
Today was the first day of work. After a night spent singing around the campfire, the crew was eager for the hard labor. However, they first had to wait a bit longer, and decided to play a game. Leaping into each other’s arms to the tune of “Row, Row, Row your Boat” drew some interesting glances from passersby.
The morning was spent learning plant salvaging techniques that would be applied for the rest of the week. The crew donned their new, shvanky, neon-tangerine vests proclaiming their status as VIP’s (volunteers in park).
Lunch on the rim of the canyon with Alison, a park geologist, was highlighted by a summary of the basic geology of the area. She came equipped with a life-size condor model, a geologic timeline of the earth, and a passion for the fifth dimension of the canyon (that is, the spiritual significance that the canyon brings to the individual beholding it).
After lunch, the crew continued rescuing pinon, juniper, cliffrose, yucca, and many others. The volunteers saw their efforts come to fruition when all the rescued plants were gathered together. The field was covered with pots and flats of salvaged plants, ready to be reintroduced to their new, safer habitat. At day’s end, some crew members were fortunate enough to see one of the fabled condors soaring high above the canyon.
The crew’s accolades on this sunny day are surely a sign of good things to come.
For some, spring break begins with moving into a posh hotel room in Florida and settling in for a week of tanning- but for the SCA spring break group, it began with a late-night arrival at our campground, fumbling around in the dark introducing themselves to people they couldn’t even see. The first-night dinner, sesame noodles with tofu or chicken, was amazing. But the freezing toes, hand washing in ice-cold water, and late-night serenade by wild coyotes, doubtlessly made some wonder why they hadn’t chosen the beach.
But the next day, after team-building games that thawed their toes, they made the trek to the grand canyon- and it became evident why they were all there. Thoughts ranged from “this ain’t real” to “it’s too big to comprehend.” All agreed that it looked like a picture. The group got introduced to the rim’s ecology through a plant walk, reveling in learning the names of mutton grass and ponderosa pine like the environmental geeks they are. A trip to the greenhouse introduced them to the work they’ll be doing for the week. All feel humbled and grateful to be part of this project, getting to know this magnificent place, and are looking forward to getting to work tomorrow.
Stay tuned for photos as soon as the internet connection gods smile on us.
By Molly Lundberg, Sam Keller, and Rebecca Pike
The Alternative Spring Break program got off to a wonderful start on March 8th when staff arrived at the Grand Canyon. The drive up (literally) from Phoenix offered a wonderful example of how diverse the state of Arizona is in elevation and, therefore, weather and vegetation.
Everyone’s preconceived notion of the Grand Canyon was of a well staffed visitor’s park and a breathtaking canyon. What was not expected was the residential community of nearly 2000 people. An extended tour through the park’s road system uncovers residential homes, a school and library. It makes one wonder to think how it would feel to grow up and live in a place like the Grand Canyon National Park.
The first week of the ASB program is being spent on preparation for the 60 members who will be coming over the next two weeks. The kitchen coordinator, Emily Coulter, has been working on menu plans and kitchen organization. Sam Keller and Molly Lundberg, the crew leaders, have been getting to know that park, the future work sites and camp organization. The program coordinator, Rebecca Pike, arrived early and has filled in all the gaps. She is working hard on everything from site set-up, work plans, member travel matrices to photographing and measuring the inside of park shuttles.
The SCA staff has hit the ground running, fast! As the giant kitchen tent was erected and our base camp started to take shape the excitement for Alternative Spring Break has grown. The staff is working diligently and awaiting the arrival of our first batch of 30 members. The Grand Canyon, however, is quietly eroding, unaware of the impact that 60 dedicated college students are about to make.