Alternative Spring Break in the Bay Area
by Jean Bartholomew
What a day! It was so exciting to see so many people come out to the kick-off event for HeART This City.
We started out the day bright and early at 7am to begin setting up for the day’s activities. I got to work preparing my domain – the registration table. We adorned it with our sweet limited-edition t-shirts, water bottles, SCA sunglasses, and breakfast. Meanwhile, my compadres began prepping the timber for planter box construction.
Our volunteers arrived in droves starting at 10am. I had nonstop registration traffic for about an hour! It was crazy and energetic. I loved the energy and excitement of all the volunteers. Once we did a quick introduction, we all headed out on our way to different projects. Volunteers dispersed to build planter boxes, paint, clean around the building, and plant, mulch, and weed.
SCA Leader Teamer Marvin Valdez preps planter boxes.
I took a deep breath and drink of water and led 25 volunteers into Golden Gate Park to work near Alvord Lake, spreading mulch and weeding planters. My group split up into three to fill a truck with mulch, spread mulch, and weed planters along the bike path. Immediately, visitors to the park began thanking us as we worked. One man said the mulch was especially needed because “it’s gotten so dusty around these trees. It used to be so pretty. This will be great!” We even got a few thumbs up from people on tour buses as they yelled “Thank you!” to us.
Prettifying the Park Aid Station entrance with native plant in giant pots.
One of my favorite parts of service events is connecting with volunteers. I was working alongside a group of women and discovered to my delight that they were all from Switzerland! I lived in Switzerland for a year, and it was great talking about their country and how rewarding it is to learn another language.
Right before lunch, we regrouped with everyone from the event and got to hear from the speakers. They did a great job motivating us, and articulating the importance of not only conservation work, but urban conservation. Phil Ginsberg, the General Manager of SF Recreation and Parks, was especially inspiring to me. He spoke of the need to protect urban greenspaces, to help the environment and give people a connection to nature within cities.
Christopher Campbell speaking on the history of Golden Gate Park.
After lunch, we headed back to our projects, completing them with enthusiasm. I spoke with an SCA alum Amanda Botsford, who said she came out to the event because she remembered how transformative her SCA experience was and she wanted to reconnect with SCA.
At the end of the day, we headed back over to the Park Aid Station. I was so impressed to see volunteers working past 4pm to ensure the planter boxes were completed. The SCA members from Oakland and Menlo Park stayed until the end and were a huge help cleaning up. It was awesome to see them in action! They embodied the spirit of volunteerism, and reminded me why I love working with SCA members.
Volunteers stenciled it up on the last section of Chor Boogie’s #HeARTthisCity San Francisco mural.
Photos: Kara Conner
Next Heart This City event: April 5, New Orleans