Connections: Parks, Waterways and Us

I spend most mornings in the summer at a neighborhood park, sometimes San Pablo Park, sometimes Strawberry Creek park. My girls' favorite park used to be the 'train park' (Aquatic Park) because that's where they went with their cousin to play. This year we got to help paddle a dragon boat for the first time in the Berkeley Marina. Every year, we take countless trips to our parks--from Cedar Rose to Tilden, from Willard to Live Oak, from the Prince Parklet to the giant slide and wilderness of Cordorneces, and all around and in between. This is our town, and these green spaces are a huge part of the reason we love it so much.

San Pablo Park, where we spend most of our summer, is home to squirrels and water birds, California Crows and Ravens, junkos and, my favorite, the California Bluebird. There are at least three families of bluebirds nesting in the trees there. If you go early enough on a spring morning you can see them dancing, looking for mates. Because the park resides in the Alcatraz wind corridor, the birds have an easy ride to land in Berkeley. Most of them leave once they've found a mate, but every year we seem to gain one more perennial nest. This is one of the many reasons why we must protect Berkeley's waterfront from overdevelopment. Without these protections, we could lose this important nesting site.

When I was asked to run for office in Berkeley, I first thought about the parks. I have been concerned about the spraying of glyphosate and haven't been able to make much headway in finding out why we are still using it. During the weeks of discernment up to deciding to run I talked with family members and community leaders and elected representatives and all agreed on how important the parks are, how sad it is that they are underfunded, and how unfortunate this is. But--do they love this park, all of these parks, the way I do? Do they know the sound of the song that the doves sing when they are happy, or the one the junkos sing when the Jays and Ravens try to get to their nests? Do they know which squirrels come to visit and chat, and which ones throw walnuts? Do they care that I have to take my children home on spray days so that we don't get sick? Do they care that if they approve that development on Bonar it won't just ruin the train park, but could destroy the lagoon and the birds who are nesting at the other parks in Berkeley when their flight paths are obstructed by parking structures? Do they know the faces of all the kids who dig for worms at Spiral and at the BYA gardens? Do they love the Berkeley I love?

Deciding to run for office was no easy feat. I have a full life, and there are other things that I do that will be set aside or put on hold so that I can represent West Berkeley to the best of my ability. But this town is my place, and I want my children's children to play in the parks that my children play in now. Please join me in protecting Berkeley's Parks and Waterways and all of its living creatures.

Read more about California/Western Bluebirds at All about Birds.