View from the Top — from the Executive Director

Thursday
Apr242014

Remembering the Earth

I haven’t much paid attention to Earth Day for a number of years, though I am usually involved in a weekend habitat restoration event loosely tied to the date.  But Earth Day lost its real magic for me years ago when it became “incorporated” into popular corporate culture.  The “green” cloak that some businesses don as Earth Day sponsorship is a thinly veiled ploy to misdirect and mislead people about the nature of their true intentions. 

In other companies, leaders may have true concerns about the rapid destruction of the environment.  Yet even they can’t seem to help themselves when environmental issues get in the way of business.  Corporations are chartered to make money, and their captains often work for profit and to create for themselves a very comfortable and powerful lifestyle.  When push comes to shove, they work hard and spare no expense to get environmental concerns brushed aside if they stand in the way of “progress.”

Governmental agencies and civic administrations easily fall prey to idolizing the gods of economic growth.  After all, they are charged with the welfare of the citizens in the town or county they serve. That welfare often translates into getting more money in the coffers.  This money, however, is often earned at the expense of exploiting the environment, the people, or both. True sustainability is apparently not compatible with the “growth” that is required in our current economic system.

With so much power and money stacked on the side of “economic growth,” environmental destruction goes on unabated, even to the point of permanently damaging our climate.  The effect of this rampant growth mentality kills people, causes wars, destroys property and livelihoods, pollutes the very air we breathe and the water we drink – and will ultimately make our planet uninhabitable for us.

Some people wring their hands, but keep supporting run away economic growth. Under capitalism, this growth represents the best chance for “the good life” that drives the desires of so many.  That is why we continue to put up with an economic system that collapses every few years while destroying the earth and increasingly impoverishing most of the people it supposedly serves.

In my view, another economic system has to evolve quickly if we are to survive.  Some economists have begun to write about economic systems based on a different set of values: Recognition of the interdependent nature of life; Concern for the welfare of all others; and Protection the common heritage of all life.  Clean air. Clean water.  Clean soil. Complete, functioning ecosystems. 

Remember the Earth?  She is our Mother.

Sunday
Mar092014

Spring 2014 Newsletter

A must-read for Mountain Watchers - full of articles touching on and updating our important programs.

Go to our Spring 2014 Newsletter

Thursday
Dec122013

Education Program Expands with Funding

In November, San Bruno Mountain Watch received a $36,000 grant from the Packard Foundation to expand our education program.  This will allow us to build upon our successful 6th grade program at Lipman Middle School.  Our goal is to also establish a 6th grade environmental education program at Robertson Intermediate School, and to begin 7th grade programs in both schools.  Longer range, we hope to bring San Bruno Mountain-based environmental education to several schools around the mountain.

Fortuitously, Noixium Berrios, the education coordinator for Planet Drum, took a walk with David Schooley in September, and became interested in bringing his considerable knowledge and skills to the mountain. Planet Drum is a San Francisco-based environmental organization concentrating on bioregional sustainability, education and culture.  Noixium has been an environmental educator for 25 years, working in a variety of places including the Marin Headlands, the Sierras, and the Santa Cruz mountains. I am feeling very fortunate to have him on board — we complement each other well, with my classroom experience and Noixium’s wealth of outdoor lessons, stories and experiences. 

The other keys to developing successful programs are the classroom teachers and administration, and our volunteers.  At Lipman, we have enjoyed the full cooperation and participation of Holly Rios, the 6th grade science teacher, and Jolene Heckerman, the principal.  At Robertson, we have been lucky to begin working with Eddy Arias, a very gifted and eneregtic 6th grade teacher, along with Patti Kephart, the creative and encouraging 5th grade teacher we have worked with in the past.

Our volunteers really help make the outdoor classroom activities much more impactful for students, since they bring down the ratio of students to teachers.  Gina and Dionne Dettmer, both former students at Lipman along with Jerry Bolick, Warren Long, and Paul Bouscal have been providing most of the volunteer support for the last couple of years.

Of course, the kids are the reason for all of this. Working with them is very rewarding when one has a great resource like San Bruno Mountain, and a great team to work with.  Sixth and seventh grade students, with their energy, flexible bright minds, humor and curiosity really make the work fun and satisfying.

We are looking for docents:  SBMW is starting a docent training program in late winter.  We are looking for interested people to help lead hikes for both adults and children of various ages.  Please contact Ken McIntire if you are interested.  Leading hikes is very rewarding — it gets one outside and in contact with a lot of great people! 

Wednesday
Jul172013

July 2013 Newsletter

A must-read for Mountain Watchers - full of articles touching on and updating our important programs.

Go to our July 2013 Newletter

Wednesday
Apr242013

April Fundraising Letter

Please read our April 2013 Fundraising Letter - and consider making a genreous donation to support our important ongoing work!