My summer at the State Coastal Conservancy started off with a whirlwind of events: meetings and workshops galore! The highlight from my first week had to have been the San Mateo County Vulnerability Assessment Kickoff which took place in Foster City and had Congresswoman Jackie Speier there as a speaker. If you’re not familiar with this inspirational woman, her story is pretty unique.(http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Congresswoman-remembers-day-of-horror-3261573.php).But in the moment, what really drew me was a question she had for the audience of stakeholders when referring to future generations, “Are their lives going to be better off than ours?” These are ideas I hope most people reflect on, but it may not always be the case.
I came to San Francisco as a young child and have seen many changes in the Bay Area over the years, some good, some not so good. As in most communities, the pie is not always portioned out evenly, and this is no different in the Bay Area. The Bay Area has a fair amount of residents that often go unheard. Knowing the injustices that have occurred in my community was a great catalyst that sent me straight back to grad school, twelve years after completing my B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology. I think equity is always possible even though it doesn’t always happen, after all people are making the decisions that impact us. This first month of my fellowship has been proof that I am not alone in this thought. I have attended other workshops, like one hosted by the Association of Bay Area Governance which included BCDC’s Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Risk Assessment where social justice is a key theme in their analysis. There, I got to sit next to a San Bruno fire chief and police officer who told me the stories of good Samaritans that helped out in the 2010 fire.
I also had the opportunity to attend the Board of Directors meeting in Sacramento at the EPA and heard the range of projects the Conservancy is working on, from protecting Kashia tribal land through a Trust for Public Land acquisition to building steelhead habitat along the Carmel River. This past month has shown that good people are doing good things here in California. Their efforts may not be so obvious, but when we still have a healthy Bay, coast and watersheds in our future, this work will not be in vain.