Like many others around the country, this year I spent the Martin Luther King Day Holiday in service of my local community. I chose to do restoration at the aptly named Martin Luther King shoreline in Oakland, California. The area is located just a stones throw away from a congested freeway and sports complex, and is a gorgeous natural environment teeming with local birds and other wildlife that connects to the beautiful San Francisco Bay.
In spite of the heavy rain, scores of people from nearly every walk of life and representing many organizations came out to put native plants in the ground, and do the meticulous clean-up of debris that washes in from the surrounding community’s streams and gutters.
Rubén, my co-worker at Golden Gate Audubon was on hand with a watershed model city and demonstrated to participants just how humans have an important impact on wild spaces — for better or worse. The East Bay Regional Parks, who were also key coordinators for the event, educated the public about how birds ingest plastic and other trash that remains trapped in their digestive system.
My kids and I walked along the shore and together we filled up a bag of all kinds of debris. A bottle cap here, pieces of styrofoam there; altogether a menace to this local environment. As we cleaned up, my 6 and 8 year old expressed their frustration, “why would people do this?” I answered, “I don’t know,” but inside felt grateful that even at their young age, they understood how people can make a difference in their local environment and were able to see first hand the consequences of indifference. I think Dr. King would be proud.
Did you choose to serve today? If so, what did you do?