Blessings to our Mother

Mother Earth, that is, so Happy Earth Day my friends!

Z and I celebrated Earth Day last weekend when we biked to San Francisco’s southern bay shorline to visit the grand opening of the Eco Center. Map is here (but the Eco Center doesn’t show on the map).

The Eco Center entry with a living roof and water storage tanks

This environmental education center is also San Francisco’s first 100% “off-grid” building, modeling solar power and alternative wastewater technologies. The center is an amazing collaboration between  Literacy for Environmental Justice, the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Environment, and the California Coastal Conservancy and was designed by Toby Long Design. Check out this blog for some great construction photos.

View of from the classroom

The whole building is beautiful, but the most amazing thing is the living machine wastewater treatment. This series of  anaerobic and aerobic tanks, wetland cells and ultraviolet sterilization lamps will treat wastewater and recycle treated water for landscape irrigation.

Anaerobic tanks

Constructed wetlands

Anaerobic tanks with fish

view of the red Eco House past Lash Lighter Basin & pier

This is the second time I’ve ridden through San Francisco’s southern neighborhoods – Mission Bay, Dog Patch, Bayview, Hunters Point. And I’ve only done it thanks to Sunday Streets, where streets around SF are closed to cars and taken over by bicyclists, roller bladers and pedestrians. I’ve spent a bit of time in these neighborhoods, but it feels very different riding a bike through rather than driving through. Its become one of my favorite places to ride because I’m always fascinated by industrial areas – growing up in a steel town, the grit is in my DNA.  And also because I’ve planted alot of trees here.  This is a part of town most people avoid – some because of the crime, others because power plants and the Navy shipyard have polluted the air and ground – according to LEJ there are 325 toxic sites in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhoods.

The last of SF's marshland

Most people – me included – forget that the Bayview and Hunter’s Point are located on our shoreline. Behind the Eco Center is a path that takes you out on the little peninsula, Heron’s Head Park, that separates India Basin from Lash Lighter Basin. Now you can walk all the way to the end, with huge ships in Lash Lighter Basin and anchored sail boats in India Basin. Its industry and nature and an impoverished neighborhood all struggling together

And that makes it all the more important to have SF’s first Eco Center here. It gives me a bit of hope that if it can happen here, then hell, it can happen anywhere.


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