Earth Day at Brookfield Elementary School with the All Bay Collective

Elmhurst Elementary School in East Oakland is backed up – literally – against the 880. The school has started planting trees and shrubs in front of the giant 20 foot sound barrier that separates it from the 880 to try to address the poor air quality caused by the thousands of trucks and cars thundering away daily behind it. On 21st April, in celebration of Earth Day, the Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation held a tree planting day for kids at the school. Coach Archie, of Higher Ground, briefed the kids on how to approach the ‘tool circle’  (carefully so you don’t hurt yourself or others) and pointed out some of the other activities on offer such as face painting, snow-cones and hot dogs, and the All Bay Collective!

  Brookfield kids helping out with the tree planting

Brookfield kids helping out with the tree planting

Members of the ABC team were there to find out more from parents and kids about their neighborhood and to talk to them about the threat of sea level rise and ground water. Some of the older kids had clearly been listening hard at school and talked about fossil fuels, the need for solar power, and melting ice caps. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the flooding on the map predicted for the San Leandro Bay area, especially when explained in terms of the height of a small boy (3ft) and ABC team member Nico (6ft). The younger kids had fun identifying their houses on the map and the ball park. Many of them didn’t think they had ever been to San Leandro Bay before, nor had ridden the BART.

  Claire from ABC, and RB from Scraper Bikes (in the green) with some kids talking about SLR

Claire from ABC, and RB from Scraper Bikes (in the green) with some kids talking about SLR

  Claire and Nico (6ft) and kid (3ft) talking about SLR with a group of primarily Hispanic 6-7 year olds

Claire and Nico (6ft) and kid (3ft) talking about SLR with a group of primarily Hispanic 6-7 year olds

Nico also lent a hand to the tree planting and soon found the hardest, least permeable, darkest clay he had ever seen. When only 18” down – deep enough for the little fig tree he was planting – he found ground water: real evidence of what our ground water mapping has indicated to us. Coach Archie told us that the strip of land where the trees are being planted has flooded up to 2 feet during spring rains, due to insufficient drainage for the giant asphalt playground and the juxtaposition with the freeway and wall. He was a font of hard-earned wisdom and hands-in-the-ground knowledge about flooding, channelization, and ecological restoration.  A new and valuable contact for ABC. 

  Map showing some idea proposed by the kids to address SLR – a big glass wall, and a personal favorite – ‘taid   wait’ meaning tide gate!

Map showing some idea proposed by the kids to address SLR – a big glass wall, and a personal favorite – ‘taid wait’ meaning tide gate!

Jake Herson