UC Berkeley funding for BPFP “Greening Berkeley” partners

For the third year in a row, BPFP’s “Greening Berkeley Hands On” partnership has been awarded a Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund grant by UC Berkeley. This year’s award of $24,000 will help BPFP affiliates carry out a wide variety of hands-on environmental projects. The grant pays for both materials and a UC student intern, who organized student volunteering through CalCorps, UC’s public-service arm.

Projects in the 2008 grant range from path construction and a solar light for the Santa Fe Right of Way, projects of Berkeley Path Wanderers, to tools and gloves for the city’s 14 public-school gardens, through Friends of School Gardens. The community-built Schoolhouse Creek Common will install chess tables and a bench. Nearby, Friends of Westbrae Commons will continue transforming the Ohlone Greenway south of Gilman with native coastal-prairie plants. Friends of Shorebird Park Nature Center will spread fresh sand and build new racks at Adventure Playground, while Aquatic Park EGRET will get upgraded nataive plants and upgraded wheelbarrows. Friends of Five Creeks will be able to install signs on local natural history and plant drought-tolerant natives in a variety of sites, from the Santa Fe Right of Way to Mortar Rock Park.

Aquatic Park EGRET also will partner with Earth Team Environmental Network, Berkeley Community Media, College of Natural Resources, and Berkeley Community Garden to involve local teens in habitat restoration days that teens also will film for showing on local cable TV. This project received a $5000 Chancellors Community Partnership grant.

Join us to carry out these projects! Contact BPFP or the affiliate group you are interested in — click on “Affiliated Groups” at right.

Australian link for John Hinkel Park

BPFP went international recently when Vicki Rostron of Australia wrote asking for information on Hinkel Park, which her great-grandfather John Hinkel donated to the city in 1918. John was a fan of the then-youthful movement of Scouting, and donated the beautiful tract in North Berkeley, with two creeks, on condition that it would remain natural and that Scouts could continue to use it. It seems that John’s son Hulbert Hinkel (John’s wife was Ada Hulbert) was a dashing pioneer aviator, the second man to do an inverted loop in an airplane. He also married five times – one bride, Dorothy Perry of Sydney, Australia, was Vicki Rostron’s grandmother. We sent Vicki background on the park along with a promise of a tour when she comes to visit. We’re looking forward to it!

Hinkel Park is one of Berkeley’s most beautiful and bucolic parks, as cultural geographer, Grey Brechin, attests: “In a lovely canyon studded with live oaks, the Civil Works Administration in 1934 built a four-acre park with an intimate Greek amphitheater, trails, and rustic clubhouse. The eater was used by the Berkeley Community Players for many years and then by the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, though next year the festival moves to Orinda because of traffic and space problems. Today, the theater’s tree-shaded terraces seem more Druidic than Greek.” (Quoted from “Built by FDR: How the WPA Changed the Lay of the Land”: http://www.graybrechin.com/GBrechinArticle5.html.)

Noted Berkeley historian, Susan Cerny remarks about the donator of the park, ” The land… was given to the city in 1918 by John Hinkel, a downtown property owner. It was reported to be the largest gift the city had ever received…Before giving the property to the city, Hinkel made some notable improvements: he built a rustic redwood clubhouse, a stone fireplace and playground, and also created the network of pathways. The park was conceived by Hinkel to be a natural space where the native flora would be retained and enhanced rather than being replaced it with artificial plantings.” It has retained that original character for the past 90 years. See her article about the park:www.berkeleyheritage.com/berkeley_landmarks/john_hinkel_park.html (See also the photos in this article)

Celebrate Schoolhouse Creek with Bayshore Bug Hunt, Art Making, More

Saturday, May 31, celebrate historic Schoolhouse Creek in the Eastshore State Park with a bug hunt, making art from natural materials, a picnic, and interpretive walk or bike ride. Fun for all ages!

  • 10 – 11:30 am, discover the fascinating and varied miniature world of insects with Cal Bug People.
  • 11:30 am – 1 pm, enjoy a bring-your-own picnic (we’ll supply snacks and water) and short interpretive walk or bike ride. You’ll learn about the history and future of our waterfront, and how this former dump is being transformed.
  • 1 – 2:30 pm, environmental artist Zach Pine will lead us making art with found materials at the "glass beach" and miniature salt marsh at the creek mouth.

Attend one or all — everything is free, but numbers are limited. Information and registration at 510 848 9358 or f5creeks@aol.com.

Directions: GREAT bike ride on the Bay Trail, also reachable by AC Transit 9, which stops on University just across from Sea Breeze Deli. From there, walk 5 minutes north on Bay Trail. You’ll see our sign at the turnout and trail that was Virginia Extension. By car, parking at the site is very limited — park at Sea Breeze Deli, south side of University Ave. just west of I-880/580, and walk 5 minutes north on the Bay Trail as above.

Online maps: "Virginia St and W Frontage Rd, Berkeley," only there is no Virginia St. — look for the small turnout and trail and our sign.

Help with Frog Survey

Learn to recognize frog calls and help with Friends of Five Creeks’ every-other-year frog survey by learning to recognize frog calls and then listening at likely spots after sundown. Training session at 7 pm Monday, April 2, at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin, Albany, but you dont need to attend the meeting to participate. Focus is on East Bay from Berkeley to Richmond, but others welcome. Information: 510-848 9358, f5creeks@aol.com, or www.fivecreeks.org.

Getting positive projects done — Tips from Community Activists

Cast your net widely in seeking help — around the neighborhood and your community of friends and affiliates. You never know where help will come from, and youll need a diversity of talent to complete a project.
Don’t be bashful about ASKING others to assist. Enlisting is often the best way to “find” volunteers.
Prioritize both the projects you take on and the steps you take in each one, based on what’s most broadly supported, most needed, and doable.
Perfection is the enemy of Done. A good plan today is often better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
Just get started. Do something small that shows youre on the way. It will be much easier to attract support with each step you take.
When a project takes years to realize, have real milestones enroute plant something, install something — to keep folks from losing heart or interest.
Have two projects one long term and uncertain, and one short term and likely to succeed. That way, you keep going, and at least some of the hard things get done.
Be prepared for process. To paraphrase Woody Allen, sometimes nine-tenths of success is just showing up at meetings. Sometimes, the one who attends the most meetings wins.
Things will get much easier as you develop a broad network of contacts, partners, and a track record. A good way to do this is by helping others with related efforts.
Always be nice to government officials or staff. Theyll be grateful, because they get dumped on so often. And thank everyone for everything. People remember how you make them feel.
Who is already working in the area? What can you learn from them? Is part or all of your project in their plans? Can you help or partner? Think about territoriality yours and theirs.
Reach out to the neighboring community and keep people informed about your plans from the beginning. People have less tendency to get polarized if they have information and feel that you’re taking their concerns, hopes, and fears seriously.
Most conflicts are between good causes. Be prepared to incorporate others goals, broaden your ideas and purpose, compromise, and pick your way through more regulations and requirements than you dreamed.
Expect things to take much more time and effort than you expect.
Be realistic about the future. Ask yourself: What is success? When you move on, what will be needed to keep it going? How will the project be maintained?