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 you’ll 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 you’re 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. They’ll 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?

Santa Fe Right-of-Way Open at Lincoln St.!

The fence that had blocked the Santa Fe Right-of-Way just north of Lincoln Street is open for a six-month trial, thanks to the Berkeley Parks Department. This means you can walk or cycle this 1880s rail route from University Avenue in Berkeley to San Pablo at McDonald, on the El Cerrito-Richmond border. You’ll find community gardens, public art, play areas, and restored creeks on the level, 4.5-mile route (known as the Ohlone Greenway and running under BART in Albany and El Cerrito).

Try it out! Please report any problems in the area of Delaware to Cedar Streets in Berkeley to Berkeley Path Wanderers — email or

Feb. 15 BPWA talk on wildlife, Native American history

Wildlife biologist and ethnologist Jim Hale speaks on East Bay wildlife and Native American history, 7-9 pm Thursday, Feb. 15, at Redwood Gardens, 2951 Derby St., Berkeley. Hale has taught biology at San Jose State and UC Santa Cruz, worked on creek restoration, and done research on many local rare and endangered species, from wildflowers to mountain lions. The walk is sponsored by Berkeley Path Wanderers Association; Hale also leads their Feb. 20 walk in Wildcat Regional Park. Information at

Feb. 10 BPWA Wildcat Ck. walk on Native American history

On Sat., Feb. 10, Berkeley Path Wanderers Assn. sponsors a four-hour exploration of Wildcat Canyon Regional Park with ethnologist and wildlife biologist Jim Hale. The walk includes several rock sites used by Native Americans and is followed by an optional drive to see rock art at nearby Poinsett Park in El Cerrito. (Hale also will speak on local wildlife and Native American history at Berkeley Path Wanderers’ Feb. 15 meeting, see
Meet at 10 am at the Wildcat Canyon Staging Area, Park Avenue 0.1 mile northeast of McBryde Avenue, Richmond. Bring water and lunch. Dress in layers and be prepared for rain and mud. Driving directions at; map at; AC Transit 68 stops nearby. More information at or 925 939 4304.

Feb. 5 talk on estuaries

Friends of Five Creeks president Susan Schwartz gives a slide tour and talk on “Restoring America’s Estuaries: Winning Battles But…,” 7 pm Mon., Feb. 5, at the Edith Stone Room, Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin. Free; information at,, or 510 848 9358.