Many Oakland creeks that once flowed freely are now hidden underground from public awareness, making our watersheds both painfully invisible and nonfunctional. Instead of being infiltrated and naturally treated through soil infiltration into naturally flowing creeks, rainwater/stormwater, full of toxic chemicals, plastics, trash and feces, flows from streets to storm drains into underground creeks and then directly into Lake Merritt, the Oakland Estuary and the SF Bay without any treatment. Oaklanders don’t even know the creeks exist or that they are filling them with pollutants.
To generate awareness, connection and care for these unseen bodies of water and their dilapidated ecosystems, Wholly H2O is again collaborating with the Mycelium Youth Network to engage two Oakland grade schools in the upper and lower Peralta Creek watershed to give this buried creek a physical presence on the earth’s surface with long-lasting chalk (with proper permits). Why here and why these participants? We want to reach those most likely to take long term action for the benefit of local watershed ecosystems.
Bay Creeks Walk and Chalk will viscerally engage about 120 traditionally underserved youth in locating and visually documenting Peralta Creek so that they learn:
-why urban creeks are so damn cool
-how watersheds operate
-where their potable water comes from and goes
-history of east bay creeks and their flora and fauna
-how their actions contribute to or jeopardize the health of local watersheds
This program will get local youth outside and more familiar with their own riparian/terrestrial ecosystems. Rather than a bland message of "save water," the youth participating in the Walk and Chalk will have their own memories of creating the artistic pathways and have a sense of how a watershed flows. By the end, 120 students (and their families) will be more prone to care for watersheds by decreasing trash and making smarter choices about water use from their direct experiences.
Funded by Oakland, CA (September 2019)