Returning to my Roots

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A tall, arching bridge and hills giving way to the blue peace – looking out into the Carquinez Strait from the Benicia waterfront. Photo by. Daniel Adel

As a Benicia native, the Carquinez Strait was (and continues to be) an everyday sight. As a child, I would often frequent my hometown’s many shoreline parks, such as the tidal marsh wetlands of the Benicia State Recreation Area immediately downhill from my residence. The stunning views of San Francisco Bay, the sights of tall, arching bridges and hills giving way to this expansive blue peace – knowing that our estuary was the meeting place of California’s waterways before draining into the Pacific Ocean, had a strong impact on my psyche, my sense of place, and ultimately my future pursuits as a student and advocate of the environment.

For the last month, I have had the privilege of working as Save The Bay’s Communications Volunteer, helping to update Save The Bay’s website, social media platforms, archive photos, and keep track of volunteers at our restoration events.

It’s strange, seeing how all the pieces came together.

As a result of personal and academic influences, I have, in recent years, been involved with many environmental causes, such as campaigning for fossil fuel divestment in the halls of San Francisco State (now my alma mater), or marching in Downtown Oakland to address climate justice in my ancestral South Asia. Such hard-hitting global issues were topics I covered as a writer for the environmental magazine, Earth Island Journal. Sharing such stories are also the focus of much of my personal social media feed.

While these experiences, forming the basis of my post-college career goals, are why I applied as an office volunteer for an environmental non-profit like Save The Bay, my connections with this organization’s work go back many years – rooted in my experience of growing up in the Bay Area.

My upbringing in Benicia provided me with a lifelong appreciation for San Francisco Bay. Save The Bay’s legacy of protecting our shoreline has always been extremely visible to me, but the organization in name first entered my consciousness after reading Richard Walker’s book, The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area and subsequently watching the KQED documentary, Saving The Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay several years ago. As a recurring topic in my Environmental Studies courses, it became more and more apparent to me how Save The Bay has shaped the trajectory of our region – and now my career.

It’s heartening to finally take a step back and return to my roots – the Bay Area. It’s such an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to work that has been so near and dear to me, and to use the experience to build on some of my more contemporary pursuits, such as writing and communicating for an environmental cause.

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Old and new memories – looking south to Contra Costa County from across the Carquinez Strait. Photo by. Daniel Adel

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been frequenting the Benicia shoreline almost every day, revisiting old memories and connecting to new ones at Save The Bay.

My origins in the Bay Area, its history, achievements, and role in inspiring broader progressive movements around the world, have strongly shaped my identity. As I continue my role in communications, in becoming more familiar with all its nuances and technicalities, I aspire to bridge my two passions: writing and advocacy.