Sophia Markoulakis is a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Weekender Editions, and other regional and national media outlets. She has been a resident of the San Francisco peninsula for 25 years. www.sophiamarkoulakis.com
As a home and garden journalist, I have spent the majority of the last 10 years writing about topics related to the gardening world. Profiling people who cultivate a better world for others, be it by artistic pursuits or activist-led initiatives, are my favorite types of stories.
So when Save the Bay’s Editorial and Public Affairs Manager Vanessa Barrington contacted me last fall about an upcoming nursery event, inquiring if I would be interested in attending (and possibly finding placement with one of my media outlets), I was intrigued.
Before her friendly email I had never heard of Save the Bay, its work, or for that matter, understood the bay’s history and function. For 25 years I have driven up and down the 101 and watched the evolution and erosion of our wetlands without even comprehending what was happening to our special place.
Once Vanessa and I began communicating, I became more invested in the idea of spreading the word about the organization and its mission. After I secured placement, Vanessa and I determined that covering the drought and its affects on the organization’s shoreline restoration efforts was the perfect angle.
On a recent warm sunny Saturday morning I headed to a trailhead in East Palo Alto that I had never heard of and got up close to a stretch of land that I had only seen from the highway. As the morning wore on and I spoke with volunteers and Save the Bay staffers, I couldn’t wait to do some planting myself. I left Faber Tract feeling fully informed on the project and invigorated to become a part of something larger than my story.
As I filed my piece I knew my relationship with Save the Bay wouldn’t end.
I just returned from another wetland restoration planting event, this time accompanied by my husband. We planted Creeping Wild Rye, Salt Marsh Baccharis, and Goldenrod and said a little prayer that the rains will come, and that by next year they’ll be mature plants, providing a sanctuary for the area’s habitat and a buffer for rising waters.
Donna Ball, Habitat Restoration Director, declared our planting event a success and reported that we planted over 600 seedlings with 50 volunteers, many representing the region’s middle and high schools. As we all went our separate ways, Donna thanked us and reminded us that restoration equals activism.
I cherish my newfound activism and look forward to the next time that I can again contribute to our collective gardening efforts, helping to restore an area that I will never look at the same way again.
– Sophia Markoulakis