Five years ago, I left my home in Boston for what I thought was a year-long stint working in San Francisco. This summer, I returned for a visit to indulge in New England summertime, happy to escape the San Francisco fog. I grew up in Vermont where July means ice cream cones and swimming holes, hiking trails and concerts in the park. I spent my college years in Boston where you can take a commuter rail to white sand beaches and the park system forms an Emerald Necklace. Summers are spent outside in the open spaces that I once took for granted. As I’ve learned more about the modern environmental movement, I’ve realized that public access to natural spaces is not a value that everyone shares and that protecting these spaces is the result of campaigns waged by visionaries.
Save The Bay’s work is grounded in the legacy of such visionaries, three women who stood up against developers in 1961. Celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary last year, I learned to tell the story of this great history. But it was this May during the Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary, standing on the Bay shoreline near Crissy Field and looking out over the treasured Bay, that I uncovered an overwhelmingly deep appreciation for the environmentalists who saved this Bay.
What if the Bay was just a shipping channel? What if my childhood memories of New England were filled with billboards and strip malls instead of mountains and rivers? I am determined to never take these natural treasures for granted again, and to continue the fight to ensure open spaces for the children who grow up 50 years from now.
For the last few months I have had the privilege of working for Save The Bay as a Communications Volunteer. In a nutshell my job is to help manage the website, social media feeds, archive photos, and represent the organization at events. I actually discovered the volunteer position while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and jumped at the chance to apply. The idea of working for a local environmental nonprofit seemed too good to be true as it aligned with my academic and personal interests. Having been raised in the Bay Area, it means a lot to me to be involved in the organization’s progressive environmental efforts and to have the opportunity to give back to the community.
Save The Bay’s work takes place both in the office and at a number of restoration sites around the Bay. It is interesting to see the correlation between office and field work. In addition to working in the office, I have also attended a couple of restoration events along the Peninsula. It is incredible to witness the difference a group of volunteers can make within the span of a few hours. For me it is fun to meet other volunteers who share a similar passion for Bay issues. Eventually my goal is to go to all of the sites around the Bay Area.
By far my favorite volunteer event was at the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Celebration over Memorial Day weekend. I had so much fun sporting a bay creature costume while dancing and posing for pictures with festival guests. Ordinarily I would shy away from the idea of dancing in a mascot costume, but doing so taught me the intrinsic reward of making someone’s day a little bit better.
It has only been a few months since my first day, but within that short period of time I have learned a lot about Save The Bay, communications work, and most importantly myself. This experience has given me a sense of achievement and purpose. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that the work I am doing in the office and in the field supports a great cause. Working here has inspired me to keep our founders’ dreams alive and to carry out their vision for a healthy Bay. Today, I am just as excited to go to work as I was on my first day and proudly embrace my role as a Communications Volunteer.