Mother-Daughter Team Protects the Bay: Celebrating our Courageous Women Bay Heroes, Juliana Park and Sasha Youn

Sasha and Juliana volunteering at our Oro Loma nursery site

“You have to take the initiative for yourself — not wait for someone else to come up and ask if you want to do something.”

15-year-old Sasha Youn never needed textbooks or teachers to sense the high stakes of climate change.

“Ever since she was a little kid, Sasha always loved the ocean and the waterways – the whole ecosystem. We would walk Ocean or Stinson Beach, and she always had such a heart for the animals there.”

Juliana Park couldn’t be prouder of her daughter, but she admits: Sasha’s passion for the outdoors came as quite the surprise. “I never, honestly, thought about trying to protect the environment when I was growing up. But seeing how much Sasha cared made me ask: ‘what kind of world am I leaving for her, for her kids someday?’”

So, they started shaping that world for the better — when Sasha was just a 5th grader. They searched online for Bay Area environmental non-profits and Save The Bay popped up. After reading about our public restoration events, Sasha was excited to make a difference out in the wetlands.

“Being in nature, not surrounded by a bunch of cars or noisy cities, gives me peace. I wanted to volunteer with Save The Bay to help solve pollution and climate change, to help protect our Bay because it’s where we live.”

The first time they volunteered by the shoreline, Juliana was moved “to see people ages five to 80 all doing meaningful work. It felt like, ‘wow, no matter what age or socioeconomic background you are, you can experience and do something good for our Bay.’”

The more Juliana and Sasha volunteered in the wetlands, the more they worked to reduce pollution from home as well. “We compost, we’re very mindful of trash, and we try not to buy things we don’t need because it’ll go into landfill.”

Sasha volunteering at Palo Alto Baylands

By the time Sasha took a class on Philanthropy at The Bentley School, she knew exactly which organization she wanted to support. “Save The Bay puts lots of petitions and laws in action, and because it’s a non-profit, we have to donate to them. Otherwise, they can’t do all the things they’re doing to help the Bay stay healthy.”

Inspired by Sasha’s determination, Juliana took action, too. After attending our art gallery fundraiser and Catamaran Sail, Juliana opened up her home this Women’s History Month to honor Save The Bay’s courageous women founders. “It was great for Sasha and me to hear how they weren’t scientists or engineers, they just had the heart to keep the Bay clean.”

In spreading the word about our work, Juliana sends a message about gratitude. “On a personal level, I feel sharing Save The Bay with others, showing that we have something so beautiful here, our Bay – whatever we do to protect it is enough. It’s a start!”

This summer, Sasha took a significant step in that direction, securing her very first internship as a Development Fellow with Save The Bay. She says she enjoyed the mix of restoration fieldwork and outreach projects – plus the opportunity to learn even more about our founders.

“Knowing three women founded Save The Bay inspired me to take further steps toward environmental activism, because they showed if you’re passionate enough about something, you can do anything, no matter who you are.”

 

***Save The Bay is deeply grateful for all that Juliana and Sasha do to protect our beautiful Bay. Ahead of our big Bay Day celebration, we are proud to present these Bay Heroes with a special Courageous Women Award at this year’s Catamaran Sail – September 29th.

Board Spotlight | Mike Katz

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Mike Katz has been a member of Save The Bay’s Board of Directors for the past 13 years.

Meet Mike Katz, an Energy Consultant originally from Rockville, Maryland.  Mike has been on Save The Bay’s Board of Directors for the past 13 years and served as the Board Chair from 2008 to 2012.

How long have you lived in the Bay Area? 
I moved here when I was 23, and I am 54, so that makes it 30 years ago.  I came here to go to grad school.

What is your favorite view of San Francisco Bay?
My most favorite view is from my windsurfing board, sailing off of Crissy Field with the Golden Gate Bridge ahead of me, the Marin coastline to the north and the city’s skyline behind me.

What is your fondest memory of San Francisco Bay? 
The memory I will always cherish is the first time I windsurfed under the Golden Gate Bridge: it was terrifying and fantastic all at the same time.  A close second: being on my board in the Bay, and a huge sea lion charged at me, and at the last moment dove under my board.  Getting that close to such a magnificent animal was thrilling and a bit scary too.

When and why did you decide to join Save The Bay? 
A friend of mine was stepping down from Save The Bay’s Board of Directors, and recommended me as a Board candidate.  He knew of my passion for Bay recreation and my interest in energy and the environment.  I’m very grateful he introduced me – and I’ve been on the Board for 13 years.

Why did you join the Legacy Society?
I created a Will and Living Trust about 10 years ago.  Everyone should have a living trust, to avoid probate and the legal/public scrutiny your estate faces when you only have a Will.  It made sense to me to create a modest bequest for Save The Bay to help its future, while I was planning for my family’s future.  It was very easy to do.

What do you most appreciate about Save The Bay’s mission?
My introduction to Save The Bay included learning about Canoes In Sloughs, a fantastic program that brought kids outside and into canoes to learn about the Bay and have fun.  It was a very difficult decision, as a Board member, to agree to end the program.  But this was the right thing to do: Save The Bay’s history is rooted in protection from infill and to provide greater public access.  We can make a difference by focusing on 2-3 major campaigns, and our expertise is best focused on protection of our shoreline, reduction of plastic pollution, and restoration science and education.

Last Thoughts: 
Without San Francisco Bay, the region would not be nearly as special as it is.  The Bay makes our environment great.  Even when I’m hiking in east Bay parks (some days it’s too cold to windsurf) I always look for that sliver of water, with the sun gleaming off its surface.  The Bay is the tie that binds us all together as neighbors.

 

Bay Sustainer Spotlight: House Kombucha

 

Meet Rana Chang, Founder of House Kombucha.

Name: Rana Chang

Profession: Founder/Owner of House Kombucha

Why did you decide to get involved with Save The Bay?

When I started House Kombucha, I wanted to model the fact that reusing glass bottles saves resources and saves money. So I made a pledge to donate the money saved per bottle to an environmental nonprofit.  I chose Save The Bay because we are similarly aligned in our mission to decrease waste in the San Francisco Bay Area. House Kombucha has been a monthly donor to Save The Bay for over two years, donating two cents for every bottle returned.  Reduce, Reuse, ReFILL!

What is your favorite thing about the San Francisco Bay Area?

I never get sick of exploring new parks and trails in the many nature preserves in the area.  I also love the diversity of food, which I shouldn’t get into now, since I’m fasting…

If you could be one Bay plant or animal, what would it be and why?

I would be an otter so that I could hold hands with other otters.

Who is your environmental hero?

I was inspired to make a reusable bottle beverage company by my local food business heroes Straus Milk and St. Benoit.  Both of these businesses are committed to reusable packaging and their success showed me that the traditional reusable bottle system could be revived. It is so important to revive this time-honored tradition because disposable plastic bottles are creating so much waste in our landfills and causing environmental damage to our waterways. We can all be the change by using reusable bottles and supporting laws that encourage their use.

What is your first/fondest memory of San Francisco Bay?

I remember the sound of the foghorns at night from my room in the Tenderloin and the smell of the fresh air at the pier.  I also love the music and food at the Ferry Building farmer’s market on Saturday mornings.  I still personally drop off kombucha each week at the Ferry Building and am so happy to be a part of the rich array of local goods there.

Anything else you want to tell us?

House Kombucha once participated with Save The Bay at a volunteer day and learned a lot about the natural wetlands that surround the Bay.  We experienced how hard it is to pick little pieces of plastic out of our precious watersheds and are ever committed to being a Zero-Waste company.  We admire the way Save The Bay works to educate and involve people in direct service.  We hope to involve our followers in similar educational and experiential events and are working slowly towards this.  So please follow House Kombucha on Facebook for more updates.

Thank you House Kombucha for your dedicated support!

Bay Sustainers are a special group of Save The Bay members who offer regular monthly gifts to support our critical work to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. Learn how to become a Bay Sustainer.

 

Bay Sustainer Spotlight: Nina Brunetti

Join us for a conversation with Save The Bay volunteer and contributor Nina Brunetti.

Nina loves walking Guido along the Bay.

How did you come to be a volunteer for Save The Bay?
I started by researching organizations I admire and to which I could donate time as well as money. Save The Bay’s mission, philosophy, and flexibility really appealed to me. With the Community Based Restoration Program, it was easy to volunteer as little or as much as one wants. From the website, I can choose the dates, places, and activities that best fit my schedule. I also became a Bay Sustainer and contribute on a monthly basis. This steady source of income helps Save The Bay plan ahead and budget more efficiently. I like that.

Where do you volunteer?
At first, I participated in as many different projects as possible to get a first-hand feel for the breadth of Save The Bay’s restoration work and educate myself about the issues at each site. Over time, I’ve focused more on sites close to home – the native plant nursery at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, and Eden Landing in Hayward. I really enjoy the hands-on work and getting to know the staff and other volunteers.

What do you consider Save The Bay’s proudest achievement in 50 years?
Wow! That’s a tall order. There are many achievements that benefit the health of the Bay and the quality of life for all of us. But as the first organization of its kind, Save The Bay really became the model for similar groups nationally. For me, Save The Bay’s pioneering work in ecotone habitat restoration stands out because of their expertise in the creation of these critical buffer zones.

What’s your favorite place on San Francisco Bay?
My husband and I love taking our dog, Guido, on walks and hikes where we enjoy spectacular panoramic views, shorebirds and waterfowl. We love Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond and the San Leandro Marina Bay Trail. We’re so privileged to live in the Bay Area. I’m really grateful that I can be a volunteer and a donor with Save The Bay to help protect and restore this incredible resource.

Bay Sustainers are a special group of Save The Bay members who offer regular monthly gifts to support our critical work to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. Learn how to become a Bay Sustainer.