From Dodging Cows to Driving Policy: Meet Jody London, Bay Role Model

Jody at Save The Bay restoration event

“There was a dairy ranch between my house and the middle school. I had to cut through the field every day, and on foggy mornings, I would sometimes not see the cows until they were just a few feet away.”

But Jody London was only dodging cows as an eighth grader. The following year, that San Jose ranch turned into a subdivision. Our former Board President says she couldn’t help but wonder: “where all those cows went.”

With development more and more on her mind, Jody refined her writing skills, reporting for her high school newspaper and majoring in English at UC Berkeley. All the while, she was “finding a way to use those communication skills for a higher purpose.”

Soon after college, Jody found her foothold in environmentalism, “working with the EPA on Superfund sites, one involving mercury in the Guadalupe River” running through San Jose. However, like Save The Bay’s courageous women founders, Jody wanted to drive change – not watch as others made the tough calls.

“As a consultant for the EPA, I would submit my best work to the decision-maker, who would modify it. One day, I thought: ‘I want to be the decision-maker.’” That’s when Jody turned the tables, earning a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University and starting a job with the California Public Utilities Commission.

Jody’s favorite view, Claremont Hotel

Jody says her work on Save The Bay’s Board (1999-2008) profoundly shaped her leadership style. “I think a lot about [Save The Bay founders] Sylvia, Esther, Kay, and their willingness to keep pushing: ‘you don’t wanna do this? Who else do I talk to’?” Jody says Executive Director David Lewis served as quite the model of tenacity.

“For Measure AA, David had that vision for 15 years and just kept working on it. He would let it go and pick it up again, putting pieces in place over a very long time, drawing on all the resources he could. It was brilliant.”

Jody showed similar patience – and persuasion – fighting to reduce plastic pollution as an Oakland School Board member. The goal: get Styrofoam out of school lunches. “I did my research and figured out where the contract was, and I framed the issue very simply to my colleagues on the School Board before our vote: ‘look, there’s a giant patch of garbage in the Pacific, and you don’t want to contribute to that.’” They got the message: Styrofoam was banned in a 6-1 vote.  

As Sustainability Coordinator with Contra Costa County, Jody now spends much of her time working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — also a focus area of Save The Bay’s Bay Smart Communities vision. She’s promoting idle-free driving as a simple first step for everyone behind the wheel.

Volunteers from Temple Beth Abraham

But Jody doesn’t stop at steering policy campaigns; she’s also empowering the next generation of environmental advocates. For more than 15 years, our former Board Member has been bringing young people from her synagogue, Temple Beth Abraham, out to the wetlands for volunteer events.

The groups have pulled non-native plants, collected seeds from our nurseries, and removed harmful trash from the shoreline. Jody says it’s been really rewarding to “see Arrowhead Marsh change, with the growth of native plants – what a feeling of accomplishment.”

In true Save The Bay style, Jody says the collaborative aspect is the most invigorating part: “the satisfaction comes in how you were able to bring other people along with you, so they understand the environmental issue and how important it is.”

***We are thrilled to feature Jody and other Bay role models at a special event honoring Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis on August 30 in San Francisco. Learn more at sfbayactionfund.org.

Help Cadence Protect the Heart of our Home

Why does San Francisco Bay need your support before the clock strikes midnight on the last day of the year?

We can’t put it better than Cadence: “The Bay needs our help because it’s getting polluted and creatures are endangered.”

Time is running out to protect our Bay, the heart of our home.

But if you make a generous donation before 2018, Save The Bay can keep working to reduce pollution, create habitat, and inspire thousands of students (like six-year-old Cadence!) to dig into science right by the shoreline.

We wish you a safe and a happy new year, and we’re grateful that you’re part of our caring community.

Solstice on the Shoreline

From the ancient Egyptians to the Ohlone living here in the Bay Area, many cultures experience winter as a powerful time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. The season officially begins Thursday, December 21st – with a solstice! The term translates to “sun stands still,” as the sun appears to pause in its incremental journey across the sky.
All smiles for Solstice on the Shoreline!
Our dedicated volunteer group was all smiles for Solstice on the Shoreline!
Save The Bay decided to mark this changing of the seasons by planting seedlings with some of our most dedicated volunteers and donors. Through their labor and their generosity, this diverse community had already given richly to support our programs. But on last Saturday’s Solstice on the Shoreline event, they dug right into soil to help out even more. Former board members joined avid gardeners and corporate partners to put on gloves, pick up trowels, and protect our Bay.

 

Along the way, Donna Ball and Kenneth Rangel of our Restoration team explained how our staff cleans seeds and sanitizes soil using somewhat simple tools. They made clear these tasks can be both intricate and time-consuming without advanced technology. However, as we build the support necessary to cover this equipment, Save The Bay staffers remain plenty resourceful in their push to create habitat. 
 
Meanwhile, high winds and incredibly hard ground never phased our passionate participants last weekend. Our restoration staff used an auger – a drill bit that can create holes in the ground – to start each of our planting spots. Then, our lively group got to work (sometimes wielding pickaxes!). In the end, we carved a warm bed to lay the young seedlings.
 
Building community to share Save The Bay’s story is a key part of my role as Events & Outreach Manager. I’m thrilled that the events I design and host can genuinely boost the health of San Francisco Bay. Witnessing that “A-ha” moment on a volunteer’s face as they begin to understand their own role in protecting our Bay is incredibly rewarding. After all, my own positive experiences as a student and educator are a major source of inspiration as I work to connect – and expand – Save The Bay’s community.
 
Save The Bay is a resource for learning, scientific exploration, rejuvenation, and above all, making memories.  With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I encourage you to take a moment to breathe in the Bay air, take a calming walk along its shores and rejuvenate your soul.  We are ready to start building a year’s worth of amazing events and gatherings for 2018. I look forward to seeing you at Blue, our Bay Brunch Cruise on Earth Day (April 22, 2018), and Bay Day, our region-wide celebration for San Francisco Bay, on October 6, 2018.

 

You and your family can also join one of our public programs for free throughout the year. Save The Bay relies on thousands of volunteers annually to make progress on our many wetland restoration projects. Check our calendar often as spaces fill quickly. We can also create dedicated private restoration events for your group or company. Contact Jack Wolfink at jwolflink@savesfbay.org to learn more.

 

Simple Moments, Lifelong Activism: Welcoming Nicole Schmidt to our Education Team

I​ ​am​ excited​ ​to​ ​introduce​ ​myself​ ​as​ ​the​ ​new​ ​Restoration​ ​Education​ ​Specialist​ ​for Save​ ​The​ ​Bay.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​grateful​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​passionate​ ​and​ ​talented​ ​team​ ​dedicated​ ​to the​ ​protection​ ​and​ ​restoration​ ​of​ ​the​ ​tidal​ ​marsh​ ​wetlands​ ​of​ ​the​ ​San​ ​Francisco​ ​Bay.

Studying Environmental​ ​Studies​ ​and​ ​Sociology​ was certainly part of the reason I became an environmental​ ​educator​ ​and environmental​ ​justice​ ​activist. My main source of inspiration? Reading​ ​​Last Child​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Woods​ ​by​ ​Richard​ ​Louv​​ ​​. In​ ​his​ ​thought​-provoking​ ​book,​ ​Louv​ ​connects​ ​the​ ​rising​ trends​ ​of childhood ​obesity,​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​attention​ ​disorders​ ​to​ ​a​ ​decrease​ ​in​ ​spending​ ​time outside. I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​inspire​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​ages​ ​to​ ​unplug,​ ​at​ ​least​ ​for​ ​a​ ​bit​ ​each​ ​day. I want to encourage them to ​slow​ ​down,​ ​be present​, ​and​ ​explore​ ​the outdoors ​with​ ​friends,​ ​family​ ​and​ ​the​ ​surrounding​ ​critters.

I​ ​am​ ​coming​ ​to​ ​Save​ ​The​ ​Bay​ ​with​ ​over​ ​7​ ​years​ ​of​ ​experience​ ​working​ ​as​ ​an environmental​ ​educator​ ​with​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​ages​ ​and​ ​backgrounds.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​experience​ ​working with​ ​marine​ ​invertebrates,​ ​teaching​ ​about​ ​marine​ ​ecology​ ​and​ ​inspiring​ ​an​ ​ocean​ ​conservation ethic.​ ​I​ ​also​ ​worked​ ​as​ ​a​ ​Naturalist​ ​teaching​ ​lessons​ ​about​ ​sustainability, ecology,​ ​organic gardening,​ ​alternative​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​energy,​ ​and​ ​natural​ ​history​ ​through​ ​experiential​ ​lessons​ ​hiking​ ​in the​ ​Santa​ ​Cruz​ ​Mountains.​

For​ ​the​ ​past​ ​two​ ​years,​ ​I​ ​had​ ​the​ ​incredible​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with Education​ ​Outside​ ​as​ ​the​ ​instructor​ ​at​ ​Cleveland​ ​Elementary​ ​in​ ​San​ ​Francisco.​ ​I​ ​managed​ ​the school​ ​garden​, as well as​ ​sustainability​ ​programs​ ​on campus ​and throughout the ​community.​  My​ ​favorite​ ​moments​ ​as​ ​an educator​ ​in​ ​these​ ​roles​ ​were​ ​when​ ​students​ ​found​ ​something​ ​that​ ​interested​ ​them,​ ​slowed down,​ ​observed,​ ​asked​ ​questions,​ ​and​ ​remained​ ​in​ ​awe.​ ​They​ ​were​ ​completely​ ​present.​ ​Not worried​ ​about​ ​anything.​ ​Simply​ ​inspired​ ​by​ ​the​ ​beauty​ ​and​ ​wonder​ ​of​ ​nature -​ ​whether​ ​staring at​ ​the ocean,​ ​standing in a redwood​ ​forest,​ or spotting a small​ ​plant​ ​growing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​cracks of a sidewalk.​ ​These are precisely the moments that ​inspire​ ​people​ ​of​ ​all​ ​ages​ ​to become​ ​environmental​ ​stewards.

I​ ​am​ ​so​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​my passion​ ​as​ ​an​ ​educator​ ​to Save​ ​The​ ​Bay.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​leading​ education,​ ​public​ ​and​ ​corporate​ ​Restoration Programs​ ​at​ ​our​ ​sites​ ​and​ ​engaging​ ​folks​ ​in​ ​hands​-​on​ ​restoration​ ​work.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​also​ ​be​ ​working​ ​on updating​ ​Save​ ​The​ ​Bay’s​ ​curriculum​ ​to​ ​include​ ​lessons​ ​and​ ​activities​ ​aligned​ ​with​ ​Next​ ​Generation Science​ ​Standards​ ​for​ ​each​ ​grade​ ​level.​ ​I​ ​am​ thrilled that I’ll get to ​develop Climate​ ​Change curriculum​ ​for​ ​middle​ ​and​ ​high​ ​school​ ​students.

How​ ​lucky​ ​are​ ​we​ ​to​ ​live​ ​in​ a​ ​breathtaking urban​ ​area​ that’s so close to ​vibrant wildlife habitats​?​ ​I​ ​am​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​working​ ​on​ ​the​ ​restoration​ ​of​ ​our​ ​tidal​ ​marshes.​ ​I encourage​ ​everyone​ ​to​ ​come​ ​and​ ​volunteer​ ​at​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​​volunteer​ ​events​​ ​and ​help​ ​the​ ​Bay​ ​Area remain​ ​ecologically​ ​diverse​ ​and​ ​resilient!

See​ ​you​ ​in​ ​the​ ​marsh!

Spooky Creature Features

It’s almost Halloween! What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to discuss those critters that seek to disturb and horrify us. These are four species that can be found around San Francisco Bay that are noteworthy either due to their appalling eating habitats, by their grotesque appearance, or a combination thereof:

Red-Backed Jumping Spiders

Just as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply talk about the creepy crawlies without mentioning spiders. When most people think of Halloween spiders, black widows and tarantulas typically come to mind. Even though both can be found in the Bay Area, we instead will be talking about the red-backed jumping spider, or Phidippus johnsoni. This is a small jumping spider that is about a centimeter long. Its most notable feature is its bright red abdomen. Though the red-backed jumping spider may look terrifying, it is harmless to humans. The coloration acts as a disguise. The spiders mimic wasps called velvet ants in order to deter potential predators.

Saltmarsh Dodder

Saltmarsh dodders (Cuscuta  spp.) are a genus of native herbaceous plants. However, unlike most other plants, they aren’t green, don’t have leaves and don’t photosynthesize. Instead, dodder is a holometabolous parasite, meaning that it must rely on a host plant from which to obtain all of its nutrients. Dodders are easily identifiable by their orange coloration and threadlike stems that cover the surfaces of host species. They produce white flowers in the summer months.

Oyster Drill

The Atlantic Oyster Drill (Urosalpinx  cinerea) is a small predatory marine snail measuring only 20-35 mm long. A snail you say? How bad can that be? However, these little guys make up for their small stature with a voracious appetite. As the name suggests, they primarily prey on other mollusks and do so in a gruesome fashion. They use a specialized appendage called a radula to bore a hole in the shell of an unsuspecting mussel or clam. Once they finish, they then proceed to slurp the soft insides out through the hole, leaving only the shell behind!

Turkey Vulture 

Image: Arthur Morris/VIREO

Vultures are another Halloween staple.  A common species found throughout much the United States is the ever-present turkey vulture (Cathartes aura).  Chances are good you’ve seen a few circling overhead while driving on the freeway. Turkey vultures are scavengers and feed on carrion, or decaying flesh. Adult turkey vultures have an excellent sense of smell, allowing them to hone in on fresh roadkill, which they then regurgitate for their hungry brood. Still want that Halloween candy? I didn’t think so.