We are borrowing our Parks from our children

We are borrowing our Parks from our children.  I want to return them to them in better condition than I got them.  If I have to get a job at City Hall to do that, I will.  Some awful decisions are being made there and that needs to change.

I teach ecoliteracy in an after-school enrichment program.  The program is a model of democratic education.   I start my afternoons helping to get snacks together.  Sometimes we make the food together using ingredients from my gardens–the good stuff.  I help with homework and engage with students in ways that challenge them to use their native intelligence.  They ask me questions that challenge me to communicate not just the answers but the rationale and context for those answers.  After the homework is done, we work on projects that interest them.  These projects are meant to help us come to understand that it is nature that sustains us.  We think about how we should live with that knowledge.  We connect by talking and working with natural elements–flora and fauna, earth, air, water, fire–and our spirits are uplifted.  We unpack our mental backpacks of references, share them, and find correspondence.  We learn from one another.

I tell you this because the free exchange I’m talking about is a matter of no small importance.  In the past few months, I’ve talked to hundreds of people about the toxic Astro Field Turf / lighted soccer stadium project proposed for 7+ acres of Golden Gate Park, a stone’s throw from where the ocean meets the land.  At this point, it’s wearing on me, the cognitive dissonance that happens to me when I think about talking with my young students about wants and needs and what get used and what gets thrown away and wasted and why I should even have to talk about my preference for a well-maintained grass field (very like a meadow) over a plastic mat thrown down over poisonous chopped-up tires.  Then, I think about what my students would think if, in their mid to late teens, they had to look at that toxic waste dump covered with faded fuzzy plastic and the lights on all night.  They would think–what a waste, there are toxins in our drinking water or in the ocean because of that, what a dumb-assed idea.  If I were there while they looked at the wreckage, hopefully we’d recognize one another.  In that sad moment in the future we’d have the memory of our correspondence, and one question they would not ask me would be, “How could you let this happen?”

I won’t.  Let us resolve that it won’t happen. Let’s make sure that the Beach Chalet Astroturf Soccer Stadium project gets canned.

Instead, let’s have really nice grass fields, and more of them.  Right here.  In the City.  San Francisco.  Where there’s no grass fields, let’s grow stuff–food crops, flowers, medicinal herbs, trees, fruit trees.  I am and so are many others.  Let’s tear up pavement and make dirt…

The Millennial generation that I know is smarter.  These are not radical ideas to them.  I can’t take much of the credit but I have proof.  Here’s some…



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