In the wake of hurricanes and flood, earthquakes and fire, resilience has become a powerful concept.
Not just responding to disaster, but responding “woke,” if you will: aware of the consequences, the long-term pitfalls and opportunities of whatever response is made. Resilience is a strategy for an uncertain future, a step beyond “sustainability” – which no longer seems quite enough in the face of climate change.
At a recent Baylands Discovery Walk on the fringe of Dickson Ranch Restoration Area – formed in October 2015 when a levee at Salt Point was intentionally breeched, to allow sea water to return to what had been a hay farm – a dozen or so walkers made the full 2.5 mile hike to the Eliot Trail’s terminus, and back again, for a journey of well over ten thousand steps (according to Fitbit).
The Baylands Discovery Walk was put on by Common Ground, one of nine “teams” that have taken up a “challenge” from Resilient By Design, a year-long San Francisco Bay Area project to study sea-level rise and field ideas about what bayside communities can do to remain strong, resilient. Other teams are scattered around the Bay Area, from Vallejo’s Team Uplift to the Public Sediment team in Fremont.
At the May 5 walk, shallow, still-developing wetlands spread in a silvery expanse to the right, and Highway 37 hummed a half-mile away to the left. A thick band of rye grass, on both sides of the paved walkway, signaled that for over a century hay farmers cultivated the sodden, low-lying soil.
The ADA-compliant path is one of the latest additions to the San Francisco Bay Trail still in development, a project of the Association of Bay Area Governments, or ABAG. The hope is that eventually walking or biking around the entire 500-mile circumference of the bay will be possible. There are still a lot of lacunae in the route, but the plans are there and some lengthy sections already in place.
Maureen Gaffney, of the Bay Trail group, was informal leader for the hike, as much for her own expertise as for shepherding the voice of Doug McConnell, the longtime Bay Area television travel host (“Bay Area Backroads” among others). Gaffney held up a wireless speaker to play the 14 successive entries in McConnell’s audio tour package for the San Francisco Bay Trail, accessible in the field from the Vizzit app.
“If you look up you can see what the Pacific Flyway looks like, one of the busiest bird superhighways on the planet,” intones McConnell from the handheld speaker. We look up: an empty white sky in early May. “Restoring the marshlands will give these birds a critical refuge during their long flights, a safe place to rest, eat, and fuel up for the next legs of their journey.”
Though tens of thousands of waterfowl do converge here during certain times of the year – including the rare California Clapper rail, one of two endangered species the wetlands support – this is an admitted “lull” in birding season at Sears Point, and on this day the birding is thin: redwing blackbirds, Canada geese, a great heron. (Notably, in our group there are several digital SLR cameras, and plenty of cell phones, but not a single pair of binoculars.)
The May 5 outing was a demonstration of the Common Ground team’s project, and also a field introduction to Resilient by Design, a project to study the bay’s inevitable confrontations with sea-level rise, and what to do about it before it gets here.
Resilient By Design Summit
After months of research and exploration, 9 teams will present design ideas for a more resilient Bay Area.
Fri, May 18, 2018
1 - 5 p.m.: Lessons learned from the Resilient by Design Challenge and next steps for implementation.
5 - 9 p.m.: Celebration culminating the Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge.
Rock Wall Wine Company
2301 Monarch St.
Alameda, California 94501