In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own, which is the chief reason for that kind of reception it meets in the world, and that so very few are offended with it. -Jonathan Swift, satirist

1.   No Wall on Northeast Waterfront Referendum qualifies for November ballot!!
2.   Beach Chalet soccer fields decision appeal loses - on to Coastal Commission
3.  Los Angeles Times runs provocative series on overpopulation
4.   While a picture may be worth 1000 words, a soundscape is worth a thousand pictures
5.   Sunday Streets in Mission District tomorrow, the 5th
6.   Feedback: insanity/Mary Oliver/ravens and crows
7.   More feedback:  another poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
8.   Summer Art Show and stroll in Half Moon Bay tomorrow, the 5th
9.   August events in Claremont Canyon
10. Get involved in East Bay - beaucoup choices
11.  Become citizen scientists and untangle mysteries of dragonfly migration
12.  SciAm potpourri, including new beginning for climate change discussion
13.  The Ultimate Social Network: microbes or people?
14.  Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo
15.  Silly statutes


Also, a new Poll Shows S.F. Voters Strongly Oppose Waterfront Height Limit Increase for the 8 Washington Condo Project By More Than a 2-1 Margin.  Read on.

Thank you for all of your hard work and generous donations.  But this is only the beginning.  We now need to prepare for a tough election campaign that we are going to have to wage against a very well-funded opponent.  In order to do so, we must begin to raise the funds for a campaign right now.  Please be an early donor to the next phase of our campaign by making as generous a donation as you can to “No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront” and send them to P.O. Box 330476, San Francisco, CA 94133.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

“This is an historic day that shows just how effective a citizens’ coalition working together for a waterfront they care deeply about can be,” said Jon Golinger, Campaign Director for the No Wall on the Waterfront Campaign.  “The political establishment said there was no way we could collect enough signatures in less than 30 days to qualify a referendum and that we shouldn’t bother trying.  But now, instead of back-room politics ramming through a special waterfront height increase exemption for an ill-conceived project, the people will have the chance to decide.”

Our campaign headquarters remains open and you are most welcome to drop by at 15 Columbus Avenue. If you have any questions please call the campaign (415-894-7008) or visit the website at

Thank you for your support and for being a part of this historic campaign.


1.          San Francisco Board of Appeals = very un-appealing!  Ignored and rejected again. . . .
2.          Next step  -  a NEW Appeal to the California Coastal Commission!   Help us with outreach and to do this Appeal -- donate today!
3.          Plan to sign on to the appeal - we'll send an alert when the forms are ready.
4.          Learn more about our attorney for the BOA, Brooke O'Hanley.

1.          Board of Appeals hearing.  The Board of Appeals voted 4 - 0 to reject our appeal.  We expected to lose - this is a tough board to succeed at.  But we were still surprised at some of the odd comments by both Board members and City staff.  You can watch the hearing   on SFGTV - video on demand.

Our favorite quote of the evening was from our attorney, Brooke O'Hanley, of Lozeau-Drury, LLP:
" I am an environmental attorney. I am also a soccer player. I played youth, college and professional soccer. I have also coached youth and college soccer.   I absolutely love the game of soccer, and I love nature, but I do not believe one should be sacrificed for the other. Fortunately, we do not have to choose between soccer and nature, if we are smart and strategic."

Thanks to everyone who came down to City Hall, despite knowing that we probably would not prevail.  Your dedication inspires us all.

2.          Help us to finance our outreach and our NEW Appeal to the California Coastal Commission (CCC)!    In the next few days, we will be filing an appeal to the California Coastal Commission.  Help us to protect Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach!  Donate Now.  You may now contribute with either Check or Credit Card. 

3.          Plan to Sign on to the appeal!  We will  have forms for you to sign on to the CCC appeal -- we'll get them out to you in the next few days.  We'll  have a short period of time -- Be on the lookout for that email!



Don't speak to me of shortage.  My world is vast and has more than enough--for no more than enough.  There is a shortage of nothing, save will and wisdom; but there is a longage of people. Garrett Hardin

L.A. Times Runs Provocative Series on Overpopulation

Beyond 7 Billion

The series is provocative, compelling, fascinating and shocking reporting that’s backed up by lots of stats and charts, plus still and video images. The first article, “The Biggest Generation: Fertility rates fall, but global population explosion goes on,” leads off with the story of a couple in India who married at the ages of 10 and 11. (Yes, 10 and 11!) The union soon produces a child, followed by another. But what’s surprising in this young couple’s story is that the husband rebels against strong family and cultural traditions and stops at two children. “We cannot afford it,” he says.

How population growth has been absent in public discourse is discussed, along with the often limited access to contraception in areas where it’s most needed and the bitter battles over family planning in the United States. The articles cover “covert contraception,” camel caravans that deliver medical supplies (since camels are common in Kenya, men are more likely to trust the health counselors that come on them) and the population youth bulge that, combined with lack of economic opportunities, helps fuel civil strife.

As well, it addresses the persistence of hunger and starvation, the limits of the Green Revolution, the impacts of China’s one-child policy, how Earth has been most altered through intense population growth and how public policy can dramatically influence population growth, among many other topics all tied to growth.

There are more than enough cautionary tales in this series to silence even the overpopulation deniers – you’d think – but the deniers persist, as seen in some of the reader comments in response to the articles. That said, the important takeaway for me is that the Times committed the resources to this most important issue facing humanity and, by doing so, is helping to get overpopulation back in mainstream discussion.

Maria Fotopoulos

Read it and share it!,0,7213271.htmlstory

"The comfort of the rich depends upon the abundant supply of the poor."  Voltaire

when he killed a bird, he killed its song
    when he killed the song, he killed himself
(attributed to "Chief Seattle")

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a soundscape is worth a thousand pictures.      

YEARS ago, when selective logging was first introduced, a community near an old-growth forest in the Sierra Nevada was assured that the removal of a few trees here and there would have no impact on the area’s wildlife. Based on the logging company’s guarantees, the local residents agreed to the operation....On June 21, 1988, I recorded a rich dawn chorus in California’s pristine Lincoln Meadow. It was a biome replete with the voices of Lincoln’s sparrows, MacGillivray’s warblers, Williamson’s sapsuckers, pileated woodpeckers, golden-crowned kinglets, robins and grosbeaks, as well as squirrels, spring peepers and numerous insects. I captured them all.

When I returned a year later, nothing appeared to have changed at first glance...But to the ear — and to the recorder — the difference was shocking. I’ve returned 15 times since then, and even years later, the density and diversity of voices are still lost. There is a muted hush, broken only by the sound of an occasional sparrow, raptor, raven or sapsucker. The numinous richness of the original biophony is gone.

The poet Robert Hass cautioned in his poem After Goethe:

“The birds are silent in the woods.

Just wait: Soon enough

You will be quiet too.”

Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.        R. Search


5.  Sunday Streets

The four part Mission pilot has quickly come to an end, and the final Sunday Streets in the Mission will take place this Sunday, August 5th. Come out for one last spin around the Mission, and bring your dancing shoes! We have Swing Dancing, Square Dancing, Zydeco, Zumba, and more! Brenda Perdue, Zumba Fitness, Zumba Toning, and Zumbatomic Instructor, will be set up on 24th and Capp from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosting all types of FREE demos, so bring some extra water and towel! For a full list of activities, visit our website!

Check out the Tricycle Music Fest West 2012!!
With rockstar support from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Library, Tricycle Music Fest West presents free family rock concerts for its fourth year. Kicking off August 5th at theMission Branch Library in partnership with Sunday Streets, rolling through neighborhood libraries, and concluding with a costume ball finale on Oct. 28 at the Main Library.

Be a part of Sunday Streets!
We have two Sunday Streets events in August, so we need all of the help we can get to make this happen! When you volunteer for Sunday Streets, not only are you helping to make Sunday Streets possible, but you also get a cool Sunday Streets t-shirt, complimentary lunch, and invitations to special volunteer parties! Be part of the Sunday Streets volunteer team by clicking here to sign up today!

Make a donation to the Residents displaced by the Duboce/Valencia Fire!
On Sunday, May 6th, there was a 4-alarm fire in the apartment building on the corner of Valencia St. and Duboce Ave. The residents lost their homes and all of their belongings. Nearby neighbors and other community members worked with the Community Living Campaign to set up a collection fund for fire survivors. We have been working to spread the word about their efforts, as the funds they raise will go directly to displaced residents. Please follow this link to make a donation to assist those who lost their homes in the fire. Thanks in advance for anything you can give!


6.  Feedback

Eric Mills, Half-crazed in Oakieland :
And Kurt Vonnegut said, "Insanity is hereditary.  You catch it from your children."

Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage. -Ray Bradbury
Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you. -Carl Jung
When one guy sees an invisible man, he's a nut case; ten people see him, it's a cult; ten million people see him, it's a respected religion. -Richard Jeni, comedian and actor (1957-2007)
Glad to know you're still around, Eric, half-crazed or not.

On Aug 2, 2012, at 7:32 AM, Norman Gershenz wrote:
thank you for sprinkling the wonder of Mary Oliver to us all.
I read her often and re-read her. She knows where the mockingbird sings, and, knows that it will bring her luck.

On Jul 30, 2012, at 11:31 PM, Adrian Cotter wrote:
There are other clues: behavioral – ravens fly higher and will ride thermals , crows tend to nest with some helpers, raven nests are more visible.
I don't understand what you mean by "nest with helpers".  You mean other crows assist in building the nest?

One question I have included in my newsletter a couple of times--but have never received a response--is what accounts for whether one has ravens or crows in a given area.  What are the competitive advantages that favors one or another?  I have been unable to find a clue, but I certainly noticed a changing dynamic in my neighborhood west of Mt Sutro.

I have some raven/crow stuff in my computer.  Some I have posted in the past in my newsletter.
Hey Jake, "nest with helpers": crows are a little more familial when they are nesting. Fledglings from the previous year(s?) will come back to help or perhaps just be with their parents. I think "In the Company of Crows and Ravens" talks about this some. I find where they are near raven nests, there are usually 5-7 of them around.

" What are the competitive advantages that favors one or another?" this is a fine question. I know you've said in the past that the crow population in your neighborhood has grown a lot. Curious if you know if you were seeing nesting pairs or flocks?

I don't know that I have a good answer, I know that crows are pretty aggressive towards ravens, and if they had the numbers they might have driven any ravens out. I do find that crows seems a little less tied to particular nesting locations. Ravens will come back to the same building (less sure about trees), crows go to different blocks in the same area.

Ravens do seem to like to have some piece of forested park near them. While a bunch nest in the north east of the city, none of the flocks spend any of their time there. You'll find them in the greatest concentrations here in SF in or near forested areas: there was one group who spent a few months on Sutro near the tower this spring, enjoying Cole valley for its flying potential. Golden Gate park is a big haven especially around the polo fields, as is San Bruno (especially on the north side of the road that divides it), but they do move around, and spread out. Someone at the lecture was telling me that Tank Hill is a popular spot for them.

Crows on the other hand, they seem to like valleys for nesting, and lawns for hanging out. The biggest concentrations I've seen of crows are at Fort Mason, and in the South West of the city.

My guess is that they have a fairly big overlap in where they like to forage, but maybe prefer different types of trees and areas for roosting (they certainly seem to prefer different types of trees for nesting). You don't see many crows by the dump or at Candlestick, or at golden gate park, or ocean beach for that matter.

It could also be that the ravens that hung out near you were there a long time, and passed away, and no ravens came in to claim the territory (they do defend their territory from other ravens to some degree).
I don't find this a satisfactory guess.  The change was pretty dramatic and happened in a relatively short time period.  There were many ravens and in not too long a time there were a lot of crows, and no ravens.  Although they are both intelligent and interesting birds to watch, I find ravens more interesting, in large part because they are so playful.  Crows are somewhat playful but not as conspicuously so.  I've said several times about ravens that inasmuch as they are going to inherit the earth it's good that are inventive and fun-loving.  Then the crows moved in, casting a small cloud on that little wish.

But it is hard to say. I'm going to try and be more public about my observations from now own.

Thanks for the article too! I just recently saw a raven tweaking the tail of pelican, several times in a row until the pelican got annoyed and flew away.

Bernd Heinrich's books are well worth a read.

From AWAD:
The big thieves hang the little ones. -Czech proverb
Your Czech proverb today, "The big thieves hang the little ones", reminds me of Shakespeare in King Lear: "The usurer hangs the cozener."
(cozen - "verb tr.: To trick or deceive)


7.  More Feedback

Jeanne Halpern:
Jake, Though I opened your latest Nature News too late to go to any of the events, I so much appreciate your including "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye, a poem that knows no deadline.  Nor do any of her poems.  When Louis and I led our first Sierra Club "Lovers Hike" on Mt. Tam in February 1997 - fifteen years ago! - we recited about twenty love poems along the route, and our last one was Nye's "Valentine for Ernest Mann," with the same perfection of detail as "Kindness."  It sent me back to an anthology of her work, Words under the Words.  Thanks so much for this delicious hour with an old friend.  Jeanne

Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two."
And expect it to be handed back to you on a shiny plate
Still, I like your spirit. Anyone who says, "Here's my address, Write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottom of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way mat lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious
man who lived in a serious way. Nothing
was ugly just because my world said so.
He really liked those skunks. So, he reinvented them as valentines and they became beautiful.  At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding in the eyes of skunks for centuries crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the
odd sock in your drawer, the person you
almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.


8.  Hello  Jake,
Join us this Sunday from 2-5pm for the opening of our Summer Art Show and SOMA Arts Summer Stroll. Delightful scenes of giant whales, sandy beaches, rolling fields of lupines, and many more scenes from the San Mateo Coast grace the gallery walls. Meet the artists, and enjoy refreshments and live music while you enjoy 18 artists' work, greeting cards and matted prints.  600 - 800 blocks of Main Street, Half Moon Bay

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of artwork goes to support the mission of Coastside Land Trust to preserve and protect open space along the San Mateo County coast. To learn more about what we do, or to find out about the Gallery visit our website


9.  August in Claremont Canyon

Tuesday August 7, Garber Park Habitat Restoration Summer stewardship continues through August with special attention to Cape Ivy, Poison Hemlock and Himalayan Blackberry removal. We made great progress along the Lower Loop Trail in July but there's still more work to do.  (Click here to read our blog post). The long-awaited fuel reduction project funded by WPAD will begin soon. You can help us search out and flag the native plants to make sure they are not removed along with the flash fuels. We will meet at 10 and work til Noon. Meet at the Evergreen Lane entrance to Garber Park. The nearest address is 144 Evergreen; from Alvarado Road, take Slater Lane and turn right on Evergreen and go to the end.  For more information, email To learn more about Garber Park and the Garber Park Stewards, visit our blog:

Saturday, August 11, Stewardship in the Upper Canyon  A lot of you have been enjoying hiking, bird watching and dog walking along the trails in the upper canyon. On Saturday August 11 we'll be installing additional steps along the upper portion of the Willow Trail and doing trail maintenance along the way. If you can't join us then, please help by picking up any trash or dog droppings that others may have left behind. The trails are looking pretty great but your help maintaining them is always appreciated. We'll meet at 10 AM at Sign Post 29, 1.5 miles up on Claremont Avenue from Ashby. We will work from 10 until Noon as usual.

Saturday, August 18, Garber Park Habitat Restoration 10 AM until Noon. We will continue the activities from August 7 as described above.

For hikes, stewardship and restoration work, please remember to wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and sturdy boots or shoes.

SAVE THE DATE:  Saturday morning September 15 is Creek to Bay Day and we'll be celebrating at Harwood Creek in Garber Park.

Get Involved

One and all can become involved in environmental causes. It's easy these days. One can, first of all, donate to one of the many national and international organizations. Whatever your ecological viewpoint, you're almost certain to find one simpatico.

Then there are those just trying to make the neighborhood a bit better. Like-minded people working towards some attainable objective. Contributing to these groups usually involves more than whipping out your credit card. While they welcome your money, they need your labor and your brains even more.

I know of a number of earnest groups that can use your help. There are, for example, a number of native gardeners trying to improve public space. These include  El Cerrito Community Garden and  Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden.
On a larger scale  Friends of  Five Creeks, working in Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, and the Richmond area, and Friends of Sausal Creek in Oakland can use your help. Both organizations have outgrown their original missions and have become important forces for native plant restoration within the East Bay.
The "Save" groups are advocacy organizations. All are worthy, you will have to decide which, if any, is your cup of tea. In geographic order but not order of importance, they are Save Strawberry Canyon, Claremont Canyon Conservancy, Save Knowland Park, and Save Tesla Park.

You're sure to discover others of these volunteer opportunities if you ask around. You will likely find that volunteering for these organizations will be one of the most satisfying experiences of your life.

From East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden newsletter August 2012


Help Untangle the Mysteries of Migration

One August, a couple of years ago, friends came back from trips to Oregon's coast with the same question: What's up with all those dragonflies? They'd all noticed that the air over the beaches was full of thousands of red-colored dragonflies. The answer to their question was migration, variegated meadowhawks following the coast as they headed south for the winter.

...To help fill the knowledge gap, the Xerces Society joined with several other organizations across North America to found the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (  MDP partners are researching where dragonflies migrate, overwinter, and breed, and are documenting sightings of dragonflies from citizens across the continent.

There are two ways to get involved and help untangle the mysteries of dragonfly migration - visit above website.

OBSERVATIONS: Skin Bacteria Are Your Friends
The vast microcosm of bacterial, viral and fungal life that lives in and on us is not only mostly harmless but is actually necessary for our own good health

NEWS: Tropical Parks Fail to Protect Animals and Plants [Slide Show]
A new survey shows that even protected areas are failing to stem the tide of plant and animal extinctions

OBSERVATIONS: Berkeley Laser Fires Pulses Hundreds of Times More Powerful Than All the World's Electric Plants Combined

OBSERVATIONS: Strength in Numbers: Citizen Scientists Lending More Helping Hands (and Handhelds) to Help the Pros

CLIMATEWIRE: Drought Could Aid Crop-Destroying Pests
Hot and dry conditions favor pests, such as spider mites, that can destroy crops

Last paragraph:
Crop loss devastation

Yet a major die-off of any insect population isn't necessarily a good thing. Ecosystems rely on a host of organisms in order to function. Despite the stigma attached to bugs, many of them perform services necessary for a productive ecological community.

High temperatures are detrimental to predatory insects that aid farmers, protecting crops from pest invasions, said Bradford Hawkins, a professor with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. These insects can even reduce the need for a farmer to use pesticides, saving the industry time and money, he added.

PLUGGED IN: New Beginning for the Climate Change Discussion
Thursday 26th July saw the launch of, a new English language science blog network., the brand-new home for Nature Network bloggers, forms part of the SciLogs international collection of blogs which already exist in German,Spanish and Dutch. To celebrate this addition to the NPG science blogging family,some of the NPG blogs are publishing posts focusing on “Beginnings”.
Participating in this cross-network blogging festival is’s Soapbox Science blog, Scitable’s Student Voices blog and bloggers from,,Scitable and Scientific American’s Blog Network. Join us as we explore the diverse interpretations of beginnings – from scientific examples such as stem cells to first time experiences such as publishing your first paper. You can also follow and contribute to the conversations on social media by using the #BeginScights hashtag.
The discussion surrounding climate-change has reached a precipice, with one of the world’s most respected skeptics public conversion. This weekend, Professor Richard A. Muller publically acknowledged that his analysis of the data shows that climate change is real – and that humans are almost entirely the cause of it.
This is an about-face from Dr. Muller’s previous skeptic stance. One might recall his vocal criticisms of the landmark 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.), which concluded that most of the global warming over the past 50 years could be attributed to humans. But, over the last three years, the UC Berkeley Physics Professor has independently verified the findings presented in the I.P.C.C. report.

(Perhaps that may take care of the skeptics.  Now what about the deniers, who outnumber them?  JS)


The Ultimate Social Network
Researchers who study the friendly bacteria that live inside all of us are starting to sort out who is in charge - microbes or people? 

(Opening paragraphs):
Biologists once thought that human beings were physiological islands, entirely capable of regulating their own internal workings.  Our bodies made all the enzymes needed for breaking down food and using its nutrients to power and repair our tissues and organs.  Signals from our own tissues dictated body states such as hunger or satiety.  The specialized cells of our immune system taught themselves how to recognize and attack dangerous microbes - pathogens - while at the same time sparing our own tissues.

Over the past 10 years or so, however, researchers have demonstrated that the human body is not such a neatly self-sufficient island after all.  It is more like a complex ecosystem - a social network - containing trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit our skin, genital areas, mouth and especially intestines.

*  Bacterial cells in the body outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1.  Yet only recently have researchers begun to elucidate the beneficial roles these microbes play in fostering health.

*  Some of these bacteria possess genes that encode for beneficial compounds that the body cannot make on its own.  Other bacteria seem to train the body not to overreact to outside threats.

*  Advances in computing and gene sequencing are allowing investigators to create a detailed catalogue of all the bacterial genes that make up this so-called microbiome.

*  Unfortunately, the inadvertent destruction of beneficial microbes by the use of antibiotics, among other things, may be leading to an increase in auto-immune disorders and obesity.

Scientific American August 2012


Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River.  Circles in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon, within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

~ Joy Harjo ~

(How We Become Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001)


15.  Silly statutes

In Ohio (?) or Cleveland:
It's illegal for five women to live in the same place
To have a slot machine in an outhouse
You must buy a hunting license to kill mice
It's illegal to make fish drunk

No map may be sold in Lima, Ohio that doesn't show Lima.
In Poland, Ohio, if a dog misbehaves, cops can bite a dog in order to keep them quiet.
    (Dogs are said to dread being bitten.  True?)

Hastily-scribbled notes from programs of Says You.

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