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, October 13, 2012


"Romney is the frontman and apostle of an economic revolution, in which transactions are manufactured instead of products, wealth is generated without accompanying prosperity, and Cayman Islands partnerships are lovingly erected and nurtured while American communities fall apart."
Matt Taibbi; Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital; Rolling Stone (New York); Aug 29, 2012.

1.   Born 14 October 1894 - e.e. cummings
2.   Good YouTube on San Francisco's Natural Areas Program
3.   Knowland Park update - $1 million for persuading voters to approve Measure A1
4.   Shop at Cole Hardware, help
5.   Chronicle article on native plant sales
6.   Friends of Sausal Creek's native plant sale/open house Oct 21
7.   Deep Roots: Poetry & Plants/CNPS East Bay plant sale Oct 27
8.  Bay-Friendly Program wants partners to sign on to letter re invasive plants
9.   Bat Walk and Hike Oct 17, Cupertino
10. SF Port statement re Program Changes at Heron's Head Park
11.  2013 Birds of the San Francisco Bay Area wall calendar - buy online
12.  Free Habitat Workshop at 20th & Florida Sts Oct 19, 5-7 pm
13.  Dan Liberthson tells How It Is with canaries
14.  Feedback: What comes after humans?/tree cutting
15.  Life While-You-Wait by Wislawa Szymborska

The Oct. 19 event with Student Conservation Association & Pick Up America - the time has changed to 12-2p.m for the trash pick up and habitat restoration.

1.  Born 14 October 1894 - e e cummings

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

~ e.e.cummings ~

(Complete Poems 1904-1962)


2.  A perspective on San Francisco's Natural Areas Program


3.  Knowland Park update

NEWS FLASH: Oakland Zoo CEO Joel Parrott admitted last night at a Piedmont League of Women Voters forum on Measure A1 that the Zoo is spending $1 million on its campaign. We always knew we were going to be massively outspent, but this is beyond what we really thought possible.

He also denied the Measure is about paying for the environmentally destructive expansion project into Knowland Park, despite the fact that the measure makes explicit reference to construction, expansion, capital projects and development of a “conservation center”. As those of you following this development over the last several years know, this means the 34,000 sq ft., 3 story ridge-top complex the Zoo wants to construct as a key expansion element. We really do wonder where all this money is coming from, especially when the Zoo claims they don’t have enough to take care of their animals.

It was clear from Dr. Parrott's comments that his goal is to develop the largest Zoo in California, eventually taking over the whole of Knowland Park. We can’t let this happen. PLEASE send a contribution today to help us spread the word about this measure and its impacts on the special place that is Knowland Park.

As we pointed out last night, expansion doesn’t always have to be bricks and mortar - the Zoo could expand its imagination and develop wonderful nature programs, taking kids into the world of Knowland Park and letting them discover nature firsthand. Other places, like Audubon Canyon Ranch in Marin County, do this. Oakland’s kids don’t need a gondola ride and a restaurant to discover nature and learn about conservation. They need adults less focused on empire building and more focused on authentic conservation, which means preserving habitat, not building on it.

As one of our leaders observed last night after the talk, what they plan to build is really more of a De-conservation Center! It’s wrong for the Zoo to spend resources it could be using for the animals on a million-dollar media blitz to get funds to build this supersized expansion project. Help us spread the word, and please send a donation today! We have less than 30 days to let voters know the real choice they are being asked to make.

We support animals and education, too, but we have a different vision of what that means. We don’t support continuing to stress our native animals by bulldozing their habitat, and we don’t support the notion that kids can only learn about nature by riding a gondola to have someone tell them about it!

Learn more about these issues at

Here’s how to write your check so we comply with FPPC requirements:

Payer Line: No on A1 to Save Knowland Park.

Subject Line: Sponsored by East Bay Chapter, California Native Plant Society

If you plan to donate $100 or more (which we could so much use right now!) then the FPPC requires that we collect your occupation and employer. (We do not share any of this information with anyone else but we have to have it for our reporting purposes.)

Send checks to our Treasurer, Lee Ann Smith, 111 Shadow Mountain, Oakland, CA 94605.

Unfortunately, as we’ve said before, campaign contributions aren’t tax deductible.



SaveNature’s Shopping Event with Cole Hardware: Meet the Bugs at the Cole St. store!

You can help conserve threatened habitats and wildlife from around the world by shopping at Cole St. Hardware store on Saturday, October 20th, between 10am - noon.   You'll save 10% off your entire purchase (use the coupon below) and SaveNature will receive 10% of all purchases made by shoppers using the coupon, and your children can meet the bugs from the Insect Discovery Lab!  Introduce your children to the extraordinary diverse world of insects and learn about their key role in critical habitat. Explore the fantastic lives of beetles, millipedes, walking sticks, and many more!

(Coupon wouldn't post.)


5.  Chronicle article on native plant sales
Several local chapters of the California Native Plant Society, including San Francisco's, are hosting plant sales throughout the Bay Area over the next few weeks. This organization's primary purpose is to preserve native plants. Planting local species that are acclimated to your microclimate not only gives you better odds for success, but also supports your area's fauna. Check the website for sales in your area. Proceeds benefit California Native Plant Society.

Details: 1-5 p.m. Oct. 20. Miraloma Park Improvement Club, 350 O'Shaughnessy Blvd. Free admission; cash or check only. (415) 531-2140;

Read more:


6.  The Friends of Sausal Creek's Native Plant Sale and Open House

Sunday, October 21, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Joaquin Miller Native Plant Nursery.

Check out the list of available plants:

Share the flyer with your friends:

Here's the line-up for the day:


10 a.m.: Native Bees by Jen Smith
11 a.m.: Gardening with Natives by The Naturals Landscaping
12:30 p.m.: Raptors of the Watershed by Jenny Papka of Native Bird Connections
1 p.m.: Propagating Natives by Karen Paulsell
2 p.m.: Harlan James Bluegrass Band (Michael Thilgen and Friends)
All Day

The Spider Chick and Her Live Arachnids
Urban Chickens
Alameda County Master Gardeners
Face Painting for Future Gardeners
Native plant experts will be available all day to help shoppers pick appropriate plants for their specific planting areas.  Be sure to arrive early for the best selection.

Plant chauffeurs will be available to help you get your purchases to your car.  We'll have as many boxes as possible, but please feel free to bring your own boxes or crates for your purchases.

Directions: The nursery is located in Joaquin Miller Park on Sanborn Road.  If driving, take the Joaquin Miller Drive exit off of Highway 13 and head uphill.  Turn left onto Sanborn (there are lots of signs, including one in the median that says "Native Plant Nursery").  To reach the nursery, park near the Ranger Station and walk past the yellow gate across Sanborn; the nursery is about 1/4 mile on your left.  On the day of the plant sale, there will be greeters to assist you.

Deep Roots: Poetry & Plants
a part of the 2012 Native Plant Sale benefitting the East Bay Chapter, California Native Plant Society (CNPS)
Saturday, October 27th, 1pm-3pm
at Native Here Nursery, 101 Golf Course Drive, Tilden Park, Berkeley (across the street from the Tilden Golf Course)

featured poets:
Kim Shuck, author of the collection, Smuggling Cherokee and winner of numerous writing awards including the Native Writers of the Americas First Book Award, and the Mary Tall Mountain Award.

Lucille Lang Day is the author of eight poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently The Curvature of Blue. She has also published a children’s book, Chain Letter, and her memoir, Married at Fourteen, is just out from Heyday Press. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in such magazines and anthologies as Atlanta Review, The Hudson Review, The Threepenny Review, and New Poets of the American West. Her website is

Chris Olander is a California Poetry In The Schools (CPITS) poet, eco-educator, and a California State Championship Poetry Coach for Poetry Out Loud.

Kirk Lumpkin is a poet, performer, lyricist, environmentalist, and cultural worker. He is the author of two books of poetry, In Deep and Co-Hearing. He has released two poetry/music CDs with his band The Word-Music Continuum, the self-titled CD The Word-Music Continuum and more recently Sound Poems. He works as the Special Events & Promotions Coordinator of the Ecology Center's Farmers' Markets.

Dennnis Fritzinger is the author of Earth National Park, Tame Wilderness, and is Poetry Editor of Earth First! Journal.

The featured poets will be preceded by an open mic on native plant themes.
For more info: or

From: Kelly Schoonmaker []
Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2012 2:47 PM
Subject: CalGreen Advocacy - Avoidance of Invasive Plants

Dear Bay-Friendly Qualified Professional,

I am writing today because we (the Bay-Friendly Program at StopWaste.Org—The Alameda County Waste Management Authority) are seeking partners to sign on to a letter we are submitting on October 15th to the Building Standards Commission. We are recommending avoiding invasive plants for all construction projects covered by CALGreen. We already have the support of many landscape contractors, nurseries, landscape architects, CLCA, EPA, USGBC. It would be great to get the support of our Bay-Friendly Qualified Professionals.

As you know, invasive plants have impacts on our parks, watersheds, stormwater systems, landfills, hazardous waste facilities (due to remediation techniques), and budgets. The time has come to stop planting more invasives, and the building code is a logical place to make this happen.  This approach is a simple solution that will result in a gradual transition away from the use of invasive plants in California landscapes (not a “ban” on invasives altogether).

Quick Facts about CALGreen and the Current Public Comment draft:
CALGreen is part of the statewide California Building Standards Code and is updated every three years along with all other sections of the building code. The current draft of CALGreen that we are responding to is for the 2013 CALGreen code, set to be adopted in Spring/Summer of 2013 and to begin enforcement starting January 1st, 2014. Therefore, changes to the code will take effect more than a year from now.

Summary of What We’re Proposing:
We are proposing a new mandatory measure in CALGreen that would require projects to avoid the planting of any species categorized as “invasive” in CALGreen covered projects. Existing residential and commercial landscapes will not be affected by this code change, nor will the requirements be retroactive. Avoiding invasives will only apply to construction projects that trigger plan reviews and permits by a jurisdiction having authority. Existing landscapes will only be required to comply with the code when and if renovated as part of an addition or alteration is planned that requires a permit and/or plan review.  As I mentioned above, the idea has widespread support thus far, and we are circulating a letter in order to get cities, counties, state agencies, nonprofits, landscapers, contractors, architects, and nurseries to sign on to our letter.

Why not pursue changes to WELO?
We did consider the WELO path, but had the following concerns:
·         Since its introduction, enforcement of WELO has been spotty, whereas  building code has an effective enforcement structure in place.
·         No WELO update is currently scheduled while building code operates with a triennial revision cycle.
·         WELO captures only permitted projects with landscape areas of 2,500 sf and above.  Meanwhile, there does exist precedent for CALGreen to go above and beyond WELO.  Take, for example the weather-based controller requirement in CalGreen, which applies to all projects with landscape area of 1,000-2,500 sf.

Logistics for Signing on to our Letter:
Deadline: Monday, October 15th is the deadline for submitting comments, so we are asking for signatures by the morning of October 15 at latest.
What we need: Your organization’s logo, your name, position, and (if possible) a jpeg of your signature.
If submitting your own letter:  Attached an editable version of our letter should you desire to edit the content or send your own letter. See the BSC website for instructions and an official comment form:

Our attached letter has the details. I know there’s not much time, and apologize in advance for the short notice. The public comment window for CALGreen code revisions is short, and these advocacy efforts are squeezed in alongside our other duties as a public agency. Any help you can provide, whether that be signing on, spreading the word, or letting us know of potential allies, would be greatly appreciated.

Please feel free to contact Kelly Schoonmaker with any questions.


Bat Man Returns: Bat Walk and Hike
Wednesday, October 17
5:45 pm - 8:00 pm
McClellan Ranch Preserve
22221 McClellan Road
Cupertino [map]
Cost: Free

Dave Johnston, Senior Wildlife Ecologist, returns to lead us once again on his popular bat walk and talk at McClellan Ranch Preserve. Dave will first give a slide show presentation on bats around the world and then lead us on an after dark exploration of the Preserve to find our local bats.

For more information and to register, please visit the Acterra Stewardship Events website.


10.  Port's Statement re. Program Changes at Heron's Head Park

Since the Port of San Francisco opened Heron's Head Park more than a decade ago, its resident wildlife and plant communities, park visitors, students of all ages, and volunteers from around the City and around the world have enjoyed the environmental education programs provided by the Port of San Francisco and its non-profit partner, Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ).

LEJ is an environmental education and youth empowerment organization created specifically to address the ecological and health concerns of Bayview Hunters Point and the surrounding communities of southeast San Francisco.  LEJ also operates The EcoCenter at Heron's Head Park, a demonstration of green building technology and vital educational resource to the community.

Recognizing the need for a new model for providing educational programs at the EcoCenter and Heron’s Head Park, LEJ has informed the Port that it will no longer be providing this programmatic focus beyond 2012.  The Port, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, and LEJ will continue to staff previously scheduled programs and events throughout the end of this year.  If you have a program scheduled at Heron's Head Park, please email or call the Recreation and Parks Department, Youth Stewardship Program at 415.831.6330,ext.200.

The Port's commitment to environmental education and public engagement in all the resources that Heron's Head Park offers has not changed. Working with our partners and stakeholders, the Port looks forward to creating a new vital and sustainable operational structure for the park and the EcoCenter in 2013.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact or


11.  Golden Gate Audubon has just produced a gorgeous 2013 Birds of the San Francisco Bay Area wall calendar.

It's a great way to bring nature into even the most bland office or cubicle. :-)  The calendar features over two dozen color photos of owls, egrets, warblers and more, by some of the region's best wildlife photographers. The cover photo of a Black Oystercatcher by Jerry Ting gives you an idea of the quality. It's printed on glossy high-quality recycled paper. The photographers all donated their work, and the $20 cost is a benefit for GGAS' conservation and environmental education programs. They make great holiday gifts.

People can buy them at our office or order them online at

Please forward to interested parties:


Join Plant*SF director Jane Martin and local ecologist Josiah Clark at the newly established ‘20th Street Biophilic Streetscape’ for a free Habitat Workshop to learn how this project provides habitat and forage for local creatures. Topics covered include an introduction to native plant and animal species, local stone and soil, micro-topography and the construction of bee homes and bird boxes.

Friday, October 19th – 5-7pm
Meet at the corner of 20th and Florida Streets.

Space is limited; Pre-registration is required. Please email your name, phone number, email address and preferred session date to Children welcome, please indicate age if under 16.

Jane Martin, Director
San Francisco, CA - USA
415 431 2777


        How It Is

You'd think they'd know how,
canary parents:
bumbling about raising two young
huddled in the nest
barely breathing
except when it's time to eat.

So haphazard, instinct that
should be sure:
parents mating in the midst
of mothering, for there is no
fathering. Yet he helps,
puking food into her beak
that she stuffs into theirs
even as he screws her again.

It's incredible that any young
ever grow up. Some do end as
puddles on the cage floor
miserably dead, ignored―
but some do
feather, fledge, and fly.

    Dan Liberthson

(Dan will be reading his poetry at the SHARP clubhouse, 1738 - 9th Av, near Moraga, on Sunday Oct 14, 4.30 pm)


14.  Feedback

On Oct 9, 2012, at 10:02 PM, ron maykel wrote:
Hi Jake

I am moved by Jim Bishop's "Wonderful World of Plants"

Perhaps, after the great hullabaloo plants will be the meek that inherit the earth............

and perhaps they will have the last laugh and word, as they say.....We told you so!

Dream on, Ron.  Lots of things will inherit the earth.  What?  Most likely dandelions, thistles, rats, raccoons, crabgrass, skunks, ivy, blackberry, coyotes, kudzu, cockroaches, flies, crows, get the picture.  Survivors. 

There will be many survivors.  They're not likely to be organisms we humans like and need. 

Remember humans?  The ones that spread over the globe like a bacterial slime?

Pity.  Some of them were so good.  Some were great--people like Michelangelo, Socrates, Freud, Darwin, Galileo....sorry, I get all choked up when I think of them.  Their chances of surviving into the future look extremely problematic.

On Oct 9, 2012, at 7:43 PM, Nancy Rossman wrote:
Jake, I feel like resigning from the native plant society, audubon and sierra club when I heard they support the SF RPD Natural Areas Program to remove 18,500 healthy trees from our city parks. I can't see oaks growing in Glen Canyon, what do you make of this?
Nancy:  Thank you for this email.  It gives me a chance to respond to the misinformation being propagated.

The subject is too big to give a complete response in this email, but I would like to give a quick sketch and a caution about believing everything you read or hear.

For starters, there are at least two different items that may have been conflated here: 

1.  The entrance to Glen Park off Elk St, where the Recreation-Park Dept is renovating the recreation area and entrance.  The Natural Areas Program is not involved with this project, which includes removing trees.  This has gone through a lengthy community process, and the neighborhood has approved the plan.  I will not talk about it here, but I mention it because the SF Forest Alliance is making noise about the tree removals.

I paste here an item from the Glen Park Assn website, followed by a comment from the neighborhood:

October 12, 2012 10:57 am
These very well meaning folks are actually opposing what amounts to good forest management practices. Just last week, 2 old trees came down on their own. This is not a good way to manage trees in an urban setting. It is only proper to remove old, damaged, and diseased trees, and replace them with young trees. Such action can hardly be considered deforestation. It is done for the safety and well being of all who enjoy the park.  Sally Ross

2.  The Natural Areas Program, which is charged with managing the 32 wild parks the City owns), must contend with, among other responsibilities, approximately 11,000 trees on Mt Davidson.  They were planted by Adolf Sutro in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and they have become old all at nearly the same time.  The understory of this tree plantation consists of primarily two plants, English ivy and Himalayan blackberry.  The ivy is climbing 150-200 feet into the crowns of the trees and is killing the trees, many of which have fallen down, and others will be falling shortly.  The understory is choked with vegetation, making it impossible for the trees to regenerate, as seeds are unable to germinate.  It is a dangerous situation for humans, and is a biological wasteland for the many animals that used to earn a living here.  Those who love the trees should support the Natural Areas Program.

The people trying to stir up trouble--we have enough problems as it is, with severe staff and funding shortages and a surfeit of intractable problems--have no knowledge of the problems of managing large plantations of trees.  They have no arboricultural background, but not knowing doesn't seem to bother them and doesn't stop them from trying to prevent those who do know from doing their job.

This is a large subject, and I can only sketch the beginning of an answer.  I hope it is enough to raise questions in your mind about the reality of the complaints.


Life While-You-Wait

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it's mine. I can't exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play's all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can't conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can't take back,
stars you'll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run ?
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven't seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn't even clear my throat offstage).

You'd be wrong to think that it's just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I'm standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there's no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I've done.

~ Wislawa Szymborska ~

(Poems New and Collected 1957-1997,
trans. S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)

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