Rotary Nature Center Meeting Report: June 2nd 2018

5 proposals were presented and discussed at the June 2nd meeting at the Lake Merritt Garden Center.

Barcode the Lake – Damon Tighe of California Center for Natural History

Birds Are Natural Ambassadors for Nature, Science, Art, & Community – Cindy Margulis of Golden Gate Audubon

Knowing Nature Thru Art –  Jennifer Jastrab of Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants

Lake Merritt Observatory – Katie Noonan of Lake Merritt Institute (among other things!)

Exploring Urban Park Biodiversity – Donald Cooper (Eddie Dunbar presented at the meeting) of Insect Sciences Museum of California

The Core group is having follow up meetings with these groups & individuals to see what the next steps are. Karis Griffin indicated the Center would open sometime this summer, though no firm date was presented.

It was a little disappointing that we did not have the opportunity to present our own proposal due to a missed email.

Rotary Nature Center Update – June 1

From today’s update from OPRY&D tomorrow Saturday, June 2nd, we will hear five proposals for programs at the Rotary Nature Center.

June 2nd

9:00am – noon:30

Lakeside Park Garden Center

666 Bellevuey Ave

For each proposal, there will be about 10 minutes for a high level summary and 10 minutes for community questions and support. The five presentations will be the following:

  1.  Birds Are Natural Ambassadors for Nature, Science,  Art, & Community –Cindy Margulis
  2. Bar Code the Lake – Damon Tighe
  3. Learning to Know Nature Through the Senses – Jennifer Jastrab
  4. S.T.E.M. Projects for Youth at the Rotary Nature Center – Katie Noonan
  5. Taking Wing  –  Donald Cooper

Earth Day Clean Up

April 21st, 2018, we organized a clean up crew through Adopt a Spot. About 12 of us over the course of 3 hours — members of Community for Lake Merritt, City Staff, the Rotary, and others — worked to clean up the grounds of the Rotary Nature Center — in particular the Bee Garden.

rnc before IMG_0753

Some 30+ bags of garden waste later things were looking much better. There is still plenty of work to do, so we hope to organize more regular work on the grounds.

rnc after IMG_1075

We also planted some Dutchman’s Pipevine as well to hopefully provide a good spot for wandering Pipevine Swallowtails.

Next meeting, Sat, Apr 7, 2018: 9am-noon

My App Timehop noted a sad anniversary today: that of the closing of the Rotary Nature Center last year.

We’re finally coming to some concrete steps moving forward to a new and reinvigorated Center.

Todays’s update form Karis Griffin of OPRYD, brought to light her committee to govern and guide this effort, a fine crew of Lake Merritt stalwarts: C.J. Hirschfield (E.D. of Fairyland and involved with Rotary Club and many other things), Jennie Gerard (a veteran of city hall, and founder of Weed Warriors, and Lake Merritt Advocates), James Robinson (E.D. of Lake Merritt Institute), and the aforementioned Alan Briskin (the facilitator hired by the city).

The next public meeting is set for Saturday, April 7th, 2018 from 9am to noon. This meeting will be held at Studio One, 365 45th Street, in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to parksandrec@oaklandnet.com

The committee went together this past Thursday to the Berkeley Shorebird Park Nature Center, to visit a potential model for our Nature Center (well worth a visit if you have not been — they have a pretty amazing docent program too).

The agenda for this meeting is

A Center Piece of Lake Merritt

A follow up from the Jan 24th meeting, Karis Griffin from Oakland Parks, Recreation, and Youth Development details how they are currently moving forward. They are selecting someone to facilitate the process with a goal “to create a new Rotary Nature Center that is the center piece of Lake Merritt, the nature-oriented learning institution it was destined to be.”

Met and Greeted

January 24th, 2018, some 60+ people came out to the Lake Merritt Sailboat House on very rainy night to talk about the Rotary Nature Center and what it might become at an Oakland Parks, Recreation, and Youth Development (OPRYD) “Meet & Greet”.

OPRYD was represented by Nicholas Williams, Karis Griffin (along with others like Dianne Boyd, and some the remaining  staff of the Center, Leanne and Michelle) . The  audience represented a wide swath of neighbors and organizations working around the lake: eg The Rotary Club, The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, Measure DD Committee, Lake Merritt Institute, Oakland Museum of California, our group, (Community for Lake Merritt), Alameda Beekeepers, Golden Gate Audubon, Oakland Beautification Council, Insect Sciences Museum of California, California Center for Natural History, and more There were scientists, illustrators, naturalists, interested neighbors, and a kid who got her momto come.

We’d been gathering our allies through our petition, social posts, and emails, to allied groups. C.J. Hirschfield of the Rotary Club, and Jennie Gerard of Weed Warriors and Lake Merritt Advocates in particular deserve much thanks for their efforts). A huge shoutout to our board member Katie Noonan for her efforts to get people interested and involved.

The meeting itself was simple, Nicholas and Karis opened and answered some questions about the closure and the base level plans. Jeri Martinez from Alameda Beekeepers talked about the state of the beehive from the Center  which currently resides in Jeri’s backyard, waiting for the right time to return to their queendom at the Center. Cindy Margulis from Golden Gate Audubon gave an update on the heron colony and plans to attract them back to the lake. She also gave an impassioned coda as to why the Center is so important.

From there we talked a little about the process… next step for the larger community, a meeting Saturday March 17th, 2018 for people to propose projects for the Rotary Nature Center. In between that time, the city will be hiring a facilitator and creating a committee to come up with a strategic framework.

Nicholas said he want-s to honor the original vision of the Center, to protect the tradition with a 2018 spin. When pressed he assured the crowd that it will always be a Nature Center

OPRYD seems interested in taking guidance from the community in planning the future of the Center. We hope we will see continued communication from staff on how things are progressing

So…

  • There’s a lot of work to do.
  • Lots of challenges remain.
  • We have a community and staff who are ready and willing to be engaged.
  • Stay tuned for more about the March 17th meeting and how to keep involved!
  • Sign up to stay in touch!

Oakland Autumn Lights Festival

In just a couple days, the Lake Merritt Garden will be opening up for its annual Autumn Lights Festival. Community for Lake Merritt is helping out the Pollinator Posse with a butterfly themed exhibit in the pollinator garden.

We’ll also be having a little UV light critter hunt — no live critters — but some exemplars of cooly lit local California fauna.

The festival is Thu, Fri, and Sat, October 19-21, 6-11pm. Make sure to get tickets in advance, it does sell out. The even is rain or shine.

http://autumnlightsfestival.org

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