Solstice Card

In this very difficult year, Cesar Chavez Park has been a priceless resource. From the beginning, we’ve made clear that visiting the park is an essential activity. The collage of photographs in our Solstice Card, right, gives a small sample of the love and joy that we’ve experienced in the park during the year. We enjoyed new wildflowers in the spring, planted last fall by UC student volunteers under Chavez Park Conservancy sponsorship. We delighted in beautiful photographs and videos contributed by frequent park visitors, including Phil Rowntree and his son Fionn, Jim Kusz, David Hauer, Steve Lefkovits, Pete Kelly, Brendan Tibb, Kevin Steen, Jack Hayden, Parissa Salimian, Karen Storey, and John Davis, plus the watercolors of Linda Morris. We welcomed the construction of the partial boundary fence between the dog park and the Nature Area, where Burrowing Owls have elected to roost in the winter season. The Conservancy responded to the pandemic by distributing hundreds of free face masks from a table at a park entrance on four weekends in spring and summer. We are grateful to Santiago Casal, founder and curator of the Chavez/Huerta Solar Calendar, for maintaining this memorial despite the impossibility of holding the usual seasonal gatherings at this special location. Carol Denney, Christopher Ross, Lucy Phenix, Carl Anthony, Sheila Jordan, and Norman La Force were among the year’s featured names for their park-related activity. The Peace Symbol on the northwest hilltop stayed clear of weeds this year for the first time, thanks to the efforts of a small group of dedicated volunteers. Conservancy Volunteer Coordinator Bob Huttar led several groups of volunteers who pulled noxious invasive weeds from the DAWN native planting area on the west side of the park. The Conservancy won a $5,000 grant from the UC Chancellor’s Fund to pay for an expert study of this native planting area and to make recommendations for its restoration; we are still waiting for the Parks Director to bless the project. We did, however, get the satisfaction of a contractor’s basic cleanup of the Native Plant Area, including repair of the long-standing tree damage, and reopening of a long-overgrown north-south passage. Park visitors love to get a peek at a Burrowing Owl, and we were able to publish numerous photos and videos of this special bird, and also to set up a rig where visitors could see the bird up close and live. An anonymous sculptor delighted park visitors this year with ingenious assemblies of balanced rocks on the shoreline. Among other musical treats, a volunteer drum circle brought a live syncopated beat to the Solar Calendar grounds. Finally, thanks are due to park staff, to the Berkeley Police Department, and to the Berkeley Fire Department for their work in maintaining, safeguarding, and protecting this park that we all love. We’re looking forward to more of the same, and also much that’s new, in 2021. Meanwhile, for today, I wish you a Super Solstice!

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