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Earth Day

Earth day cleanup in Oakland: “If it’s helping my community, I can’t say no to that.”

on April 23, 2022

When they arrived at the Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, aka FROG Park, on Saturday morning, Alya Davidman and her 6-year-old daughters Evelyn and Josephine Ellis-Davidman found a group of over 100 volunteers hard at work raking leaves, pulling weeds, and picking up trash across the narrow greenway tucked between a row of houses, the DMV and the Temescal farmers market in north Oakland 

Josephine and Evelyn, waddling with bright orange trash pickers in one hand and garbage bags as big as their bodies in the other, said they were excited to spend their Saturday morning celebrating Earth Day cleaning up the neighborhood. “It was great,” Josephine shouted before running to grab a snack.

“It’s so fun to see everybody participating,” said Davidman. For her, the Earth Day cleanup was not only a great opportunity to meet up with other members of Growing Together, a family learning program with Jewish Gateways that came to volunteer, but it was also an opportunity to learn about stewardship. Out grabbing plastic wrappers from the side of the parks’ paths, Davidman felt, “this moment could become a good lesson we learn together as a family. Like, this is what we do when we see trash outside. We pick it up.”

Earth Day
Volunteer cleanup underway at Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, aka FROG Park. (Ben Derico)

Erik Cuevas, a 26-year-old lifelong East Oakland resident, also found the experience rewarding. Along with a handful of volunteers from his employer, Oakland-based California Waste Solutions, he helped remove a downed tree from one of the park’s fences. 

For him, it’s about helping others and building community. “You get to meet nice people with the same ambitions,” he said. “If it’s helping my community, I can’t say no to that.”

It’s that ambition that keeps Co-Chair of the FROG Park Committee Alison Drury, who’s been holding this Earth Day cleanup for the past five years, coming back. “As good stewards of the environment,” she said, “we want to leave this place in a better situation than it was before. So the cleanup is a nice way to get everyone out and take care of the neighborhood and the planet.”

The day ended with a visit from Mayor Libby Schaaf, who finished off her tour of the city’s seven park clean-up efforts with the volunteers in Rockridge. Schaaf said seeing the community come together makes her proud to be from Oakland.

“Growing up, that was part of my ethic that made me fall in love with the city and feel part of a nurturing community,” she said. Now, on her last Earth Day as mayor, Schaaf added, she’s inspired for the future and thrilled to have seen so many people caring for their community.

Earth Day
At Rockridge-Temescal Greenbelt, aka FROG Park, Earth Day volunteers weed and pick up litter. (Ben Derico)

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