Understanding the Greenway’s Rich History

While walking in Spring Lake Regional Park near the proposed Southeast Greenway on a recent morning, I was sharing my knowledge of the history of this land and the indigenous people who lived here with a friend, one of the founding members of the Greenway Campaign. She asked how I had learned this? “From my training as a Bouverie docent almost 20 years ago”, I replied. To write a brief article for this newsletter, I had to go back to the Bouverie Training Manual for a check on my often-recited facts. In the process, I realized how much that training had piqued my interest in my immediate local environment, and more importantly, how it heightened my appreciation and respect for the people of the Coast Miwok, Pomo and Wappo tribes who steward this land.

Several things that I recall learning still impress me years later. The indigenous people lived peacefully together. Each tribe had designated hunting and gathering areas and asked for permission to cross one another’s territory to access the ocean or to travel to trade obsidian. They neither planted crops nor raised animals, maintaining the land by not over harvesting and leaving it unpolluted and fruitful.

It occurred to me that there is much we can emulate from this history as we aspire to realize our goals for the proposed usage of the Greenway. First, we can share this property with all community members to meet a diversity of needs – establishing a home, planting a garden for fresh food, enjoying a pleasant area for exercise, walking, or biking to school or work on safe pathways. Second, we can steward and sustain the land for future generations by using it respectfully, restoring native plants, daylighting creeks, attracting seasonal bird populations, and preserving views of the surrounding mountains.

I recall a passage in one of our assigned readings attributed to Chief Seattle of the Northwest Nations. “The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth.”  Sharing the future of the Greenway with all the people of our community is a day to imagine and work toward.

Carol Orme is an outdoor enthusiast who volunteers with Impact 100 Redwood Circle, the Greenway Campaign, the Roseland Scholarship Fund, and the League of Women Voters.