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Salesforce goes net-zero, hatching herons, Nextdoor gets ads, and more

Four things to know today

Salesforce Tower, looking up at it. Photo by Patricia Chang

Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.

Carbon credibility

Just last week, San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower topped out, making it the second-tallest building in the West. They followed that accomplishment by announcing via press release Thursday that they have “achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.” In a conversation with GreenBiz last July, Salesforce Sustainability Director Patrick Flynn said that the company had hoped to achieve this goal by 2050, so this is obviously way ahead of schedule.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the SF-based company “achieved its goal primarily by offsetting its greenhouse gas emissions with investments in carbon credit projects in Honduras and India.” The practice of carbon offsetting has received its fair share of skepticism, with some calling it “a scam.” In a comprehensive 2011 report from The Guardian, reporter Duncan Clark weighed both sides of the debate, and it’s worth a look before blindly burying or praising Salesforce’s announcement.

Hang with The Heron Lady

For 24 years, Nancy H. DeStefanis has been watching over the Great Blue Herons who live in Golden Gate Park, earning her the nickname “The Heron Lady.” The Founder and Executive Director of San Francisco Nature Education, an organization that’s sought to “develop leadership and stewardship in youth and adults in underserved communities” through interactive environmental education programs, the lawyer and community organizer discovered the park’s heron colony in 1993, and “discovered” should be taken literally, as Bay Nature wrote in 2013 that “Prior to her discovery, there was no record of great herons having ever nested in San Francisco; she says they most likely relocated because of a disturbance at their original colony.”

By 1998 DeStefanis was leading school field trips to teach kids about the birds, which Audubon says are the largest herons in North America. Among other honors, she was awarded a Bay Area Jefferson Award in 2005, and her biography as presented in the award announcement paints a portrait os a truly amazing person.

She’s also an amazing person you can hang out with, this weekend, if you’re into birds! Beginning this Saturday and for the next six Saturdays, DeStefanis and a team of volunteers will be helping park visitors spot the herons, and for a very cute reason: the birds “court, build their nests, mate, and lay eggs between January and March,” ABC 7 reports, so April is when the baby chicks start to appear. The Stow Lake observation site is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (scroll down to see a map of where to find the deck).

This year there are six nests on Stow Lake’s Heron Island, DeStefanis says, an ideal spot for the birds as it’s it’s largely free of predators. And it’s also a bit of an egalitarian utopia, it seems, as “Except for laying the eggs, the male and female of this species do everything together. In other words, the male doesn’t go off and leave,” DeStefanis tells Bay Nature. “That’s why I say I like them so much — because they’re not sexist birds.”

Get your National Park on

Everyone’s favorite Twitter dissidents, the National Park Service, is celebrating National Park Week from April 15-23. That means free admission on the weekends of April 15–16 and 22–23 to places like Muir Woods (usually $10 per adult), Yosemite ($30 per non-commercial vehicle), or San Francisco Maritime’s collection of historic ships (usually $10 per person).

While you’re enjoying nature and/or history, you can tweet using the hashtag #FindYourPark or #EncuentraTuParque and “unlock a park ranger emoji,” says Twitter. Calls to the company on why the ranger was locked up in the first place were not returned as of publication time.

Do you even Nextdoor, bro?

If you’re ever in the mood to watch the world burn, share a link about a proposed pot club, change to parking regulations, or multi-unit development in your neighborhood on hyperlocal social media site Nextdoor and watch the response drama unfold. (Extra points if you preface it with an aggressively upbeat message like “Hey, guys, I thought you’d all REALLY be excited to see this!”) It’s the place where NIMBYs, YIMBYs, and everyone in between battle over blocked driveways, errant dog evacuations, and suspicious-looking characters with the online intensity typically reserved for Star Trek message boards.

The San Francisco-based company, which received attention in late 2016 for the challenges it faced to fight racist posts, rolled out advertising for the first time in its five-and-a-half years Thursday, Ad Week reports. According to CEO Nirav Tolia, the company receives “more than 1,000 incoming advertising requests per week” and expect to be generating a billion bucks a year in sales by 2020.

One of the things that makes the company attractive to advertisers it that “they offer marketers a few things other social networks do not—chiefly, home-address data” of their users. Maybe it’s time to share a link to this this Wired report on “The Crisis of Attention Theft—Ads That Steal Your Time for Nothing in Return” with your Nextdoor neighbors. Fireworks tk!