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Best Earth Day 2019 activities in San Francisco

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From heron season in Golden Gate Park to a party in the Mission

Photo by Carlos Chavarría

United States Sen. Gaylord Nelson conceived the idea for Earth Day in 1969 after feeling horrified at scenes of an oil spill near Santa Barbara.

Many people feel similar frustration, sadness, and fear when observing ecological disaster, but Nelson went one step further by doing something about it. In that spirit, Earth Day has persisted every year since, an annual reminder that it’s possible to do just a bit more for the most pressing concerns of our time.

Across San Francisco there are dozens of opportunities to learn or to contribute.

Here’s a quick rundown of potential weekend eco-warrior opportunities for the most motivated among us.


Saturday, April 20

  • A fresh start for Lands End: The Golden Gate Parks Conservancy needs volunteers to help recharge the Lands End batteries. “The park team will be focusing on painting historic Battery Chester, vegetation removal, litter collection, and refurbishing picnic tables,” according to the volunteer sign-up.
  • “Bike, tree, love”: Friends of the Urban Forest will be planting trees—what could be more quintessential in the spirit of the occasion?—in the Excelsior. Note that since this outing is meant to canvas the neighborhood that volunteers will commute from site to site via bike. “No experience needed,” the organizers promise.
  • Heron watch: It’s heron season at Golden Gate Park—who knew? San Francisco Nature Education is leading the curious in observation of these magnificent, lanky native birds as they oversee their springtime nests at Stow Lake.
  • Earth Day San Francisco 2019: This is the annual Earth Day fest’s first year in the Mission, decamping from its traditional Civic Center locale. Hopefully, civic engagement is still in order, as speakers from the likes of the Rainforest Action Committee and Citizen Climate Lobby will be on hand, along with live music ranging from Freak Pusher to the North Beach Brass Band.

Sunday, April 21

  • A day at the beach: Ocean-obsessed non-profit Surfrider (most famous for their years-long fight with tech billionaire Vinod Khosla over beach access) needs some helping hands cleaning up Ocean Beach near Judah Street and La Playa. No word on whether they plan to hit the waves after.
  • Cherry blossom festival: Earth Day and this weekend’s religious festivities also coincide with the second weekend of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival 2019 edition in Japantown, now in its 52nd year. Organizers say that the event “serves to cultivate the continued alliance between Japan and the United States” and draws crowds of some 200,000 over four days.
  • Presidio picnic: This leisurely outing at the Main Parade Grounds happens every Sunday from the beginning of April through October, but what better day to appreciate the splendor of the Presidio and the bay than this Sunday? You can bring your own food or hit up Off The Grid, but remember to pack out your trash.

Monday, April 22

  • Catch up on climate change: The San Francisco Public Library hosts a free screening of Tomorrow, a documentary chronicling campaigns in ten different countries that are trying to turn back the tide of climate-related disaster.
  • Stargazing: The annual Lyrid Meteor Shower will be at its peak over San Francisco on the night of April 22 and early morning of April 23—a timely reminder that the Earth is just one component in a much larger and more complex universe. According to the American Meteor Society, “The Lyrids are particles of comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher which has an orbit of about 415 years.”