At the beginning of 2023, Native Plant Nursery Manager Millie Calzada introduced LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) affinity volunteer programs as well as collaborations with various affinity groups to our nurseries. As the current Nursery Fellow and a queer, trans, BIPOC-identified person, I have had the honor of experiencing firsthand the profound impact these spaces have on the psyche and the importance of diversity both in our ecosystems and with each other.
Affinity spaces have served as vital places for communities with marginalized identities to heal, celebrate, collaborate, and connect with each other. Many of us feel like we are the “only ones” in our communities, workplaces, or outdoor spaces. Building connections with others like us helps us feel like we are not the only ones and makes these spaces that much more welcoming.
We host on average 4 nursery volunteer affinity programs a month, both at our Palo Alto location and Oakland location typically on Wednesdays and Saturdays. So far, we have held over 30 Queer and BIPOC affinity nursery programs, as well as collaborated with many affinity groups including Latino Outdoors, Justice Outside, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, Environmental Professionals of Color, and more. Over 400 folks have joined these events of all ages, with many returning and new faces each time.
Save The Bay is committed to protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay for people and wildlife. These programs and spaces are a venue for people of particular marginalized identities to share stories, discuss common challenges, and innovative solutions to the barriers faced in the outdoors and conversation. They have brought in folks that might feel excluded or intimidated to come out and connect with each other, the Bay, and be part of the bigger picture of habitat restoration for our crucial marshland ecosystems. If you are a group interested in collaborating with us or identify as Queer and/or BIPOC and would like to attend an affinity volunteer nursery event, you can find our schedule on the calendar.