As a Child I Wondered – What’s Under the Sidewalk?

As a child growing up in midtown Manhattan, I walked the sidewalks wondering “what’s underneath the cement?”. I spent time in Central Park so I knew about dirt, but wondered where else it existed. Other questions came to my curious young mind as I traveled those city streets: How far down does cement go? Where does it stop and then what happens? I knew about subways but thought: “underneath the concrete can’t be all subways”.

One day my 4th grade class took a field trip to explore the New York City sewers. Who knew that subterranean waste treatment could so thrill a young mind? I was mesmerized. Our tour guides were experts who were able to provide answers to the variety of questions I had been pondering. My lifelong love of learning was born — my kind of learning: not in the classroom or from textbooks, not at desks or through quizzes, but out in the world moving, seeing, doing, exploring. My greatest dream was to attend the School of Field Trips. I wanted everyone to be able to see the sewers as I had, and imagined being the Sewer Tour Guide when I grew up. I fell in love with the experience of going on field trips, and can see now that this is when the seed of Bay Area Green Tours was planted.

This fall will mark our fifth anniversary as an organization. Since 2008 and through all our struggles to grow and get the word out about our offerings, BAGT has been sustained by the joy in people’s faces, young and old and from all walks of life, as they are awakened and delighted by what they are seeing and learning. In our tour groups, no question is deemed foolish or simple, and there is respect and engagement with the heart and mind of every participant.

We have expanded significantly since our humble beginnings when we hosted one tour a month. I could always imagine and have been deeply committed to bringing these experiences to the widest base of communities — planting seeds of curiosity and interest, engagement and creativity. From the very beginning, one of our passions and commitments has been providing educational tours for students; witnessing the impact on these young people has been deeply rewarding.

You can see for yourself how much students get out of our trips in this video of our Food Justice Tour.

We have stretched in many directions to make it possible for underserved students to access these rich opportunities to learn and be engaged. When students have a chance to get into the field, the topics they are studying come to life. They are able to dream of future careers they had not known existed, and set goals to get achieve them. They can see paths for themselves where before they had no such vision. Those who struggle in regular academic settings have an opportunity to experience themselves as successful learners, just as I did so many years ago in subterranean NYC. I am blessed to see their eyes light up and a positive shift take place in their self perception.

We are having great success with our educational tours and are aware that there is a much larger need out there that we cannot begin to fill, due to a lack of funding. Because of nationwide budget cuts, field trip programs have been almost completely eliminated, and in some low-income and at-risk districts they no longer exist. We want to help remedy this, to step in and be the go-to organization for educational tours.

That is why we need your help now.

BAGT recently launched a $35,000 crowdfunding campaign on — so that we can Keep Field Trips Alive! 

With your help and the power of social networking I am confident that we will raise the funds we need so more students can go on field trips.

Here are some other ways you can help BAGT with this new and exciting campaign:

Donate today! All donations will be funneled into Fundly to help kickstart our campaign. The more support we have in the beginning of the campaign, the more people will be willing to donate (it works like positive peer pressure!)

Be a fundraising team leader. Get your friends and family to join our campaign and encourage them to start their own teams.

Reach out to your employer. Ask to start a fundraising team for your organization and have your employer match what you raise.

Volunteer. Creating a crowdfunding campaign isn’t simple or easy. We can always use people to help us organize our communities and write copy for social media, marketing and PR — so please let us know if you are willing to help in these ways.

We are excited to raise funds and further public awareness about BAGT’s unique and powerful offerings. Help us plant the seeds of life-changing opportunities for our precious youth by joining us in this effort.

Thank you for your support,

Marissa LaMagna


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