Water, Waste & Green Careers Tour

by Angelique Chan, BAGT intern & Albany High School Student

BAGT Interns Angelique Chan and Tenzin Daden took their own classes from Albany High School on an amazing Green Tour in San Francisco which they planned and organized as part of their high school final projec

On Friday, May 31, we took the junior and senior Albany High School students to San Francisco to visit the Moscone Center, International Art Museum of America, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission headquarters, Yerba Buena Gardens, and SPUR, a nonprofit which promotes good planning and good government in the Bay Area. Highlights included a passionate and in-depth look at Moscone Center’s recycling efforts, gaining an art-lover’s perspective on environmental protection, and a group discussion on the coexistence of wildlife and water diversions on the scenic Tuolumne River.

Our first speaker, Hector, Moscone Center’s Recycling Manager, showed us the behind-the-scenes work of the convention center. From him we learned that tons of waste is generated during an event — about 80% recyclable — and that even the non-recyclables are converted into commodities. Many recycling programs give discounts to motivate large companies to recycle. Hector’s passion and pride in his work was apparent in the comments he made about Moscone Center’s waste management. His desire for more universal recycling revealed to us the important role communities play in greening the environment.

Next we learned about SPUR from Noah, their Public Programming Manager. He explained how this organization – through research, education and advocacy – promotes good planning and government throughout the Bay Area. We learned that as a member-supported nonprofit organization, SPUR encourages citizens to join together to craft solutions for the widespread problems that cities face. Their work consists of eight program areas: Community Planning, Disaster Planning, Economic Development, Good Government, Housing, Regional Planning, Sustainable Development, and Transportation. Lastly, Noah shared his personal career trajectory, offering us insight and advice about career paths

We also stopped by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission where our group was informed about the sustainable features of SFPUC’s building. We learned that the City and County of San Francisco owns and operates a water delivery system that provides drinking water for 2.6 million Bay Area customers.

We took a detour at the Civic Center Farmers Market to the International Art Museum of America, where a speaker explained that the IAMA’s mission is to create a bond between different cultures through beauty, and promoting harmony and peace. We looked at works ranging from calligraphy, oil painting, sculptures and indoor gardens. Some of the incredible-looking pieces in the museum highlighted the importance of nature through art. This unique stop enabled us to realize how the destruction of the environment deprives artists of the chance to capture nature’s beauty, and also prevents audiences from connecting to nature through art.

Then after lunch in the Yerba Buena Gardens, we took a virtual tour of the Tuolumne River. Peter Drekmeier, Tuolumne River Trust’s Bay Area Program Director gave an interactive presentation highlighting the wildlife that depends on the river, and shared information about the history of the Hetch-Hetchy water system, as well as about current threats to the river. His presentation was followed by a lively discussion about water conservation methods and the future state of our water supply.

Throughout this tour, the enthusiasm of the speakers put the sustainability field in a more exciting light. Our experience that day gave us a deeper understanding of the issues, provided information about potential careers, and emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy culture as well as environment.

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