LDArch 12 and the Unexpected Appeals of Strawberry Creek

Before Covid-19 decided to run rampant throughout my life, I had made one of the best choices taking Landscape Architecture 12. Now I understand that the title of this class may not seem like “BEST FIRST CLASS EVER”, but trust me when I tell you that it absolutely was. 

Imagine an introductory to environmental science class except you get to meet real people (as guest lecturers) from a variety of backgrounds who are or were working on research or projects that were to make the world a more sustainable place. The passion that these guest lecturers gave off talking about their life’s work was inspirational. It felt like I could actually solve climate change, which I can’t. At least not without help anyway. The point is, I had an amazing experience listening to people trying to save the world. That was a bit of a stretch, I admit. But, when you start hearing about all the possibilities that are out there, nothing seems impossible.

One moment that I remember, in particular, was the class on Strawberry Creek. If you don’t know what Strawberry Creek is, it’s the creek that runs through the campus at Cal. Well, I met the guy who restored it. His name is Bob Charbonneau. Now let me tell you, I was not expecting to learn everything about Strawberry Creek. But, he told us just about everything on Strawberry Creek. From its history as an open creek when Berkeley was just starting out as a new school to how it became polluted from sewage pipes as an urban stream and finally to the restoration research and implementation. He even told us about how in trying to find what pipes flow in Strawberry Creek they accidentally ended up dyeing parts of the San Francisco Bay green. During lab section, we were able to tour the entire creek to examine the different aspects that make up the restored creek. I learned so much about this Creek that I could have given full tours of the creek instead of a walking tour as a Campus Ambassador. 

However, I did so much more than just learning the history of Strawberry Creek. To test the overall health of the creek, I got to look at aquatic macroinvertebrates which are basically small insects that live in bodies of water. This was an entire story on its own because not only did my group catch bugs in the creek, I also ended up losing my phone. Don’t worry though, I ended up finding it in the foliage near the creek 2 hours later. Despite my terrible luck, I still had a great time doing that lab. We even worked on flood management using Strawberry Creek as an example. 

When people call Strawberry Creek a living lab, this is what they mean. This entire class was super unexpected and amazing at the same time. I would have never thought that in my first year, first semester I would be working on assignments inside of a creek. Imagine that!