News and notes: Flower Piano, new partners, conservation leadership

 In Environment, Leadership

“If anything can save the world, I’d put my money on beauty.”

Doug Tompkins, the late conservationist and philanthropist, once said those words.  I discovered the quote this morning (in relation to the release of Wild Legacy, a new documentary about his life, and thought about how, in an uncertain world, the value of nature’s beauty is greater than ever.

Over the past six months I established new partnerships with outstanding organizations whose missions are to protect beautiful places around the world and I continued my board service to the Women’s Environmental Network and volunteer work with a mountain lion research project. I feel fortunate to do this work.

In this post, I will round up a few highlights with a special shout out for an event happening now at the San Francisco Botanical Garden: Flower Piano.

Flower Piano

Flower Piano, San Francisco Botanical Garden. Photo by Christine Sculati.

Concert pianist Van-Anh Nguyen in the Zellerbach Garden told stories about her life and career in between pieces she performed for Flower Piano, San Francisco Botanical Garden

Under the open sky, professional musicians from the Bay Area and around the world are performing outdoor public concerts in the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Amid redwoods, wildflowers and bright green meadows, the sounds of beautiful piano music, from jazz to classical, mingle with the natural world. My colleagues with the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society organized a phenomenal 12-day public event with partners Sunset Piano and the support of generous funders from the community.

Flower Piano offers further testimony that beautiful places and environments inspire the best in people. Yesterday, people from many walks of life gathered around 12 pianos planted throughout the garden’s 55 acres. In between professional performances, pianists of all ages stepped up to experience playing in this novel environment. Flower Piano celebrates the role that nature and the great outdoors have played in inspiring great works of music and invites the community to discover the many sights and sounds of the Garden.  Yesterday I attended the first featured artist performance in the Zellerbach Garden with concert pianist Van-Anh Nguyen.


In other news from the field

Point Blue Conservation Science: From October through March of this year, I was thrilled to provide interim grants support to Point Blue Conservation Science. In March, Susan Lee Vick, Point Blue’s Chief Advancement Officer welcomed two new team members for the philanthropy team, Dana Earl and Quinn White. Learn more about Dana and Quinn and recent work by Point Blue in the outstanding Point Blue Quarterly. To connect your ear to the ocean, check out the Los Farallones blog written by field staff stationed at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge. Read their accounts of the “trials and tribulations of conducting ecological fieldwork on a small, rocky island 28 miles west of San Francisco.”

Student Conservation Association: In March I welcomed new partners with the Student Conservation Association. My colleagues Kristi Davis and Jay Watson recently attended President Obama’s historic visit to Yosemite National Park in June. Kristi, Jay and their colleagues here in the Bay Area and the Western U.S. build partnerships to fund programs that are inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders. Check out the events page on the SCA website for upcoming opportunities to get involved including community service days in honor of the 2016 National Park Service Centennial. Read an article by SCA’s President and CEO Jaime Matyas in the Huffington Post about what the conservation of national parks teaches us about ourselves.

Women’s Environmental Network: As a board member for WEN, I am eager to make an exciting announcement soon about the future of our organization. We are in the final stages of a strategic planning process that involved community interviews and research. The results were clear. There’s significant demand for more leadership programs for women in the environmental fields and to unite women’s voices across the Bay Area to drive change.  Now we are getting set to launch a new website and new programming. We owe tremendous gratitude to our newest board member, Karen Poiani, who officially joined the board this year after serving as our strategic planning advisor for the past year. Karen was recently named the CEO of Island Conservation, a nonprofit whose mission is to prevent extinctions of endemic and endangered species on islands around the world. She also served as the Director of Evaluation & Learning at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and spent 17 years with The Nature Conservancy working at global, regional and state levels. Meet Karen and join us at our next event on July 28 at the Impact Hub San Francisco.

Bay Area mountain lion research: In past blog posts, I described my volunteer work with the Bay Area Puma Project. As a project of the Felidae Conservation Fund, this project involves research and public education programs in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The project’s main goal is to promote better co-existence between humans and pumas (also called mountain lions).  I volunteer for this project by maintaining and monitoring “camera traps,” which offer a window into a world we rarely see including the movements of pumas, bobcats, deer, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons and other wildlife common to healthy Bay Area ecosystems. Recently, I worked with mountain lion expert Ginny Fifield to set up new cameras in Marin County, where we have already “captured” images of one particular mountain lion, possibly one of the only ones in the area. In the winter 2015 issue of the California Fish and Wildlife Scientific Journal, Ginny was the lead author on an article that presented a study on Marin pumas.

Emeric Lake, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Christine Sculati.
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