How quickly and profoundly life has changed in the space of a few weeks.
Only several weeks ago we in the Marin Chapter of CNPS were anticipating a gorgeous spring with a flurry of native plant events during March and April.
At the last minute when plans for the usual seasonal desert venue fell through, our chapter stepped up to host the CNPS Chapter Council Meeting scheduled for March 13-15. This was the regular quarterly meeting for CNPS Chapter delegates from around the state to review CNPS policy issues. We secured the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary for the meeting and bracketed field trips around the meeting for delegates and Marin chapter members alike. Ann and Woody Elliott took the lead in planning this meeting, and they, Carolyn Longstreth and others put in many hours on this project.
We were also looking forward to our spring native plant sale scheduled for April 18. However, as we got closer to the Chapter Council Meeting, it became clear that CNPS should not bring people from around the state to a meeting like this and the meeting would have to be canceled. When it was canceled, we thought outdoor activities like field trips might be okay. But at the March 14 Chapter Council Meeting, held by conference call, a growing consensus determined that as an organization we should apply the “Precautionary Principle” and cancel all events for the immediate future.
This meant cancellation of the Rock Springs field trip on Mount Tam on March
15 at the end of the canceled Chapter Council Meeting, as well as cancellation of the April 18 plant sale. Our last live event was a March 13 field trip to St. Hilary’s Open Space Preserve in Tiburon led by Conservation and Invasives Chair Eva Buxton and Jerry Riessen, President of the Tiburon Open Space Committee. After sheltering in place for several weeks, that field trip now feels like it belongs to a different reality.
We are now trying to maintain as many activities as possible through electronic communications. Our regularly scheduled monthly public meeting at
7:30 PM on Monday, April 13 is going ahead as a Zoom videoconference at the regularly scheduled time. Jeff Bisbee, an expert on Ceanothus, will give us a tour through this iconic largely California genus (see article on this program and how to access this videoconference). The Marin CNPS board, which usually holds its monthly meeting at a conference room in the offices of the Marin Community Foundation at Hamilton field, will also be meeting by videoconference. In the future we hope to be able to conduct plant sales online, but as yet we don’t have the electronic infrastructure to do this.
Unfortunately, we are going to miss field trips during this glorious spring blooming season. However, we all need exercise after being confined to our homes nearly 24/7. We encourage you to visit any native habitats within walking distance of your home (At this time, all Marin open spaces are closed to those who arrive in vehicles.) – please be sure to maintain social distancing.
The current crisis is also forcing us to evaluate how we communicate with chapter members. For the indefinite future all communications from the Marin chapter will be electronic (our printer is not available to us during the coronavirus emergency). If you have not provided CNPS with your email, please do so now. Also, if you have expressed a preference for “no email” in your CNPS membership record, you may receive no further communications from the Marin chapter until you change your membership preference to receive email from CNPS.
We have continued mailing a paper copy of our chapter newsletter long after many other organizations have moved to electronic communications. Newsletter printing and mailing is expensive, and many members have chosen to receive the newsletter electronically. However, as the number of mailed newsletter copies has declined, we are at risk of going below the minimum volume of mailed items needed to qualify for second class mail; below this minimum we must use more costly first class mail.
Another factor moving us in the direction of electronic communication is the complexity of producing the paper newsletter. Its template is based upon a professional editing program that makes assembling and editing the newsletter a time-consuming process which uses a skill set that has a significant learning curve. Consequently, we will be considering whether to make an electronic newsletter permanent going forward.
One thing we can all do while sheltering in place is gardening. Even if we can’t go on plant field trips and meet up with friends, we can still garden and use this time to expand our knowledge of native plants and plant communities. One such opportunity is the chapter Zoom videoconference public meeting on Monday, April 13 at 7:30 PM featuring Jeff Bisbee discussing and showing photos of our lovely native Ceanothus. We hope to see you then!
Kristin Jakob and David Long
Co-presidents, Marin Chapter CNPS