Published July 15, 2014
Volume 22, Number 7

Corporate Team Building with Living Arroyos

Living Arroyos

By Zoe Francis

Living Arroyos has the perfect team-building exercise that does not cost a cent and gets employees outdoors to give back to the community.
Employees volunteer their time to enhance creek habitats in the Tri-Valley cities of Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin.
“It’s incredible for team building,” Joni Redmond, Living Arroyos program manager, said. “It gives employees the opportunity to connect with each other. They have fun. They get dirty. We find that people really like to get dirty. People like to see what they can accomplish in a day.”
Living Arroyos was founded in July last year as a joint effort of the Berkeley-based Urban Creeks Council, the Zone 7 Water Agency and the city of Livermore. The council hopes to get other cities involved.
“The goal is to renew and enhance up to 45 miles of stream and streamside habitat in the Tri-Valley area,” Redmond explained. The area is known as the upper Alameda Creek watershed, which extends through Alameda County and into Contra Costa County.
“One of the central features of Living Arroyos is the interaction between the community and nature and the project,” she said. “Engaging volunteers is a huge part of what we want to do because it’s educating residents about the nature right in their backyard. It gives the community a chance to become invested in the ecosystems in their area.”
Since Living Arroyo launched last year, volunteers have concentrated on improving the Stanley Reach, originally a man-made arroyo that is being converted into a natural stream. The area parallels Stanley Boulevard between Murrieta Boulevard and Isabel Avenue in west Livermore.
“Our goal is to create something that looks and acts like real functioning nature,” Redmond said. “We are planting native trees and hoping to shade the stream enough to where in the future it could be cool enough to accommodate steelhead (trout). Our vision is for this mile-long stretch to be home to all sorts of native grasses, native plants and critters and also a place where the community can play. It’s not a park. It’s nature where kids can come enjoy the stream, and people can walk their dogs.”
Living Arroyos is hosting a field day at Stanley Reach on Sept. 26 so local business leaders can learn moreabout the program and decide if volunteering would be a good community project for their company.
“One thing we’ve heard consistently from our volunteers is that there is a dearth of opportunities to donate their time in the outdoors,” Phil Stevens, Urban Creeks Council executive director, said. “Several people have said they’ve been waiting for years for something like this to come along. Finally, they have an opportunity to work as volunteers in nature in their own communities.”
Living Arroyos will set up corporate workdays when volunteers can plant trees, control invasive species, clean up streams and do other work to enhance streams and the surrounding habitat.
“It’s a way for your organization to give back to the community,” Redmond said. “We’ve seen over and over employees who have never met before, and they come and they connect with each other and they’re smiling and laughing and getting to know each other. It’s good for company morale and strengthening employee ties.”
Learn more about Living Arroyos at livingarroyos.org. Public volunteer opportunities are offered twice a month, October through April. The field day for business leaders will be Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. Visit livingarroyos.org to register for this free event or e-mail joni@urbancreeks.org with any questions.

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