By Shirley Dettloff
I am sure that no one expected the challenges that we were to face as we celebrated the New Year of 2020! Nor did we expect that we would live through one of the worst and most difficult periods of history ever experienced, and one that we probably hoped that we would never be a part of. Who would have thought that we would face a world-wide pandemic with a disease we had never heard of COVID-19, or that we would be in a political world that we never dreamed of and more lives lost than ever before. We saw climate change, not in the books, but right here at home with wildfires all over the West, floods in the south, and drought in California. And now maybe we are just starting to see some light and that things are getting better. The political landscape has dramatically changed: we have a vaccine for COVID-19; deaths and hospitalizations are coming down; and maybe, just maybe, we are learning what nature is all about and the role humans play in it.
So did we survive 2020? YES! There were terrible times, but there were times when we could be proud of our fellow human beings. The brave medical staffs, the Fire and Police, those who spoke out against prejudice, the neighbor helping neighbor, the people who followed the rules and wore their masks, those who gave out food to those who had lost their jobs, those who went to their jobs because they were needed and the list goes on.
How did non-profits like the Amigos de Bolsa Chica continue their work under COVID-19 rules? First we knew we could not meet all together so our board meetings continued and they were virtual. It took some of us a little time to adjust, not being as familiar as the young on exactly what a Zoom meeting was! How could we keep the public involved? Well we filmed a virtual tour of the Bolsa Chica so that children could continue learning about wetlands and included lesson plans for educators. The virtual tour also was shown on HBTV-3, so that when you got bored watching reruns of old TV shows, you could take a trip of the wetlands. We also provided a history of the Amigos, also being shown on HBTV-3.
A great webinar series was developed and every month there has been a new program with a guest speaker. These virtual programs included the Whales of Southern California, Friends of Ballona Wetland, Birds of the Bolsa Chica and many, many more. All members are invited to the webinars; it is a wonderful way to learn and to get together with others. The programs are available anytime on the Amigos You Tube channel. Now do we look forward to once again walking the trails of the Bolsa Chica with a bus load of school children? Yes, and that day will come.
It is sad that we had to say good-bye to so many and we will always grieve for those we lost. They will always be remembered. Now is the time to learn from the many new experiences we were faced with and to build a better tomorrow. We always said that we saved the Bolsa Chica for our future children and now we must continue the fight that never ends. We must make sure that we give the wetlands the care they need to survive and make sure that our children understand how important our wetlands are to the next generation.