Ebb & Flow Inspiration

Last year, my little boys asked to go bike ridmichelle williamsing. I wanted an open place where they could safely practice, so I asked my husband to hop in the car with the boys and the bikes and meet me at the Tannery Arts Center. I jumped on my own bike and – for the first time – rode the length of the Santa Cruz RiverWalk next to the San Lorenzo River. This stunning path starts at the ocean, very near my house, and ends at the Tannery.

I was awed by the beauty and spectacle. Birds with names out of storybooks: mergansers, goldeneyes, grebes, cormorants. Tiny critters of all kinds: squirrels, lizards, butterflies. And a beautiful, bubbling, meandering river, though at some places barely a trickle.

Halfway through my ride, on this beautiful Saturday morning, I realized I was all but alone on the RiverWalk. And it inspired me to find out why.

Now I know. I know that our community is both figuratively and literally cut off from our river by levees built in the 50’s to control flooding. I know that there are no benches or gathering spots because the RiverWalk has been plagued by negative use. I know it’s a place I’d never go after dark, and a place I’d not feel safe bringing my kids.

I also know what so few people in this community seem to know: that this is a beautiful, scenic public park that can lift our spirits simply by strolling down its paths. That the San Lorenzo River provides the bulk of our drinking water in the City of Santa Cruz. That with attention, love, and care, our RiverWalk could be a wonderful destination for families, friends, neighbors and strangers to come together and walk, chat, bike, and play.

That’s why I was inspired to bring together some truly amazing people to create the Ebb & Flow River Arts Project. Together with hundreds of people like you, we are enlivening the RiverWalk and the Tannery through public arts projects (film, sculpture, music, dance!) and community celebrations (a kinetic sculpture parade, and an all-day arts and river party!). We are bringing hundreds if not thousands to the RiverWalk. And we are telling the story of our river to this community and the world.

Please join us in this work. I invite you to learn more about the project, and to join us for the parade and celebration. But right now, the most powerful thing you can do is support this movement. Ebb & Flow takes not just a village, but the whole community.