Hundreds of people gathered in the Baylands Nature Preserve on Sunday, to celebrate the Grand Opening of Palo Alto's new EcoCenter and the preservation of the whimsical boat-shaped building. It was built in 1941, but has been sitting vacant for more than two decades. Every day, tides flooded the building up to the second floor. Nonetheless, when the city of Palo Alto offered it to the group Environmental Volunteers for an annual rent of $1, they took on the challenge.
"With immense pride and joy, we re-dedicate this wonderful Birge & David Clark building, and we rename it the Environmental Volunteers EcoCenter," said Environmental Volunteers' Executive Director Alan Berkowitz, as he addressed the crowd.
The new ecology education center is a lesson about sustainability in itself. The green construction features solar panels, natural ventilation, and recycled building materials: the carpet is made from plastic bottles, the desktops from recycled compressed paper.
Outside, visitors are birdwatching, hiking, and learning about salt water plant adaptations. Inside, new touch-screen exhibits teach kids about the earth, sea, sky, and environmental change.
The project also completes a missing section of the 400-mile San Francisco Bay Trail. The bike path runs right past the EcoCenter, while the pedestrian walkway actually goes up onto the bayside deck of the building.
For information about activities, school programs, and volunteer opportunities, visit the Environmental Volunteers online at evols.org