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February 18, 2014 > Art and community discussions illuminate sea level rise

Art and community discussions illuminate sea level rise

By Hannah Yamakami

I believe that art has the power to communicate before and beyond fear,Ó states Hayward Recreation Supervisor and artist Jennifer Koney. While sea level rise and environmental reports and studies may seem intimidating, the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center has found a way to make this topic more accessible and approachable to the community through their new art exhibit, Ò55Ó Ð Images of Sea Level Rise,Ó featuring the artwork of Koney and photography of Oliver Klink.

The exhibit is not only beautiful, it is also unique and Òmeant to be experiential.Ó In fact, as soon as you walk in, you notice the line drawn along the entire room, exactly 55 inches from the ground. All artwork is placed against the wall and also follows this 55-inch line. As your eye follows the line, it leads to the windows where you can see the bay. Why is 55 inches important? Koney explains, ÒWe found from the reports... from the project, Adapting to Rising Tides, that the level of sea level rise for the San Francisco bay for the Hayward shoreline, by the end of the century, is expected to be somewhere around 55 inches, so this is our way of communicating the important information in a way that is accessible; and it means something to people.Ó

Although 55 inches may seem to be just a number, reports and studies done by Adapting to Rising Tides, impact the entire community. Higher sea levels does not just indicate frequent flooding, it also means permanent inundation, increased shoreline erosion, and disruption to important services like water and energy supply, health care, and transportation due to increased flooding. All of these factors lead to bigger consequences: loss of important habitat areas, inundation of existing facilities, and increased injuries to name a few.

While we may not see the 55 inches right now, Òwe can experience...what the new daily high tides will be, when thereÕs a King Tide.Ó Occurring once or twice a year when the Òsun and the moon are both pulling in the same direction,Ó King Tides are Òa very, very high tide.Ó Koney sums it up by saying, ÒTodayÕs King Tide is like tomorrowÕs high tide.Ó

In the past three years, over 35 agencies have worked together in a multi-agency project called Adapting to Rising Tides to Òhelp prepare this particular region to become more resilient to the sea level rise we know is going to happen.Ó Led by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center, Adapting to Rising Tides has used the shoreline from Emeryville to Union City to assess and develop the best strategies to reduce and manage future risks.

Koney is an artist with a Bachelors and Masters degree in fine art with a background in textiles. When reading studies and learning about the rising sea level tides and its effects on the local community, she was impacted and decided to use her expertise to create a series of paintings. ÒItÕs not often I get stuff in my work that really hits me. Like big time.Ó Within thirteen months she had a collection of remarkable and meaningful artwork, which even included a technique called Òresist-and-pourÓ which she developed herself.

While people tend to freeze up when Koney starts talking about the subject matter, she has found a way to use her art as Òa soft and subtle way of communicating important conceptsÓ and to use Òthis art exhibit as an interpretive tool.Ó The exhibit is very versatile and captivating to people of all ages. Whether interested in paintings, photography, or sea level tides, there is something for everyone. Koney has combined her gift of art and passion for sea level rise awareness to inform and impact the community in a unique way.

A great way to get involved and learn more is through three community discussions, the first on Saturday, February 22. A panel of speakers includes Nancy Ceridwyn, Naturalist at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center; Maggie Wenger, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Adapting to Rising Tides Project; Jennifer Koney, Supervisor at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center and artist; as well as many more representatives from partnering agencies. All are invited; get involved in this important discussion that will continue to affect our communities for decades to come.

What?! Sharks in My Backyard? Ð Community Discussions
Saturday, Feb 22
2 p.m.
Castro Valley Library
3600 Norbridge Ave., Castro Valley
(510) 667-7900

Saturday, Mar 22
2 p.m.
San Lorenzo Community Center
1970 Via Buena Vista, San Lorenzo
(510) 881-6700

Saturday, Apr 12
2 p.m.
Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center
4901 Breakwater Ave., Hayward
(510) 670-7270

Ò55Ó Ð Images of Sea Level Rise
Through Sunday, Apr 13
Saturdays & Sundays
10 a.m. Ð 5 p.m.
Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center
4901 Breakwater Ave., Hayward
(510) 670-7270

Adapting to Rising Tides

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