Special Announcement: The Strawberry Creek Project

Special Announcement: The Strawberry Creek Project

Springs, and the streams that flow from them, have always had a special place in the hearts of traditional peoples. The Castalian Spring at Delphi, a temple in Greece renowned throughout the ancient world for its oracle, was considered to be the heart of the temple complex. The spring was believed to have mysterious and healing qualities, and those who wished to consult the oracle were obliged to purify themselves by washing there. In France, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has historically been a place of pilgrimage for those seeking healing, and the nearby spring emerging from the Massabielle cavern is believed to be the source of that healing power. The Gihon Spring in Jerusalem is another powerful source of water, revered since time immemorial, and likely one of the reasons many places of worship from different religious traditions were established nearby.

Our own Strawberry Creek has been a source of sustenance for all forms of life for thousands of years. For the Ohlone people, who lived on its banks for at least 7,000 years, Strawberry Creek was an important food and water source. The Ohlone created ceremonial places in the shell mounds that formed around its banks and cared for the land around its watershed. The creek emerges from two different sets of springs in the hills behind Berkeley, and runs for many miles, to the mouth of the San Francisco Bay. One of the most remarkable qualities of Strawberry Creek is that it does not run dry in the dry season, and has always remained an important resource for birds and animals throughout the California summers and falls.

The creek was culverted and polluted by European settlers, especially during the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. The shell mounds, places of spiritual significance to the native peoples, were crushed and paved over as greater numbers of Europeans settled along its banks. In 2009, The Foundation of the Sacred Stream purchased an old Lutheran church, built in 1916, on the site of a former shell mound near the banks of the stream.

We feel it is important to honor the land the Sacred Stream Center is built on, and so the Strawberry Creek Project was born. In collaboration with BASE Landscape Architecture and other community groups, we researched the history of the land and the creek. We constructed a 36” by 24” informational placard, which will soon be affixed to the side of the Sacred Stream Center. You can view the placard here.

Our hope is to bring awareness to the history and beauty of the land before the city of Berkeley was built here. You can glimpse this beauty in the Strawberry Creek Park just a few blocks from the Sacred Stream Center, where the creek was daylighted in the 1980s and is now flowing freely. It is our hope that this community project provides education and inspiration to all those who read about the Strawberry Creek Watershed on our placard. If you would like to contribute to this project and help us offset the costs of creating this educational resource for the community, please donate here.