The little shoreline park in Rodeo where we painted Sunday is funky like the town itself, but a fun place to paint. Click here to see some of Sue Wilson’s cool photos of the area or her little video of some of us in Da Group painting there. This beach is about 40 feet from the railroad tracks where freight trains and Amtrak trains rumble by, whistles blowing, every 20 minutes or so. One train made me laugh: an engine pulling another two dozen engines which were all riding backwards. It looked so silly.
On the north end of the little beach there’s a broken down old pier and a couple of tin shacks. The shacks and pier are all that remains of the “resort” that a man with big dreams (but apparently little common sense) built there on a former industrial dump. In his later years he allowed a homeless encampment to flourish on his property. When he died his heirs had the vagrants evicted. To get even, they burned the resort down to the ground. The property is worth less than nothing because of the clean up needed due to the toxins under the ground.
Dumps to Cities
Most of the bayfront land in the San Francisco Bay Area is built on former dumps. A combination of ignorance, greed, and “out of sight, out of mind” thinking, led cities and businesses to dump everything from tires and batteries to whole cars; from industrial waste to ordinary garbage into the beautiful bay, eventually creating “landfill” upon which homes, hotels, parks and major freeways were built.
I remember going to the dump at the Berkeley waterfront where you drove up (holding your nose) and dumped your trash in a pile on the ground, seagulls flying overhead. Then the bulldozers would push it into big hills. Now that dump is hidden under Cesar Chavez Park, home of the Berkeley Kite Festival. The park has air vents to allow the methane gas to escape from the garbage dump buried underneath the grassy hills and waterfront trails. Vents won’t help buildings on landfill if there’s a big earthquake and the landfill undergoes liquefaction.
Now trash goes first to a warehouse “transfer station” where it is sorted and then piled onto trucks and hauled to a dump/landfill in another town. (And in my own bit of “out of sight, out of mind” I realized I didn’t know where it went and had to look it up). It’s trucked to Livermore, land of rolling hills and wind farms.
I’ve heard that all the Bay Area dump/landfills are all going to be full within the near future. I hope we learn to do a better job of recycling and precycling before that happens.
Trash and Art
And now to tie this digression about dumps back to art, San Francisco offers an artist in residence program at the Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center where San Francisco’s garbage goes before being trucked away. Artists get 24-hour access to a well-equipped studio, a monthly stipend, and an exhibit at the end of their residency.