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Friend of the Month | Ryder Diaz

Meet Ryder Diaz, our newest watershed site leader. Ryder is launching a community cleanup effort at Austin Square – a small creekside lot in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. We’re excited to support him and his neighbors as they envision a cleaner, greener, and more accessible creek-space for their community. 

FOSC: What is your connection to the Sausal Creek Watershed?

Ryder: I live across the street from Sausal Creek. Although the creek isn't in my backyard, I really benefit from the abundant wildlife that relies on Sausal Creek. There are so many beautiful native birds and insects in my backyard due to the nearby creek.

FOSC: When and how did you first get involved with FOSC? 

Ryder: I first learned about Friends of Sausal Creek when I started working as the Natural Sciences Curator at the Oakland Museum of California. There was a part of the gallery that featured the work of FOSC and a map of all the creeks in Oakland. I was really inspired by the restoration work that FOSC did at Dimond Park and was excited to see that kind of work expand across the entire watershed. A few years later, I moved near Sausal Creek and I knew that I wanted to get involved with FOSC to do habitat restoration in my own neighborhood.

FOSC: Tell us a bit about Austin Square and how you and your neighbors are taking on stewardship of that space? 

Ryder: The Fruitvale neighborhood has a real lack of public greenspace, probably largely due to the enduring legacies of redlining in Oakland – but every person should have easy access to nature. When I came across Austin Square, I saw an incredible opportunity for a thriving greenspace with abundant native plant and animal life that could be enjoyed by all. I also saw the opportunity to build that kind of space alongside my wonderful neighbors. 

Sausal Creek runs in a channel through the middle of the small lot. Currently, there are a lot of invasive plants on the site. However, there are native plants thriving on the site as well, including a lovely California buckeye that's currently in full bloom. Neighbors have also seen trout in this stretch of the creek. It took a bit of persistence to get the necessary permissions to steward the site, but we are excited to care for this land and we know that it will care for us in return.

FOSC: What are some of the ideas that you hope for Austin Square? 

Ryder: I'd love to help nurture a thriving ecosystem on this little lot, with areas for nesting birds and pollinators, habitat for aquatic invertebrates and fish, and a diverse array of native plants. I'm also looking forward to building deeper relationships with my neighbors here.  

If you would like to join Ryder for a workday, please email **The next workday is coming up Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.**

You can also find Ryder co-leading monthly birding trips for queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC) in the East Bay. If you identify as QTPOC, you can learn more about monthly birding trips by following @qtpocbirders on IG. 


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