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Now it’s many friends of the creek

By Kenyatte Davis Daily Planet staff
Monday August 13, 2001

Twelve years ago, Janet Byron moved to Berkeley to attend UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism. 

Four years ago, Byron bought a home on Allston Way that featured a creek running through the backyard. 

Eight months ago, Byron founded Friends of Strawberry Creek, a community activism group interested in restoring the creek, improving the quality of its water, daylighting the creek wherever possible and educating the community about how their lifestyles affect the creek. 

Now, Byron’s monthly meetings have grown to include an average fellowship of 20 concerned Berkeley residents and her e-mail list has grown to 150 names and addresses. 

“I’ve really been gratified by the interest that people have shown,” said Byron. “People were just waiting for someone to take a leadership role. People in Berkeley really love Strawberry Creek.” 

Beyond organizing the group’s monthly meetings, Byron has sent out e-mail updates at least once a month, many of which have included important information for people who live near Strawberry Creek. 

“When there’s a spill, the city puts up signs at Strawberry Creek Park and on campus, but many people weren’t being informed,” said Byron. “We’re making sure people who live on the creek know when there’s a problem.” 

Byron has also arranged many work parties to clean up the creek. Earlier this year Byron started removing ivy from the portion of the creek that is on her property, and with the help of her fellow Friends of Strawberry Creek, the appearance and health of the creek in that area has vastly approved. 

“Before we started work, you couldn’t even see where the creek came out of the culvert,” said Byron. “Now people walking by just stop and look at the creek in front of my house.” 

The group has also been removing ivy and debris from the creek behind Strawberry Creek Lodge, a residence for low- to moderate-income senior citizens, since April. 

During a June work party, the group noticed a crumbling culvert on the lodge’s property, which, if gone unnoticed, could have become a serious threat to the residents of the lodge and their neighbors. 

“They’ve simply been fantastic. Without them we literally wouldn’t have known about the problems with the culvert,” said Lodge Administrator Lois O’Connell. “We don’t have the funds to pay people to come and do the work that they are doing. The first day they were out here they pulled a shopping cart out of the creek that had been an eyesore since before I can even remember.” 

The group has many events planned for the upcoming month. They will have work parties at Strawberry Creek Lodge on August 18 and September 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

On September 8, they will also set up a booth at the Watershed Poetry Festival. 

On September 10, the group will have another meeting to further discuss the possibility of daylighting Strawberry Creek downtown. The meeting will be held in the Green Room of Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way starting at 7:30 p.m. 

For information about Friends of Strawberry Creek and their meetings contact Janet Byron at or at 848-4008.For information about the work parties contact Jane Kelly at or 528-3949.