A Note from the Executive Director Regarding Meander 2019


As I worked on Meander with CWC’s Board, staff, volunteers, vendors and planning team, I was regularly considering what special stories to share with you at Meander. I reflected on growing up in Iowa and moving to Santa Cruz in 2008. My family still lives in Iowa: Mom and Dad, three siblings and their partners, tons of nieces and nephews, most of them still in a small town in rural Iowa. My Dad is aging pretty fast. He’s getting weaker and his balance is failing him. He’s losing his voice, just the vigor of life sort of leaving his body. It’s sad as it’s hard to understand his words. My Dad has so much wisdom to share and he can’t speak, he can’t share it. My family in Santa Cruz has grown with the birth of our son, Oscar, exactly 1 and ½ years ago. Almost every day Oscar seems more and more capable, with growing command of his body. Speech wise, too, he talks all the time….yet not one of us knows what he’s saying. He’s very articulate. It’s just a language we don’t comprehend.  

Recently I’ve connected to the value of generational wisdom, the learning and knowing that is beyond books, that which comes from lived experience or a deeper internal compass. I’m the middle generation, right between my Dad and Oscar. My son has wisdom and can’t speak. My son can barely walk. My Dad has wisdom and can barely speak. My Dad can barely walk. Before my voice is gone, I will use it. Before my legs give out, I will use them. Before my balance falters, I will stay solidly working on what I love: Santa Cruz and the San Lorenzo River.

I’m a transplant and I have come here falling in love with Santa Cruz from the very start. Imagining what could be better is part of my DNA, a trait that suits me well for this job. A transformed riverfront could affect healthy habitat, economic vitality, a sense of safety and welcome in City parks and more.  

The water in the river is cleaner than its reputation, yet it could be better. CWC is working in partnership with the city, county and others to engage residents to improve water quality. Oscar, like your own kids and grandkids, should be able to splash around in this river and not get sick. Every drop of the river will be clean on our watch. Every drop

Biodiversity is increasing and habitat is improving because highly invasive species are removed and native plants are planted at CWC’s River Health Days. Businesses just like yours, including the Santa Cruz WarriorsKaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit ProgramLookerLighthouse Bank, Rotary Clubs, Coastal Commission staff and school groups are rolling up their sleeves, funding the purchase of native plants and working with CWC to improve river beauty and habitat. We have to keep doing that work and believe in it. Every square inch of this Riverwalk will have healthy habitat. Every square inch.

When kids are at the river, everything changes. The bad actors leave or shape up. Passersby stop and enjoy the sounds of kids’ laughter in the air, and they believe in what’s possible for this river. I need you to believe in this, too. Over 2,500 Watershed Rangers have found their voice, being sworn in to care for the river. Imagine 3rd graders and the seriousness with which they take that pledge when they earn their Watershed Ranger badge. They pledge, they swear, they promise, to care for the river. Over 2,500 is a lot. We can do more. Should just some kids, or should every student get to come to the river? We will bring every single child in Santa Cruz to the river. Every single kid.

You have a voice. You have balance. I’m inviting you to help us. Help me, as a leader, guide CWC’s team of Board, staff, volunteers, donors, partners and believers in the future of a healthy river. Help us invest in every drop of water, every square inch of habitat and every child. That’s what Meander is about: investing in this work. That’s what you’re a part of. Santa Cruz is changing. The river will be a part of the future of our city, it’ll feel like the center of Santa Cruz, connected to downtown. It will feel safe and inviting, it’ll be healthy and inspire you with nature’s amazingly simple and complex beauty. That’s what the river’s future will be. Because of you. I invite you to make a donation to CWC and start transforming your river right now.  

I also invite you, in advance, to Meander 2020. I hope you welcome all of these invitations.


Greg Pepping
Executive Director
Coastal Watershed Council
(831) 464-9200 x101

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