The night before the journey, we kicked things off at the Exploratorium with an outdoor film screening featuring experimental, documentary, and industrial films that trace the literal and metaphorical geography of the four-day trek.
The next morning, the core group set sail from the back deck of the Exploratorium, stopping for a public event on Treasure Island before passing through Emeryville, Oakland, and Berkeley on the way to Camp 1, just shy of the hills above Contra Costa County. Our ultimate destination, visible through the tracks and cables of the Bay Bridge, was Mount Diablo, some 40 miles east.
On the evening before the journey began, the Exploratorium's Cinema Arts group presented an outdoor screening of films that trace the geography of the journey, inspire a sense of exploration, and motivate deeper thinking about the cultural and physical relationships to the landscape along the way.
The core team embarked on the journey, guided by BAADS, the Bay Area’s only nonprofit dedicated to providing sailing programs to people with disabilities and their families, friends, and caregivers. We went across the Bay to Treasure Island, where the public was welcome to join us for a tour of the museum and a discussion, then we headed east to Emeryville.
We made, recorded, and shared observations about the world unfolding just outside the Exploratorium’s windows. People grabbed a washable marker and joined the Explainers in creating an interactive timeline of ships passing, clouds rolling by, and other patterns by writing and drawing directly on the giant East Gallery windows.
The Exploratorium recently launched a buoy next to the museum in the San Francisco Bay. Why is it there? What information is it gathering? Who decided that data was needed, and who uses the data it generates? The California Ocean Science Trust placed the buoy in context, illuminating the web of institutions, science, politics, and decision making that explains where it came from and what it’s helping us to discover.
An artificial island in the San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island has a fascinating past. It was the site of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition; a naval station during WWII; and later served as a naval nuclear, biological, radiological, and chemical warfare training center. Mary Elizabeth Yarbrough and Anne Schnoebelen led a tour of the seldom-open Treasure Island Museum, and Ron Hipschman discussed radiation, offered a Geiger counter show-and-tell, and talked about other top-secret goodies.
After the core group of adventurers docked at the Emeryville Marina, we sat down for lunch in the grass. Others joined us as BAADS representative Margreta von Pein made a brief presentation about this inspiring group and its remarkable activities.
A complex network of streetcars and interurban trains efficiently moved people throughout the East Bay from 1903 and up until auto industry related interests dismantled it in 1958. On our way to Mount Diablo, we walked along many past rail routes from Emeryville through Claremont Ave. Oakland natives Antonio Papania-Davis and Meg Escudé have built some fun hand-held devices that allowed walkers to superimpose historical photographs showing streetcars on our route with the scenes as we find them today. They had also collected historical maps and other ephemera that helped walkers recognize the subtle signs of past streetcar lines as we made our way through Oakland.
We explored some of the creatures in local creeks and methods for collecting them with Exploratorium Senior Science Educator Fred Stein and Muir Garden Instructor Rachel Harris. Later, Rachel took us on a tour of the lovely school garden.
We met at John Muir Elementary for a community movement activity led by the school's dance instructor Valerie Gutwirth, a dancer with over two decades of teaching and performance experience. Valerie lead the group in an on-the-spot choreography of place, journey, and interdependence using selections from the poetry anthology The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and the Imagination, and the words of John Muir. Absolutely no dance experience was necessary.
Hiker Adam Green periodically took photos facing east from wherever he was and posted them to the Exploratorium’s Instagram account. This provided remote participants with a window onto The Windows and through the landscape. The images will be presented post-walk in the form of a booklet of eastward views.
When we explore exhibits or do activities to learn about science, we bring all of who we are with us, including our social and cultural experiences. On this trek, as we took the Exploratorium experience into new settings, we observed and talked with participants, capturing their interactions and reflections to uncover how their explorations and understanding are imbued with who they are.
Rebecca Solnit's wide-ranging book, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, trespasses through fields as diverse as philosophy, evolutionary biology, and urban planning. Inspired by Solnit's study, Marina and Milo contributed a meta-cognitive layer to the trek by focusing on the activity of walking itself through a series of daily reflections, readings, and simple activities on the wonders of bipedalism.
Exploratorium Explainers inspire visitors to engage with the museum's exhibits in creative ways, help out with floor operations, and lead daily demonstrations. One of most popular demos is performing magic tricks for captivated audiences of all ages. At various interludes along the path, Explainer Marcus Mark reached for his deck of cards to delight and astonish us, while simultaneously exploring the relationship between our eyes and our brains.