Marin City People’s Plan (MCPP) was formed in 2019 after 25 residents decided to take action about constant flooding in their community. Because of sea-level rise and proximity to sloping hillsides, Highway 101 and the San Francisco Bay, the low-lying, community of Marin City frequently floods. Stormwater infrastructure can’t adequately handle flashy hillside runoff and Donahue Street — the one road in and out of the community — is frequently inundated and impassable. After the group trained with Bay Area experts in a course called “Designing Our Own Solutions,” residents came away not only educated about what was causing the flooding but empowered to initiate solutions to mitigate it. The group learned the significance of “permaculture principles” for watershed design and low-impact design techniques to address coastal adaptation and flooding issues. Armed with this information, MCPP was formed with the mission to raise awareness and activate the community to design and implement nature-based adaptation solutions that address flooding problems related to climate change.
Marin City lies five miles north of San Francisco in one of the richest counties in the United States. But the wealth hasn’t spread to this unincorporated community of about 3,000 that used to be a World War II factory town that attracted many African Americans seeking jobs. Now, determined to improve their frequently flooded community, MCPP, led by June Farmer, has created the Watershed Management Training Program where volunteers receive training in permaculture techniques and design and ecosystem preservation. The group’s pilot project involved the installation of climate-friendly landscaping at the neighborhood First Missionary Baptist Church. The church sits on low-lying land and a nearby, undersized, debris-clogged culvert isn’t doing the job of diverting water away from the structure. MCPP has installed a rain garden as a first step. The garden features native plants and African-heritage plants. Deploying the permaculture principle of “slow it, spread it, sink it,” the garden serves as the first line of defense against water rolling down the hill toward the church.
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