Locals celebrate 10 years of Schoolhouse Creek Common

Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: Brad Smith

On Sunday May 1, neighbors in North-West Berkeley came together for a day to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Schoolhouse Creek Common. The gathering was also an occasion to thank Jamie Day, who is described as “the guiding light and spark plug” for the development of the park by the neighborhood, and his wife, Phyllis Orrick, both of whom have done so much to create and maintain this open space.

The common, which is on the corner of Curtis and Virginia streets, is a 9,000-square-foot park that is both loved and maintained by local residents. It is located near the site of an elementary school that was built there in 1856.

The original school was replaced by the San Pablo Avenue School and then, later, the Franklin Elementary School. In 2003, Franklin was closed, and a year later the Berkeley Adult School moved into its remodeled buildings.

Schoolhouse Creek Common, created by citizen volunteers with the help of the Berkeley City Council — including then councilwoman Nancy Skinner — and the Berkeley Unified School District, opened on May 13, 2006. It continues to be supported by BUSD.

Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1. Photo: Brad Smith

Neighbors are very much stewards of the common. There is a one-time membership fee of $1 and a request that neighbors contribute what they can afford to Schoolhouse Creek Common. To date, over $8,500 has been contributed. A scheduled gathering of neighbors happens from 10 a.m. to noon the second Saturday of every month, with a rain day the following Saturday, but neighbors can be found doing work at the common at any time, according to Smith, who also gives a shout-out to two particularly significant supporters.

“Without much in the way of formal process, and with the unanimous consent of the neighbors, Jamie Day and Phyllis Orrick have become the shepherds of both the park and of the neighbors who are making the vision of Schoolhouse Creek Common a reality,” he said. “That vision includes native California plants, an orchard, a play area for young children, benches and picnic tables, and a space for meetings.”

See more photos of the May 1 celebration, below, and read a history of the Common, written by Smith.

Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1. Photo: Brad Smith
Phyllis Orrick and Jamie Day. Photo: Brad Smith
Phyllis Orrick and Jamie Day. Photo: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
Adult School Principal Tom Reid, councilmembers Linda Maio and Laurie Capitelli. Photo: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1. Photo: Brad Smith
Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
Jamie Day at the Common celebration on May 1. Photo: Brad Smith

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.