Travels in China: Part 2

What was not to love about China?

Well, I will give you a second to go brew a cup of loose leaf tea; also, if you missed yesterday’s missive, go here.

I know you have been dying to get the dirt about what went wrong on the China trip. So I will tell you. I missed our second annual volunteer day here in San Francisco at NYSE Arca Options. Bet you weren’t expecting that!

No really, it is a big deal, and it is always a good time. Not only do you get to give back to your community, you get to work in some of the most beautiful places on Earth with your friends from work. Allow me to brag on my colleagues? Last year, we set out to save the dolphins on our first volunteer day. This year, Wall Street West occupied the redwood forest, at least for the day.


On a cool and beautiful Saturday, 32 amazing volunteers from NYSE Arca Options SF, including children and one adorable dog, set out to rehabilitate a part of the Redwood Regional Park in the beautiful Oakland Hills. That Saturday morning was a brisk 43 degrees and a bit foggy, perfect day to work outside.

Our team of volunteers got to meet Ranger Jim Rutledge. These lucky people got to follow his guidance for the day.  He sounds like a guy I could work for. His motto, “I don’t allow stresses or complications on Saturdays, it’s all about the chill.” As you can tell, we are located squarely in the San Francisco Bay Area!

The park uses volunteers for many different tasks. No experience is necessary and the park provides the training and the tools. The good news is they have a job for all skill levels. Volunteers clear brush to reduce the fuel load to help prevent fires. They also rip out non-native plants and plant native species to maintain biodiversity.

Our team’s project was restoration, beautification and biodiversity. Excitement was at hand as the volunteers grabbed gloves, shovels, bulbs, baby ferns and trees. The team set about digging, clawing, and smoothing as they started to transform their part of the forest. They ensured all bulbs were planted to perfection and the baby ferns had a chance to grow to adult ferns. After planting, they laid out cardboard, piecing it together like a quilt, where it carpeted the forest floor to nurture the new plants, protecting their fragility while keeping weeds away.

Ranger Jim would walk around and make sure everything was going well.  He would often say “Muy Perfecto” when he saw someone doing a good job. You got to love it, only in California.

Finally, came the time for manicuring:  everyone loaded buckets and wheelbarrows with mulch and wood-chips.  This is where the kids went wild! No longer was this an individual effort, everyone became part of the team, connecting with each other and with the land. Alex Duenas, Analyst on the SF-Trade desk remarked, “I have to admit this is pretty fun.”

Not only did our team give back to the community by doing manual labor but they also had fun. All of which I missed while in China. Sometimes you have to sacrifice.

Come back tomorrow and we’ll get back to my travels in China.