1. Wendy Rajan

Pinole Creek soundwalk

I welcome you to join me on a soundwalk in a picturesque town of Pinole, California that took place on Friday, September 29th, 2023. The sky was blue, and the air felt warm against my skin as I walked along the Pinole Creek path into the downtown area, and towards Point Pinole waterfront. I open the soundwalk with the rejuvenating and rhythmic waves of San Pablo Bay at Pinole waterfront; where you can easily walk on the bank and touch the water should you choose to do so. After the rejuvenating sounds of waves, you will hear rustic crushing sounds of dried fallen leaves made by human footsteps along the exposed and overly vegetated Pinole Creek that runs along the town’s residential and historic downtown spaces. If you listen closely, you will hear sounds of rustling leaves on trees as the wind caresses its surface, alongside the creek. Adjacent to and above the Pinole creek is the man-made built landscape where you can hear dominating sounds of vehicle rumble on the Interstate 80 freeway and on the town roads nearby. Besides the common vehicle rumble sounds that you hear in my soundwalk, you will hear the humming of heavy construction machinery in the vicinity to the Pinole waterfront. This machinery humming sound is caused by heavy construction equipment used in the sewer/water line upgrading project in Pinole. I concluded my soundwalk with the San Pablo Bay waves because it is necessary to slowdown, absorb, and appreciate the refreshing sounds of nature that we have grown to ignore from our fast pasted lifestyles.

Clement St. S.F. soundwalk

Please join me and experience a soundwalk at Clement Street, also known as the second Chinatown, located in San Francisco’s inner Richmond district that took place on a beautiful and warm October 13th, 2023. Throughout my soundwalk you will hear the vibrant energies of community support ranging in various age groups, in and out of the storefronts on Clement Street. Besides listening to people in communication, you will also hear songs playing inside of the cute small-scale early 20th century shops that may bring about a flashback, or even take you to another place on the globe. You will hear unique ting tang, click clack sounds inside of a restaurant warehouse, and layers of tapping sounds of cash registers, squishing plastic grocery bags all amongst people’s conversations. If you listen carefully, you will hear faintly squeaking sounds of metal rolling carts pushed by senior citizens loaded with fresh produce. In this soundwalk you can hear the variations of man-made elements together in combination of strong community support that shapes a resilient and thriving place such as Clement Street.

San Lorenzo Creek soundwalk
Come and experience a soundwalk with me in downtown Hayward, Ca and a section of the San Lorenzo Creek in proximity to Ruby Meadows. I warn you in advance that this soundwalk contains loud sounds in case you are sensitive to it. You will hear sounds of transformation in progress between A Street and Main Street and in other parts of downtown Hayward. This loud sound may be familiar to you, but if not then it is the sound of concrete drilling equipment at work. Shifting away from the sound of concrete being deformed, you will hear from people about their struggles and conflicts towards housing changes taking place in Hayward. Also, I invite you to listen to the flowing water in San Lorenzo creek where I found myself interacting with a polluted plastic bottle on the banks of the creek. The tapping sound of the plastic bottle does not justify the sound for all the small and large man-made pollution that was laying in the creek, on the banks of the creek, and hanging from tree branches on the loose sedimentary wall of the creek. After listening to this soundwalk you will gather that the City of Hayward has invested into modernizing its housing and sewer line infrastructure, while neglecting to keep the San Lorenzo Creek in proximity to the Japanese garden free of trash.

Lobos Creek soundwalk

I am sharing my Lobos Creek soundwalk that took place on October 13th, 2023, on a clear and beautiful day in San Francisco. On the trail of Lobos Creek, I experienced being in a tranquil space where the sandy hill slope was in its most natural setting with native vegetation planted mostly in the lower valley. Lobos Creek itself was protected by metal fencing which I suspect will aid in sustainability, avoid human encroachment, and pollution. In this soundwalk you will hear the free-flowing water and some human voices at a far distance. If you listen very carefully you may even hear birds communicating with each other at a distance. As I followed the unpaved narrow vegetated trail towards Baker Beach, I accounted an unexpected scene of Halloween festivities from which you can hear people’s laughter. You will also hear energizing sounds of gurgling water where the Lobos Creek flows out from the culvert onto the sandy beach at Baker Beach. Besides the creeks gurgling sound, you can hear the strong powerful waves of the Pacific Ocean with layers of soft human voices at Baker Beach.

Bushy Dell Creek Soundwalk
Join me on a soundwalk to Bushy Dell Creek Park in Piedmont, California, where the creek is mostly constructed subsurface and is only visible in two locations. One is at the top entrance of the park trail and the other towards the lower end of the trail. In this soundwalk you will hear the pleasant sound of gently flowing water amongst the rocks. As I pivot and strolled on the tranquil park trail surrounded by tree canopy, I am welcomed by the harmonious sound of birds chirping, wind chimes tinkling, leaves rustling and even tennis balls tapping. Shifting away from the Bushy Dell Park and coming into a slightly more populated neighborhood, you will hear children at their carefree moments. A few steps away I find myself in a tranquil up-scale mostly white residential neighborhood. In this beautifully maintained landscape, you will hear sounds of cars driving by on the road. As I ventured into Oakland, the soundscape changed dramatically. Grand Avenue was a diversity of everyday sounds of rumbling vehicles, honking horns, rolling laundry carts, and the chatter of pedestrians. Not only was Grand Avenue diverse in sound, but it was busy with diverse people. Sonically a stark contrast to the peaceful sounds of Bushy Dell Creek Park. Continuing my soundwalk, I reached Lake Merritt. I heard the flapping wings of egrets, the laughter of children playing, and the gentle lapping of water against the shore. It was a reminder that even in the bustling city of Oakland’s Grand Avenue, there are pockets of tranquility to be found.

Trash sound at San Lorenzo Creek