Living the Dream

When I was little and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my immediate answer was “a dancer!” I loved to dance and took ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance classes for many years, aspiring to one day dance backup for Janet Jackson. And even though I danced through college—adding swing and salsa to my repertoire—I realized that was one dream that wouldn’t come true.

However, industrial pollution in my hometown lit a simultaneous fire in me to stop corporate polluters. And fortunately, that goal was slightly more attainable. I followed a path to law school, which led me to Baykeeper.

Now, I’ve got a dream job leading a wicked-smart team that’s patrolling the Bay by boat, piloting drones, and catching polluters red handed. Our scientists are collecting evidence of polluters spewing petcoke into the Bay, blowing coal dust into nearby neighborhoods, and spilling oil that kills fish and birds—and then our lawyers are holding those bad actors accountable. It’s deeply satisfying to be living my lifelong dream.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when an opportunity recently arose to revisit my earlier childhood ambition.

In 2021, Baykeeper partnered with Grammy-nominated artist RyanNicole and Oakland’s Hip Hop for Change, courtesy of a Creative Work Fund grant. It was a year-long collaboration to create a new song called Small but Mighty.

The song means a lot to me personally. The Hip Hop lyrics I listened to growing up were often pointless, violent, and misogynistic. But RyanNicole sings truth to power. Small but Mighty is an anthem for the Bay that rallies people around a single cause: to fight the corporations that are poisoning us.

And when the idea came up to create a music video for the song with youth dancers from Destiny Arts in Oakland, I jumped at the chance to be part of the dance crew.

We just released the song on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services, and the music video is on YouTube. The goal is to reach new audiences with Baykeeper’s unique brand of activism and inspire a whole new generation to fight for justice around the Bay.

As RyanNicole aptly puts it, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when? There’s no one coming to save you… there’s no time to wait, tomorrow needs you to be a hero.” That’s Baykeeper’s anthem as well. Individually, we’re small, but if we act together now, we can be a mighty force.