By Anne Petersen
California State Parks Foundation staff welcomes park advocates. Photo by Anne Petersen.
On May 7, 2019 Associate Director for Public Engagement Kevin McGarry and I attended Park Advocacy Day in Sacramento, which is sponsored annually by the California State Parks Foundation. We arrived for a day of training with CASPF on May 6, which included a legislative update and a workshop on effective storytelling by the Department of Here.
New research findings about youth and parks. Photo by Kevin McGarry.
On Advocacy Day all 150 participants, most from nonprofits like the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation that support California State Parks, gathered for additional training before our legislative meetings. Highlights of the morning included an address by Director of State Parks Lisa Mangat and a presentation from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability about the value of California State Parks as a health intervention for young people.
Arriving at the State Capital. Phota by Anne Petersen.
Our small team for legislative meetings included Spencer Robbins, a graduate student with the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Julia Metzer, executive director of Clockshop, an arts nonprofit collaborating with State Parks on the Bowtie project along the Los Angeles River. Tracy Verardo-Torres, our team leader, is an independent consultant specializing in park advocacy.
L-R, Spencer Robbins, Anne Petersen, Monique Limon, Kevin McGarry, Tracey Verardo-Torres, Julia Metzer.
Our team held five legislative meetings, with Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Assemblymember Monique Limón, Assemblymember Christy Smith and Assemblymember Richard Bloom. We encouraged each legislator to support pending park bills, including Limon and Carrillo’s bills supporting access to parks, as well as the need to protect the 5% of Proposition 68 funds that were earmarked for park access, which is under legal dispute.
We specifically discussed SBTHP’s programs at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park including CASA Camp, designed to provide invitation and access to nearby State Parks for Santa Barbara Housing Authority residents. These programs align well with the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability‘s initial findings that the people most in need of access to parks often will not come, or feel welcome, on their own. They are much more likely to attend and take advantage of the park resources, no matter how close the park is to their residence, through responding to targeted programming designed to serve them.
For SBTHP, this experience was invaluable in terms of both making sure our work is heard at the State Capital, meeting new colleagues which whom we have much in common, and being able to tie our work in with this statewide study, a confirmation that our programs are relevant, valued, and helping to serve those most in need. We look forward to attending again next year.
Anne Petersen is the executive director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.