The Open Space Council Blog


Growing, Learning, and Embracing Change Together

May 20, 2018


The 19th annual Open Space Conference’s theme was all about Conservation in a Time of Change – changes in perspectives, demographics, the climate, and funding sources. That theme was woven into every part of the event, from recognizing the land and native people whose land the conference was on, to the Leadership Development Program, down to the bike tour to Unity Park, and everything in between.

While change is continually happening it felt especially pronounced over the past year. From historic weather events across our region and state, to shifts in national policies and societal trends, the impetus to change how we think and act felt as critical as ever. And that impetus drove new partnerships, new ways of doing business, and mobilized the region to act as an organized and engaged constituency. Hope created action and action created opportunity, like the chance to secure much-needed funding through Prop 68, the $4.1 billion California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act. Because of this hope, action, and opportunity all Californians will now be able to weigh in on this on June 5, potentially providing resources than can support new and exciting ways to innovate, partner together, and fund conservation.

On May 10, 2018, a record-breaking 500 attendees came together at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond. Many of them experienced the conference for the first time. This is what it looked like:

This year’s program included many new faces, important voices, and thought-provoking leaders, including:



Most of the speakers’ presentations are now available for viewing here.

This year we hosted 26 organizations, companies and agencies in our Exhibitor Hall. They offered products and services that advance conservation work. And a few of them joined as inaugural members of our newly minted Business Supporter membership program. Join us in welcoming them to the fun!

To continue to adapt and change, we asked attendees to let us know what they thought of the conference. 104 people (that’s 21% of  folks at the event) responded to our post-conference survey. There’s still time to chime in here! We heard a ton of terrific feedback about the things we should keep on doing, and the things we should change. We’re taking it all into consideration as we plan the 20th annual Open Space Conference in May 2019.

See more photos and hear what people were saying using #2018OSC on Twitter.

We are very grateful to this year’s speakers for their time and expertise. They were:


We thank the exhibitors for their products, services, and interest in working together:


We are grateful to the team of volunteers who made the conference happen by working on many tasks before, during, and after the conference. We thank the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for providing shuttles to and from the venue and BART, the Watershed Nursery for the wonderful native plants that graced our stage, Groundwork Richmond for leading the bike tour, Town Kitchen for feeding us and the important work they do, REI for the lounge, bikes, and gorp, Patagonia Provisions for the afternoon snacks, and Green Mary for diverting but one bag of waste from landfill thanks to their composting and recycling services.

And last but definitely not least, we thank this year’s sponsors for making the 19th annual Open Space Conference possible:


Photos by the talented Jennifer Hale.