2012 Open Space Conference

Crossing Bridges: Creating Possibilities
May 10, 2012


We cross many bridges, both literal and figurative, when we work in land conservation. We face challenges and seek out the opportunities on the other side of what can seem like big valleys. We connect people living in urban environments with our amazing rural landscapes. We foster the next generation to be tomorrow’s leaders. We create partnerships between organizations and across lines on the map. We take lessons from the past and apply them to the future. And some of us commute across an actual bridge made of steel to get to the place we call home after all of this work.

Every time we cross one of these bridges, we create the possibility for more parks and open spaces, a stronger connection between people and land, and a healthier and even better Bay Area.

Learn more about the day:

  • The day’s agenda can be found here
  • The speakers and their bios are here
  • The companies and organizations who exhibited are here
  • Pictures of the day can be found on Flickr
  • Read all about it on our blog




Thank you to all of the 2012 Conference sponsors!


Ecosystem Level:



2010 conference - midpen


Watershed Level:


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2010 conference - GGNPS

Logo_Marin County Parks 40th

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Park Level:


Logo_Greenbelt Alliance




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Logo_Sonoma County Parks

2010 conference - saposd_s logo

2010 conference - SLT

Huge thanks for all of their support:


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2010 conference - presidio trust

2010 conference - GGNRA


8:30am – Welcome and Opening Remarks

Andrea Mackenzie, Chair, Bay Area Open Space Council and General Manager, Santa Clara County Open Space Authority


Getting Back to the Root: Looking Forward to Farms, Food and the Future

Jered Lawson, Co-founder and Executive Director, Pie Ranch


What Do We Mean When We Talk About “Investing in Community”?

Ari Derfel, Co-Founder, Back to Earth Catering and Co-Owner, Gather Restaurant


Once Upon a Time in the 1930s: The New Deal and How It Continues to Determine What Happens Next

Dr. Gray Brechin, Historical Geographer, Author and Founder, Living New Deal


Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time

Steve Dunsky, Video Producer, US Forest Service and Director, Green Fire




Great Women and Green Spaces

Dr. Richard Walker, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley and Author


Celebrating 15 Years of Bay Area Conservation

Amy Hutzel, Bay Area Program Manager, California Coastal Conservancy


Healthy Place, Healthy People:  But How?

Jen Isacoff, Director of Bay Area Parks for People Program, Trust for Public Land

Johnathan Logan Jr., General Manager, Marin City Community Services District


The 2012 Election: What’s In It For Us?

Ben Tulchin, President, Tulchin Research


Lunch – Back to Earth Organic Catering


The New Normal for California State Parks

The Honorable Jared Huffman, California State Assembly


27 Years of Service to California Agriculture and Marin County

Recognition of Bob Berner, Executive Director, Marin Agricultural Land Trust


Future Direction of Conservation in California

Mark Nechodom, Director, California Department of Conservation


Transforming Our Future: One Mind, One Pixel, One Acre at a Time

Remi Abbas, Executive Director, Insight and Strategy, John McNeil Studio


Ecological Urbanisms: Our Shared History of Conservation Is an

Infinite City of Possibilities for the Future

Jon Christensen, Executive Director, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University


The Power of Icon and the Power it Gives to Place

A Photographic Celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge for its 75th Birthday

Anthea Hartig, Executive Director, California Historical Society


Reception: Enjoy Local Wines and Cheese. Back to Earth Organic Catering


4:40pm – Homeward Bound


We are grateful for the time, expertise, and energy of the following speakers who joined us.

Photo_Speakers 04.30

Top L-R: Jen Isacoff, Steve Dunsky, Dr Gray Brechin, Assemblymember Jared Huffman, Jered Lawson.

Middle L-R: Ben Tulchin, Remi Abbas, Dr Anthea Hartig, Ari Derfel, Amy Hutzel.

Bottom L-R: Richard Walker, Mark Nechodom, Andrea Mackenzie, Johnathan Logan, Jon Christensen.

Remi Abbas

After many years of working within the strategy and innovation worlds, Remi’s role of Executive Director, Insight and Strategy at John McNeil Studio is to join insight and creative. He specializes in helping clients connect with their customers through a variety of creative disciplines. From product development, through to advertising; Remi has worked with clients from a variety of different sectors. These include Nokia, Siemens, Coca Cola, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Nike, The Gap group, British Airways, COI, Carphone Warehouse, Air France, Electronic Arts, Diageo, Axe/Lynx, Adidas, Johnson and Johnson and MTV. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Dr. Gray Brechin

Dr. Gray Brechin became an environmentalist when he first read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring on its publication in 1962. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. from the UC Berkeley Department of Geography in 1998, he covered environmental and urban issues as a columnist and television producer in San Francisco. His published dissertation, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin, spent 16 weeks on the San Francisco Chronicle’s best-seller list and is considered a classic of urban studies. He collaborated with photographer Robert Dawson on Farewell, Promised Land: Waking from the California Dream. He is the founder of the Living New Deal project and a Visiting Scholar at the UCB Department of Geography where the Living New Deal is based.

Jon Christensen

Jon Christensen is the Executive Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, and was a co-founder of the Spatial History Project at Stanford, in which he continues to participate as a principal investigator. Jon was an environmental journalist and science writer for 20 years before coming to Stanford in 2002-2003 as a Knight Journalism Fellow. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Nature, High Country News, and many other newspapers, magazines, journals, and radio and television shows. Jon was a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University in 2003-2004, before returning to Stanford to work on a Ph.D. in History. He is finishing a book entitled “Critical Habitat: A History of Thinking with Things in Nature,” currently working on a large collaborative research project on the history of ecological urbanisms, comparing patterns of conservation of parks and open space with development patterns in the 40 largest cities in the United States and in other global cities.

Ari Derfel

Ari Derfel is co-owner of Gather, the critically acclaimed, sustainable restaurant in Berkeley, California, and co-founder of Back to Earth Organic Catering, the first organic catering company in the US.  The NY Times called Gather, “a Michael Pollan book come to life” and Esquire Magazine named Gather one of the Best New Restaurants of 2010.  Ari is the former Executive Director of Slow Money, a national organization focused on catalyzing investment in Local Food Systems. Ari is also internationally known for his work on waste and consumerism, and has been featured in numerous print, television, web and radio media worldwide.

Steve Dunsky

Steve Dunsky has written and directed documentaries for more than twenty-five years. As a producer for the U.S. Forest Service,  his projects cover a wide range of conservation issues.  He works closely with his wife Ann, who is an editor and producer with the Forest Service. In 2005, they produced the award-winning history of the Forest Service called The Greatest Good.  In 2010, they completed an independent documentary called Butterflies & Bulldozers about the local fight save San Bruno Mountain.  Their most recent project is called Green Fire, about the great conservationist Aldo Leopold.  This coming October, it will serve as the focal point for the Geography of Hope Conference at Pt Reyes.

Dr. Anthea Hartig

Dr. Anthea M. Hartig recently joined the California Historical Society as Executive Director after six years with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she directed the Trust’s Western Office and served the six continental far western states along with Hawai’i, Alaska and the Pacific Island Territories of Guam and Micronesia. Previously Dr. Hartig taught history and cultural studies at La Sierra University in Riverside and graduate courses in historic preservation at the University of California, Riverside from where she holds a Ph.D. and Master’s Degree.

Dr. Hartig’s interest in the relevance of California’s stories and places has come to define her professional and advocational life. She served as a municipal preservation planner for over a decade, and owned a cultural resources consulting firm. She has served on many local, statewide and national history-related non-profit foundations’ boards of directors, including the California Preservation Foundation and the California Council for the Promotion of History, and has published in both academic and professional journals. Under Governor Gray Davis, she served as Chairperson of the State Historical Resources Commission.

Assemblymember Jared Huffman

Elected to the California Assembly in November 2006, Assembly Member Jared Huffman has earned respect as a legislator who tackles complex public policy challenges, works tirelessly, and gets results – often by forging consensus on seemingly intractable issues. As Chair of the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, he was also instrumental in crafting and passing an historic package of water reforms in 2009.

Prior to his election, he was a Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One of his proudest accomplishments at NRDC was helping forge an agreement that is restoring a 153-mile stretch of the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley. Prior to joining NRDC, Huffman was a successful public interest attorney in private practice. His court victories included several major jury verdicts in gender discrimination and race discrimination trials, and a historic case on behalf of the National Organization for Women that required all California State University campuses to comply with Title IX, creating new athletic opportunities for thousands of female scholar-athletes throughout the state.

Huffman’s first run for public office was in 1994 at the age of 30, when he won a seat on the board of the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD). He was re-elected twice and served a total of 12 years on the MMWD board, including three terms as Board President.

Huffman graduated magna cum laude from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and cum laude from Boston College Law School. Prior to law school, he was a three-time NCAA All-American athlete and member of the World Champion United States Volleyball Team.

Amy Hutzel

Amy Hutzel has managed the San Francisco Bay Area Program of the State Coastal Conservancy since November of 2006. The Bay Program has a staff of ten, who manage state funding to achieve the Conservancy’s goals of open space protection, public access and recreation, and habitat restoration in the nine-county Bay Area. From 2000 until 2006 she served as a project manager in the Bay Program, focused on wetland restoration projects, namely the Napa River Salt Marsh and the South Bay Salt Ponds, but also managing other grants, including urban creek projects, Ridge Trail and Bay Trail projects, and land acquisitions. She has a bachelor degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia. She worked as an environmental educator at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and as education coordinator at Save San Francisco Bay Association prior to joining the State Coastal Conservancy.

Jen Isacoff

Jen Isacoff is director of The Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People—Bay Area program. A licensed landscape architect, Jen works with communities and public agencies to develop and improve parks and playgrounds into vital community assets. Before joining The Trust for Public Land in 2004, Jen worked with two other Bay Area landscape architecture/urban planning firms where she specialized in public projects with an emphasis on community involvement in planning and design.  Jen holds a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from UC Davis and a M.A. in Education from Stanford University.

Jered Lawson

Jered Lawson is a co-Founder and the Executive Director of Pie Ranch, a 27-acre educational farm on the southern coast of San Mateo County. Before starting Pie Ranch in 2003, Jered worked with various organizations in California that share a common goal of influencing the way people relate to themselves, each other and the land around them through the development of healthier local food systems. Jered helped start Pie Ranch’s youth education and new-farmer training programs in 2005. He leads the organization’s regional advocacy efforts, joins in farm operations and raises support for the social change work of Pie Ranch.

Johnathan Logan, Jr.

Johnathan Logan, Jr. is the General Manager of the Marin City Community Services District, which is Marin City’s local government.  As General Manager, Logan has played a key leadership role in many local projects including developing the Marin City Health and Wellness Clinic, initiating the Community of Promise Initiative, and fundraising activities for youth, adult and senior programs.  Johnathan has worked in local government for the past eight years both in Marin City and Seattle, WA.  He has a Masters of Public Administration degree from City University of New York, Baruch College and a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Management from Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, OK.  He is also a proud Nation Urban Fellow, a national network of public administrators working in urban communities across the country.

Andrea Mackenzie

Andrea Mackenzie has over 25 years of experience working for agricultural and open space preservation and land conservation agencies. Andrea is the General Manager at the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority.  She served as Project Director to the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County for development of a Conservation Blueprint for Santa Cruz County. Andrea was the General Manager of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District from 2000-2009 and in 2006 led the successful effort to reauthorize the District’s ¼ percent sales tax by 76 percent. Andrea previously worked as an environmental planner with the East Bay Regional Park District and the City and County of San Francisco. Andrea is President of the Bay Area Open Space Council. Andrea is a past fellow of the National Conservation Leadership Institute in Shepherdstown , W. VA. Andrea has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from U.C. Santa Barbara and a M.A. in Urban Planning and Natural Resources from U.C.L.A.

Mark Nechodom

Mark Nechodom is the Director of California’s Department of Conservation (DOC). Mark has dedicated his professional life to integrating conservation, regulation and development right where it matters the most: on the land, on the farm, and in the forest. His mission has been to inspire sustainable production and practices while maintaining a sensible balance between economic opportunities, environmental health and human well-being. Prior to his recent appointment as DOC Director, Mark was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). He also served as Director of the Office of Environmental Markets at USDA, and as the Senior Climate Science Policy Advisor to the Chief of the US Forest Service. Mark was the USDA representative on the team that negotiated the greenhouse gas reporting protocol for forestry for California’s Climate Action Reserve, and provided scientific and technical support to the California Air Resources Board and the Board of Forestry in the development of the state climate strategy under AB 32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006).  Mark earned his doctorate in political science and environmental policy from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he taught for several years.

Aileen Suzara

Aileen Suzara is a second generation Filipina/American educator, environmental justice advocate and emerging young farmer. With roots in Hawai’i and California, she is passionate about bridging communities of color with healthy, just food. Aileen is a graduate of the UCSC Farm and Garden program and a current farm apprentice at Pie Ranch.

Ben Tulchin

Founder and President of Tulchin Research, Ben Tulchin has provided research and consulting services to a wide range of clients across the country, including candidates for elected office, ballot measures, labor unions, non-profits, corporations, and foundations.

Recently named Top New Democratic Consulting Firm of the year by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), Tulchin serves as a senior strategist for candidate and ballot measure campaigns. He has directed the polling operation for candidates at all levels of the ballot box, from president to city council. His clients have included former DNC Chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean, former California Governor Gray Davis, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Harry Reid, among many others. Tulchin has helped elect and re-elect several members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the California State Legislature, and several mayors around the country.

Prior to launching Tulchin Research, Tulchin started and directed Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research’s California office, worked for the California-based polling firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, as well as the Washington, DC-based polling firms of Garin-Hart-Yang, Lake-Snell-Perry, and Greenberg Research, where he began his career in polling. Mr. Tulchin received his Bachelor’s degree in History from Amherst College and resides in San Francisco.

Dr. Richard Walker

Richard Walker is professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught for 35 years. He has written on a range of topics in economic, urban, and environmental geography. He is co-author of The Capitalist Imperative (1989) and The New Social Economy (1992), and has written extensively on California, including The Conquest of Bread (2004) and The Country in the City (2007), which received the Hal Rothman Prize in Western History. He is working on a book about the political economy of California from the Gold Rush to the Great Recession.


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