Pepperwood Preserve

2014 Open Space Conference

Welcoming, Interacting, Participating
May 8, 2014, Golden Gate Club, Presidio


Why do we need to engage people in the protection and stewardship of parks, trails, working lands and other protected lands? The reasons are numerous and well-known.

How do we do that? How do we create a culture in land conservation that is welcoming, interactive and participatory? How do we encourage people of all kinds to engage in meaningful ways to our efforts to protect and steward land? These are more challenging questions than the question of ‘why,’ but increasingly just as important. How we involve people in land conservation today will set the tone for land conservation tomorrow. But this isn’t a one-way street where we need to convince others of the value of protected lands. This is an exchange of information and resources that flows in both ways at the individual, organizational and regional levels.

Learn more about the conference:

  • The day’s agenda and selected presentations can be found here
  • The speakers and their bios are here
  • Read all about it on our blog



Thank you to all of the 2014 Conference sponsors!

Regional level

Logo_Midpeninsula Open Space District


Ecosystem level

Logo_Parks Conservancy_

Logo_Marin County Parks_

2010 conference - saposd_s logo


Watershed level

   Logo_CA Rangeland Trust

     Logo_EBRPD 80th anniversary

Logo_Northgate low


Logo_Open Space Authority 2014


Logo_Save the Redwoods


Logo_Sonoma Land Trust 2014





Park level

Logo_Adler Colvin



  Logo_Greenbelt Alliance


 Logo_HT Harvey




Logo_Muir Heritage Land Trust


Logo_Olofson Environmental





Logo_POST low


Logo_Restoration Design Group jpg




Logo_Save Mount Diablo



scc logo

moore foundation logo

Logo_Kaiser Permanente

Logo_Presidion Trust 2014


Select presentations and videos are available below.

9:00am – Welcome, Paul Ringgold, Board Chair

Starting with the question of “why?”

Doug McConnell, OpenRoad.TV

Creating pathways that foster environmental stewards

Elizabeth Babcock, California Academy of Sciences

Click here to see her presentation


Same goals, same values, different tools

Karen Buhr, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts

A State of Harmony from Bay Area Open Space Council on Vimeo.

Ranching as a part of, not apart from, our communities

Doniga Markegard, Markegard Family Grass-Fed

Click here to see her presentation


Audiences and art, visitors and parks

Rene de Guzman, Oakland Museum of California

Click here to see his presentation

The trails I’ve been on and my path forward

Austin McIrnery, National Interscholastic Cycling Association and

Sarah Koch, Lick-Wilmerding High School and NorCal High School Cycling League

Click here to see their presentation

Click here to see their video

Singletrack High Teaser from Pedal Born Pictures on Vimeo.

12:00pm – Lunch

Optional walking tour to Tree Fall by Andy Goldsworthy

1:00pm – Crowdsourcing art, creating supporters

Max Slavkin, Creative Action Network

Click here to see his presentation

Story telling about the land through ethnic media

Kay Wang, New America Media

Click here to see her presentation

Click here to see her video

East Bay Parks (Kay) from New America Media on Vimeo.

And click here to see a bonus feature of a media tour that she described in her talk

How to take something small and make it really BIG

Gretchen LeBuhn, San Francisco State University and The Sunflower Project

Click here to see her presentation

Meetups: small group conversations about topics that you care about with people who also care about it.

  1. Stewardship: What are the challenges and opportunities facing our efforts to appropriately steward lands and watersheds?
  2. Wildlife corridors: how can we work across boundaries, especially with a changing climate, to enhance wildlife corridors? What’s next for the region?
  3. Working lands: What are the challenges and opportunities facing working lands – farms, ranches, forests – in the Bay Area?
  4. Public access: How do land managers balance the demand for public access with conservation goals?
  5. Urban parks: What are the trends and opportunities for urban conservation?
  6. Regional policy and funding: How can we move the needle on policy and funding for better land use and conservation throughout the Bay Area?
  7. California State Parks: What will the next year, two years and 10 years look like for our State Parks and what can we do to support them?
  8. Communications and outreach: What are new tools and ways to connect with new audiences?
  9. Your Bay Area initiative: What can we do to strengthen our collective efforts and build a movement?
  10. Maps and apps: How are mobile and web-based tools being used to get people outside?
  11. Climate resilience: What infrastructure decisions are being made now that affect conservation in the future? How can water agencies, cities, counties, special districts and other planners better coordinate?
  12. Yo Cuento: stories, inclusion and the outdoors. How do we create an inclusive conversation?

Climbing the ladder of engagement from parks into advocacy

Rue Mapp, Outdoor Afro

Click here to see her presentation

Click here to see the video starring Blair Underwood

From below to above the radar

Steve Abbors, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Keynote: The next big thing and you

John Laird, California Secretary of Natural Resources

4:15pm – Wine reception

5:00pm – Homeward bound

Guest appearances throughout the day by:


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

Our Keynote speaker was:

Photo_John Laird

Secretary John Laird

John Laird was appointed California Secretary for Natural Resources by Governor Jerry Brown on Jan. 5, 2011. He has spent 35 years in public service, including 23 years as an elected official. In 2002, Laird was elected to represent the 27th Assembly District in the California Assembly, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties. He was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2006, when he received more than 70 percent of the vote.

While serving the maximum three terms, Laird authored 82 bills that were signed into law. These bills established the landmark Sierra Nevada Conservancy, restored community college health services, expanded and clarified state civil rights protections, reformed the state mandates system, and significantly expanded water conservation.

Laird was a member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board from 2008 to 2009. Most recently, he taught state environmental policy at University of California Santa Cruz.

The Open Space Conference inspired with the following speakers:

Photo_Elizabeth Babcock

Elizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D

Elizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D., educator, anthropologist and experience designer, seeks to inspire audiences young and old with the wonder of science and nature through innovative public programming, education programs, and experience design. The Chief Public Engagement Officer and Roberts Dean of Education at the California Academy of Sciences, Elizabeth helps to lead a number of regional partnerships focused on STEM learning and environmental education. She serves as a steering committee member for ChangeScale, a regional environmental education collaborative. Elizabeth was honored by the White House and the Institute for Museum and Library Services as one of 12 Champions of Change in STEM learning in 2013 and by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the Bay Area’s 150 Most Influential Women in 2011.@calacademy


Photo_Karen Buhr

Karen Buhr

Karen Buhr serves as the Executive Director for the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD). In this role, she actively works on various conservation issues from grazing to water and serves on multiple statewide committees. Her focus is bringing diverse people together to solve complex conservation problems in a collaborative manner. She is passionate about local conservation and supports the work of 98 local RCDs in the State as they make a difference in their communities.



Photo_Rene de Guzman

René de Guzman

René de Guzman is the Senior Curator of Art at the Oakland Museum of California. De Guzman’s upcoming projects include an experience-based exhibition Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records opening April 19, 2014, and an as-yet untitled exhibition in the spring of 2015 exploring California’s relationship to the Pacific. De Guzman directed The Oakland Standard, an artistic innovation initiative that looks at new ways to engage audiences through creative practices. He joined the Museum in 2007 to complete renovation and reinstallation of the Gallery of California Art. Previously, de Guzman helped start Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a multidisciplinary contemporary art center in San Francisco. During his 15-year tenure at YBCA, de Guzman provided early support for some of the Bay Area’s leading artists. He is also currently Adjunct Professor in the graduate Curatorial Studies Program at the California College of the Arts. (photo credit: Terry Lorant) @oaklandmuseumca

Photo_Sarah Koch

Sarah Koch

A 17-year-old senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, Sarah loves spending time outdoors, especially biking and backpacking. She is passionate about social justice, education, and getting more kids outside. For the past two years, Sarah has participated on the SF Composite Mountain Bike Team and rides frequently in Golden Gate Park, Sutro Forrest, and the Marin Headlands. She looks forward to continuing to ride both on and off-road while in college and beyond.


Photo_Gretchen LeBuhn

Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn

Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn is a professor of Biology at San Francisco State University and the Director of the Great Sunflower Project, a citizen science project tracking pollinator service in back yards, gardens, and parks around the world. She studies plant and pollinator systems from the mountains of Ecuador to urban San Francisco. Since starting work in the field of citizen science, she has begun to explore the dynamics of online communities as well as the effectiveness of citizen science for learning. She is the author of “A Field Guide to the Common Bees of California” and a co-author of “Attracting Native Pollinators.”


Photo_Rue Mapp

Rue Mapp

Rue Mapp is the founder of Outdoor Afro. She has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was inspired by her study of the artistic representation of the American forests. She is also a successful entrepreneur whose game and hobby store start-up (It’s Your Move) remains an important part of the Oakland community. In 2010, Rue was honored to be invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference where President Obama signed an historic memorandum to help reconnect all Americans to the Great Outdoors, and was invited back to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. She was also appointed program officer at the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment where she served for two years to manage its grantmaking program. Recently, Rue was named a Hero in Backpacker Magazine, honored as part of the Root 100 of the top black achievers and influencers for 2012, received the Josephine and Frank Dunaneck award for her humanitarian efforts, featured in Sunset Magazine’s 2014 Camping issue, and received the National Wildlife Federation award for communications. @outdoorafro


Photo_Doniga Markegard

Doniga Markegard

Along with her husband and four children, Doniga owns and operates Markegard Family Grass-Fed, raising grass-fed beef, lamb, pastured pork and dairy supplying the community with local, nutrient dense foods. The family ranch leases land through out the Bay Area spanning over 6,000 acres. Doniga’s deep observation experience aids in her ability to monitor grassland health and biodiversity and to manage the land based on the principles and patterns found in nature. Doniga is passionate about finding ways to regenerate lands and community through ranching practices that build soil, sequester carbon, capture and purify water and enhance habitat. Doniga is also involved in groups within her foodshed including the San Mateo County Food System Alliance and the County Agricultural Advisory Committee. Doniga has consulted on many projects including a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston called “A Birds World” and at San Francisco’s Exploratorium on an interactive listening exhibit where Doniga leads viewers through how she, as a wildlife tracker and land management consultant, uses her listening skills to aid in her work.


Doug McConnell

Doug McConnell

Doug McConnell is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of ConvergenceMedia Productions (CMP) in Sausalito, California, which produces OpenRoad with Doug McConnell: Exploring the West for Public Television nationally. From 1993-2009 Doug was the Host and Senior Editor of the legendary Bay Area Backroads series on KRON Television in San Francisco. Backroads was one of the longest-running and most successful regional television series in American broadcast history. During his Backroads years, Doug co-authored two best-selling travel publications for Chronicle Books. Doug’s received many regional Emmys and other broadcast awards during his long career in television. He’s also been recognized for his extensive public service and been named Honorary National Park Ranger, Honorary State Park Ranger, Volunteer of the Year by the San Francisco Bay Trail and Humanitarian of the Year by the Marin Humane Society. In addition, he’s been given the prestigious Harold Gilliam Award for environmental reporting and storytelling in Northern California.


Photo_Austin McIrnerny

Austin McInerny

As Executive Director of National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), Austin McInerny draws on the experiences gained from his five years as head coach of a large Bay Area high school team, extensive involvement in various trail advocacy efforts and over 15 years of natural resource management and mediation to serve NICA’s approximately participating 3,000 high school student-athletes. Austin contributed to the creation of the teaching materials used by NICA to launch new state youth cycling leagues and played an integral role in creating the organization’s Coaches License Program, which currently has over 1,300 members across eleven states. With a background in environmental mediation, including co-facilitating the South San Francisco Bay Salt Pond Restoration effort, and a master’s degree in regional planning from Cornell University, Austin is committed to helping inspire and teach adolescents about responsible use and care of public open space and providing opportunities for youth to build strong bodies, mind and character thru participation on school based mountain bike teams.  @nationalmtb

Photo_Max Slavkin

Max Slavkin 

Max Slavkin is Co-Founder & CEO of Creative Action Network, a new media company harnessing creativity to power movements. Max has a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California. As a cultural organizer and strategist, Max has worked with organizations like The Mayo Clinic, Nike Foundation, Rhode Island School Of Design, Organizing For Action, and Upworthy, connecting artists and causes. He’s a proud alumnus of the Coro Fellows Program In Public Affairs, and is doing his best to be the change. @thecreativeact


Photo_Kay Wang

Kay Wang

Kay Wang is the Marketing Director of New American Media.  She has more than 10 years of experience in project management, marketing, event production, media communications in the high-tech, entertainment and cross-cultural media industries.  She managed and supervised NAM’s social marketing campaigns, such as, an unprecedented $2 million statewide public education effort on same sex marriage, funded by Hass Jr. Fund, which won the Gold Award from The Council on Foundations in public policy communications; The California Endowment’s statewide educational campaign on Affordable Care Act since 2010; American Institute for Research’s national outreach and research campaign on H1N1 Influenza; Leadership Conference of Civil Right’s national ethnic media outreach campaign on Digital TV conversion; as well as several national ethnic media convening campaigns for Center for Disease Control and Census 2010.  @newamericamedia


There are lots of ways of getting information, ideas and inspiration at the Open Space Conference. One of these ways is to talk shop with the Exhibitors.

Photo_2013 Conference exhibitor


The Exhibitors at the 2014 Open Space Conference were:


Guest appearances throughout the day by:


Photo by Jen Hale from the 2013 Open Space Conference.

From the blog