The Open Space Council Blog


Live-blogging from the Rainy Season Gathering

January 16, 2014


Wow! What a morning! The room was full and the energy was HIGH. It was very hard to get started at 10am because everyone was so engaged in conversation. The line to follow up with the speakers after the presentations was looonnngg. And it was a long time after the Gathering that the room cleared out. They might not be highly scientific metrics, but they are ways of measuring the success of our Gathering this morning. Today’s conversation about California State Parks and the partnerships needed for the future was a rich one!

All smiles

Putting Craig on the spot

this is who it's all about

See more pictures here.

We want to thank our speakers for their time, expertise and good work:

We also want to thank the Brower Center for being a great place to host events. Back to Earth provides us with good food. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in the dialogue before, during and after the program.

Our next Gathering will be on March 20, 2014 and it will be a Stewardship Palooza. Join us!


12:05pm: Lunch!

12:00pm: Jenn Fox, our Executive Director, thanked Ken for his work and for his presentation. She invited us all to follow up with people, get involved, and take action. What can we do individually and collectively for State Parks?

Then Jenn invited us to sing Happy Anniversary to the tune of Happy Birthday to the California State Parks. It’s a system that we love, that we work with and for, and that needs us to be successful. We brought a cake and candles, blown out by the California State Parks employees (current and future) in the room:

Check out the kid's face

11:48am: Ken has talked about what the Parks Forward Commission is doing, what they’re timeline is, and what he sees ahead at their upcoming meetings.

Ken Wiseman

11:46am: Robert has concluded, Caryl took some questions, and we are now listening to Ken Wiseman, Executive Director of Parks Forward. He is talking about the changing demographics of the state and our region. Here is Ken’s presentation:

11:20am: Robert Doyle: “Partnerships are like marriages. Some of them work, some of them don’t. They require respect and trust.”

11:18am: Robert Doyle: “Crown Beach in Alameda is the largest public beach on the Bay. We’re working with CA State Parks to restore the beach for people. And because of the work, snowy plovers have returned.”

Robert Doyle

11:16am: Robert Doyle: “The decline in funding for State Parks didn’t just start 2 years ago, but has been happening for years and years.”

11:14am: Caryl thanked Andy for his presentation and has introduced Robert Doyle, the General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District. He is providing some history of California State Parks, LA parks plan, and other work by Olmsted Sr and Olmsted Jr. Here is Robert’s presentation:

11:04:am: Andy Vought: “Crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

11:01am: Andy describes his work with the two parks. He acknowledges Sempervirens Fund, Save the Redwoods League, Peninsula Open Space Trust, California State Parks, and many others. All of the partners are working together on a host of projects. “Everyone’s role is changing. And they will continue to change.”

Andy Vought

10:56am: Caryl has introduced Andy Vought, the President of the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation. He’s going to talk about his experience working with State Parks to keep parks open. Here is Andy’s presentation:

10:52am: Danita: “We have an important mission that we need to keep front and center.”

10:47am: Danita: “What does it cost to run a park? We are working to figure that out now.”

Danita Rodriguez

10:40am: Check out what our Twitter friends are talking about: @JoseBilingue @christinesf @victoria_bogdan @envtlsahiti

10:35am: It was May 13, 2012 when we got the call that 70 parks would be closed. 13 of the parks that were slated to close were in the districts that Danita manages. Now she has a wide variety of agreements that she’s managing. Each agreement is different.

10:34am: Caryl has introduced Danita Rodriguez as “one of my favorite people.” Danita is providing an overview of the State Parks history. Here is Danita’s presentation:

10:27am: Caryl Hart: “Parks are the way to bring new people into the environmental movement.”

10:26am: I will post presentations to this blog post later this afternoon. I can say now, though, that the presentations are a series of beautiful images of parks. Presentations and pictures have been posted!

Caryl Hart

10:24am: Caryl Hart – General Manager of Sonoma County Parks – is welcoming everyone and setting the tone for the day. We have one of the greatest systems in the world. We’re not going to dwell on what went wrong, but rather what we can do going forward together. What is the next funding measure? How can we lift up State Parks and all parks?

10:10am: Ron Brown from Save Mount Diablo – and an Open Space Council Board member – is welcoming us to the day, hopeful that rain will come soon.

Rain rain, come our way

10:00am: Good morning! We’re here at the David Brower Center for A Birthday Party for California State Parks. It’s called our Rainy Season Gathering but that’s a total misnomer this year. It hasn’t rained in forever and it’s weird and scary and not good for the millions of people who live here and eat food from here. Maybe we’ll incorporate a rain dance into today’s proceedings.

The crowds!

Today we’re talking about California State Parks. The idea of protecting land for public use was acted upon 150 years ago when Yosemite was preserved and ceded to the state of California. Since then, the California State Park system has grown to 280 parks on 1.4 million acres and into the largest state park system in the country. The past few years have brought significant changes to the department, many of which have affected 61 state parks located in the 10 counties of the Bay Area, dozens of partners, and thousands of people in the Bay Area. At today’s Gathering we will discuss two aspects of California State Parks: the Parks Forward Initiative and private/public partnerships. Our speakers include:

We will hear about what is happening today, what the next year holds in store, and what the 160th anniversary might look like. And there will be cake! It is a birthday party after all.

In the registration form for today’s event, we asked everyone which is their favorite State Park. It’s a great list that makes me want to put down this computer and go explore (don’t tell my boss). Here’s what people said: 

What is your favorite?

This is Annie Burke and I will be blogging about the event for the next two hours. Refresh your browser often and pretend that you’re here. We will be tweeting at @BA_OpenSpace with #castateparks150 and we’ll share pictures on Instagram. Join us!