The Open Space Council Blog


Live-blogging from the 2015 Rainy Season Gathering

January 22, 2015


Thanks to everyone who attended the Rainy Season Gathering despite the lack of rain! Everyone in the room seemed to be engaged in the topics, and there was a lot of great participation in our Q&A session.  We heard from our amazing speakers about before and after ballot measures, and the effects they had on diverse demographic engagement. Some main takeaways from the event were:

Find more photos from the event below and on Flickr.

Our next Gathering is March 19th, and more details will be released in early February.  This year’s Open Space Conference will be held May 14th at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

Thanks again to our amazing panel of speakers:

Smiles and conversationLunch on the patio

Fun times



What a great spread of speakers and it was amazing to hear such an engaging Q&A session. Keep checking back here over the next day for more updates, photos, links and a Post Script further wrapping up all the great information that was shared.


And we’re wrapping it up! We’ve got Annie Burke on stage thanking our wonderful speakers. Thank you again to Phil Ginsburg, Sergio Jimenez, Yoriko Kishimoto, Marc Landgraf, H.G. Nguyen, and Rosemary Cameron!

Annie is also discussing some really exciting projects we have going on here at the Open Space Council.  Continue to watch us here on our Blog, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and join our email list to keep in touch!



Q- Willingness to pay or threshold to pay and other research that was conducted in preparation for these measures.
A- Marc: There was a lot of research done. There’s research but there’s also a lot of education needed. We thought, if we’re going to go for it, we’re going to really go for it, even if some of the research showed a preference for a lower dollar amount.

Q- Around Measure Q, what activities and strategies do you credit most for the bump in Latino and Asian increase in voters.
A- Sergio: Outreach to ethinc media did a lot like the multi-lingual fliers. Well known Latina leaders in the community helped as well.
Marc: Building our network of community leaders was key. Mailers, videos, and calls in multiple languages were particularly helpful. Getting likely voters to the polls was very important, and this had to be done in multiple languages. The New American Media support was key in this multi-lingual approach.
H.G.: Was contacted to put her name and picture on the flyer as a community leader, and also record her voice for robo-calls. This leads to great word of mouth and the importance of hearing messages from people you know and/or respect. Who the messenger is really matters.
Phil: So much of this is informed by the research done ahead of time. Who are your community champions? We don’t want to make it about us, or about the General Manager. It’s about the people. Serving the people.

Q- Most of open space funding will go to places outside of people’s immediate area. So many supporters were from flatlands where these open space were not within their walking distance.
A- Yoriko: People may not use the spaces, but they appreciate the room to breath and that it is there if they want to use it and they want their children to use it. Often people are afraid of going out there if they have never been.
H.G.: I don’t like to walk in the same areas, so I tell my people to use these open spaces.

Q-What do you do to turn no votes toward yes?
A- We were lucky not to have a lot of opposition. Showing the benefits to the business community was important, showing how these spaces help attract a vibrant workforce. Once people open their eyes these things do matter to local business. We were able to eventually get support from Chambers of Commerce, even the conservative Silicon Valley Chamber.


Thanks again to Sergio for his wonderful talk. He closed with a great sentiment:

“Think deeply about your organization and its future.
People will jump at the chance to be involved.”

We’re now moving on to Q&A.

Taking notes



Sergio Jimenez: “Let’s take some of these meetings from City Hall on the road to these communities who might not otherwise attend.”


Sergio Jimenez: “There will be an increase of college educated Latinos. Will they be carrying open space values? Will they have been engaged early? They will be the future leadership of some of these communities.”


Sergio Jimenez: “The concrete patio was my idea of open space as a child. That is still very much the reality for many families. We need to make folks aware that there are other places out there.”


Sergio Jimenez: “It’s all about the long term and how to be inclusive and make a lasting relationship with these communities who typically feel a little left out of the mainstream.”

Sergio Jimenez


Great applause for H.G. Nguyen, and now we’re welcoming Sergio Jimenez to the stage. He’s the Chair of the San Jose Parks & Recreation Commission, and will talk about his involvement in Measure Q and role of community groups post-election.


H.G. Nguyen: “When you talk about good health, my community cares about that. You need open space for good health.”


What a great anecdote from H.G. Nguyen, followed by huge applause:

“Every day after we dropped the children off at school my husband and I would walk in the park for 30 minutes before going back to work. It was wonderful, the fresh air and ability to forget the stresses of the day before is what makes our marriage last.”

H.G. Nguyen


Thanks to Rosemary Cameron for yet another great hand off. We’ve got H.G. Nguyen, the founder of the Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara Valley, up now who will talk about her involvement in Measure Q and role of community groups post-election .


Great to hear about yet another great partnership with New American Media (@American_Media_), a nonprofit helping with outreach to diverse demographics.

Outreach happened in multiple languages: Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and English!


Marc Landgraf: “We looked into the demographics of the Santa Clara County urban population. San Jose is the 3rd largest city in California, 10th in the country. Roughly a third Asian, third Hispanic, third Caucasian.”


Marc Landgraf: “A year before the campaign we launched it’s (Measure Q’s) strategic vision.”

Marc Landgraf


We’re now welcoming Marc Landgraf, the External Affairs Manager from Santa Clara County Open Space Authority who will talk about engagement before and after Measure Q in the South Bay.

Here’s his presentation:

Marc Landgraf – Ballot measures, conservation and changing demographics from OpenSpaceCouncil



After the measure was passed by the voters, MROSD took a few additional steps:

-They took strides to connect with younger groups who aren’t currently voters, taking the long term view.
-They also partnered with Latino Outdoors (@LatinoOutdoors) to help get children outdoors, specifically children who for many of them, it is really their first time stepping outdoors into their community open spaces.


Yoriko Kishioto: “Success was due to a strong bottom up process to develop a plan and some unconventional ethnic outreach as well.”


Yoriko Kishimoto: “Our experience is that there was a big difference on the demographics on the ground and who came out to vote.”

Yoriko Kishimoto


Rosemary Cameron is now back up introducing Yoriko Kishimoto, and elected board member of Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (@mrosd).

Here is her presentation:

Yoriko Kishimoto – Ballot measures, conservation and changing demographics from OpenSpaceCouncil



Phil Ginsburg: “Ribbon cuttings are more than ribbon cuttings. They are an opportunity to connect with the community.”

We’re now taking two minutes to watch this great video:



A big takeaway from Phil’s presentation was that, “It has helped us significantly to get more people involved in our work.” He also mentions that: “In the parks business, you can’t ever do enough outreach. And no matter how much outreach you do, someone will always say you didn’t do enough.” Don’t let it discourage you.


Phil Ginsburg: “SF Parks Alliance (@sfparksalliance) and Trust for Publc Land (@tpl_org) have been critical partners of our work. ”


Phil Ginsburg: “Glen Canyon is the first project we’ll be working on. With support from Trust for Public Land, Coastal Conservancy, and Prop 84.”


The 2012 Bond included funding for 15 neighborhood parks. If you haven’t been, McLaren Park is one of the city’s hidden gems.


Phil sits on the capital planning committee in San Francisco. Parks & Rec is therefore at the table and knows when there will be ballot measures.

Phil Ginsburg


Rosemary is now introducing our first speaker, Phil Ginsburg, the General Manager of San Francisco Parks & Recreation Department he’ll be talking about Proposition B from 2012.

Here’s Phil’s presentation:

Phil Ginsburg – Ballot measures, conservation and changing demographics from OpenSpaceCouncil



Rosemary Cameron: “The three measures we’re talking about today bring more than half a billion dollars for conservation in the Bay Area.”


Rosemary’s mantra is sustainability. “How can we set things up for the long term? The campaign shouldn’t be a one-off, or ad-hoc. It should drive what we do on an ongoing basis.”

Rosemary Cameron


What a great lead in from Jenn, and she’s now introduced Rosemary Cameron, our moderator for the day. See more information about Rosemary and the rest of our speakers below.


Jenn Fox: “Author William Faulkner tartly described California as the state where ‘the sun shines and nothing happens.’ It’s true that the sun has been shining and we need the rain. But I don’t agree that nothing happens.”


We’re hearing from Jenn Fox to get things started with an introduction to the Open Space Council and the topic of today’s Gathering.  These topics are only going to become more relevant throughout the rest of this year and especially into 2016. There are so many exciting things going on throughout the Bay Area’s conservations scene.


Wow, folks got seated quickly this morning, they must be excited to see this great panel of speakers!


Don’t forget, as we get rolling this morning, you can follow along here and on Instagram @bayareaopenspace or Twitter @BA_OpenSpace and across all platforms with #OSC122


The room is buzzing this morning despite the lack of precipitation outside, we’re thinking the welcoming cups of coffee might have something to do with it!



We are in the Tamalpais Room of the David Brower Center for our 2015 Rainy Season Gathering. Unfortunately we don’t have any rain to show, but we’ll do a little dance and hope that it comes our way soon.

Today’s Gathering is all about the catalyst that ballot measures can be for changing who a public agency (and the network of nonprofits around them) engages with in the broader community.

In 2014 we saw several conservation wins at Bay Area ballot boxes. The successes are due in large part to extensive outreach to new groups, communities and demographics. As we all know, the population of the Bay Area is changing and so are the voters. This has implications for a ballot measure campaign, and it also impacts an agency or organization after the measure passes. If we connect the dots between ballot measures around the Bay Area and the public agencies and nonprofits involved in them, we see a changing picture of land conservation in the region.

Specifically we will discuss: Who voted for conservation in 2014? What do the changing demographics mean before and after a ballot measure? What new partnerships are being formed? And what do those partnerships mean for future conservation efforts?

Our panel conversation will be:

We’re including their bios below. A seriously impressive group!

This is Annie Burke and Trevor Rice and we’ll be blogging, photographing, tweeting and otherwise documenting what happens this morning. You can also follow the thread on Twitter with #OSC122


Speakers’ bios:

Rosemary Cameron
Rosemary Cameron, has spent her career working in the public sector with management experience in regional and municipal parks and recreation, city management, and legislative affairs. For 20 years she served as East Bay Regional Park District’s Assistant General Manager, Public Affairs leading intergovernmental, community and corporate relations and integrated marketing communications programs for the largest local park agency in the United States. In addition, she served as Executive Director of the Regional Parks Foundation, a separate nonprofit organization that raises funds from individuals, foundations, and corporations in support of Regional Park District programs. Her responsibilities included management of the media, graphics, signage, publications, community outreach, and local government relations activities. Rosemary has significant experience working to establish special assessment districts, parcel taxes, and bond acts as funding mechanisms for regional parks. Rosemary holds a Bachelors’ degree in Economics and Government from Mills College, and a Masters’ degree in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. Her volunteer involvement includes serving on the boards of Save the Redwoods League, San Francisco Parks Alliance, California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks and Tourism and, California Parks and Recreation Society’s PAC.

Phil Ginsburg
Phil Ginsburg is the general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. With more than 4,100 acres and over 220 parks under its jurisdiction, the Recreation and Park Department stewards some of the most spectacular public spaces in the world, including Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower and the Palace of Fine Arts. During his tenure, Ginsburg has made increasing access to public recreation the department’s primary objective, ensuring that the city’s children and families have the opportunity to not only survive in the city, but thrive. Understanding the realities of 21st Century government, Phil has also helped San Francisco’s park system avoid catastrophic cuts, closures and service reductions through the strategic use of public-private partnerships, creative revenue strategies, technology and administrative efficiencies.

Yoriko Kishimoto
Yoriko Kishimoto has served on the Midpenisula Regional Open Space District since 2010 and is now Vice President of the Board.   She is former Mayor of Palo Alto and the first Asian elected to the Palo Alto City Council.  Yoriko’s call to action as as Mayor and on her two terms as council woman has been to “Build a Green Economy through Innovation”. Yoriko was born in Japan, earned her Stanford MBA and worked for 20 years consulting to technology entrepreneurs from both sides of the Pacific.  She is an internationally published author of The Third Century: Asia’s Resurgence in the Asian Era, a book that foretold the rise of California as a “world-nation” where we are all minorities and spoke of America as deriving its strengths from its open economic and social systems and the robustness of our democracy. Yoriko served on the Board of Directors for Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) that oversees clean air regulations for the nine counties.  She was Chair of the Climate Protection Committee of BAAQMD.

Marc Landgraf
Marc serves as the External Affairs Manager at the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and in that role, leads their Community Engagement Team. He has worked in the land conservation field for over 14 years, including three years at the Trust for Public Land and seven years at Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). As Director of External Affairs at POST, Marc built a broad range of traditional and nontraditional partnerships and also played a strong leadership role in the passing of Measure AA and Measure Q. Prior to working in conservation, Marc was a design engineering manager at Intel Corporation. Marc loves spending time with his family outdoors – hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. He is also an opera fan.

H.G. Nguyen
H.G. Nguyen founded the Vietnamese-American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara Valley in 1994.  She has been the Executive Director and News Anchor of the Vietnamese radio program called “San Jose Co Gi La” (What’s Happening in San Jose) since 1991.  H.G. also dedicates a significant amount of her free time to spreading the teachings of Buddhist Dharma, which promotes happiness and harmony. She was chosen by H.E. Choden Rinpoche (who is known worldwide as the Teacher of the Great Teachers) to serve as Executive Director of the Ananda Dharma Center located in San Jose.

Sergio Jimenez
Sergio Jimenez is a 30 year resident of San Jose and currently resides in District 2.  He is an immigrant to this country and moved to San Jose from Mexico at three years old.  He was raised in East San Jose by his single mother.  He was the first in his family to attend college and currently serves his community in different capacities.  He is the Chair of the City of San Jose Parks Commission and is the President and founder of Oak Grove Neighborhood Association.  He continues to serve the East San Jose community by sitting on the non-profit board of Somos Mayfair, an organization that seeks to empower the Latino community.  He is a member of the American Heart Association (Silicon Valley Chapter) Multicultural Leadership Committee.  He currently works at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office and is married with three children.