The Open Space Council Blog


Live-blogging at the Harvest Gathering

November 22, 2013


We went to the South Bay for a conversation about the importance of protected land for water, food, health, climate change and economy. Not a light topic! We covered a lot of ground and spurred a lot of ideas. Attendees called the Gathering “Informative and engaging” and commented “Wow, such dedicated and intelligent people all working for a common cause.” Organizations like the Santa Clara Farm Bureau, Greenbelt Alliance and Latino Outdoors were tweeting with #landinsanjose. Attendees vowed to take next steps like “Give more thought to arranging an event to get some of my peer orgs together to see how we can leverage our expertise into more regional collaborations” and “Plenty of ideas, I have tons of notes” and “Will share with other members of my organization.”

See what it looked like here:

We want to thank our speakers:

Back to Earth fed us well. The Sobrato Community Conference Center was conveniently located for many living and working in the South Bay. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in the dialogue before, during and after the program.

Our next Gathering will be January 16, 2014 at the Brower Center in Berkeley. We’ll be talking about the current and future states of California State Parks. Learn more about it and join us!


11:42am: We are wrapping up the Q&A. Mike is going to turn the mic over to Jenn Fox, the Executive Director of the Open Space Council. She is going to summarize what we’ve heard and make some announcements. Then we go to lunch! After lunch I will post the presentations I haven’t posted yet, and I will also add some pictures from today.

11:38am: Dave Hansen from Sonoma County asked a question about outdoor education. What are we doing to educate the next generation? Andrea referred us all to LandPaths. She also said that the Open Space Council will be creating a outreach initiative in 2014 (it’s true!). Bill talked about all the good things happening in the county.

Q&A time

11:34am: Alright, we’ve talked about the business community and how to work with them on conservation. We’ve talked about how the business community isn’t monolithic and so we need to be more specific. We’ve talked about private land owners and how we as a community can bring them into the conversation. Bill said that 2/3 of Santa Clara County is rural. We don’t usually think of that.

11:17am: Eli wrapped up. Mike is now kicking of the Q&A portion of our day. I’m going to try to share what happens in the next 20 minutes, but I never took a court transcription course and I’m not that fast of a typer. I’ll do my best though!

11:14am: “All of these things are connected. To talk about food is also to talk about water and land,” said Eli Zigas. “Food offers us a way to people’s hearts and stomachs so that we can create the policies that we want.”

11:10am: Eli referenced SAGE’s report on the Coyote Valley.

11:07am: Totally unrelated to the topic at hand (or is it?), there’s a VTA line right outside of the room and every 7 minutes a train quietly rolls by.

11:05am: Eli is going to talk about the value of food and its connection to land. Here is his presentation:

11:04am: Mike is introducing Eli Zigas from SPUR.

10:57am: “Land isn’t a nice-ity. It’s a necessity.” Bill Shoe quoting Olmsted. Now Bill is giving out a free copy of the Santa Clara County health element if anyone knows when Henry David Thoreau said “In wilderness is preservation of the world.” No winners.

10:51am: Bill Shoe from Santa Clara County planning is going to speak now about land health. Here is his presentation:

10:45am: There is a lot of interesting work happening in Pajaro Valley. The watershed crosses four counties. The Water District is partnering with a host of public agencies and nonprofits in the watershed. Carol has some great stories – we could have her on stage for a long time.


10:39am: There’s a theme forming here: we need to value our environmental resources. Ecosystem services is a hot topic and an important thing we need to talk about. Carol recommended that everyone check out

10:36am: Mike Mielke is introducing Carol Presley from Santa Clara Valley Water District. I will post Carol’s presentation later today. See her presentation below. “Like any industry, there are specialities. Within the Water District there are different silos and areas of focus. I’m going to talk today about water quality, not so much on water supply,” said Carol.

Food, Water, Climate, People and Land – Carol Presley, Santa Clara Valley Water District from OpenSpaceCouncil

10:35am: Good chatter happening at #landinsanjose. I’ll post pictures later today.

10:31am: “We are incorporating climate change into both the regional vision (Conservation Lands Network) and into public agency plans,” said Andrea Mackenzie.

Andrea Mackenzie takes charge

10:25am: Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager at the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, is now presenting. She’s here to talk about the connection between land and climate change. Here is her presentation:

10:19am: We’ve started! It’s a full – and very lonnngg – room. Paul Ringgold from Peninsula Open Space Trust – and the president of the Open Space Council’s Board – opened up the day. Mike Mielke is setting the context for today’s conversation and talking about the value of protected land. I will post his presentation later today. Here is his presentation:

Food, Water, Climate, People and Land – Mike Mielke, Silicon Valley Leadership Group from OpenSpaceCouncil

10:00am: Good morning! We’re here at the Sobrato Community Conference Center in San Jose for our Harvest Gathering entitled Food, Water, Climate, People and the Land that Ties it all Together.

Land provides us with healthy food and the Bay Area is world-famous for its locally grown and sustainably raised foods. Land provides us with clean drinking water and Bay Area watersheds offer both habitats and water for millions of people. Land provides us with trails, parks, and vistas that are enjoyed by Bay Area residents and they provide numerous health benefits. And to take care of the land that sustains us – with food, water, and recreation – we need to understand its important role and steward it in the new normal of climate change.

Today’s conversation is about the future of conserving land and its importance to sustaining our region’s water, health and food systems as our climate changes. We will discuss the nexus of land conservation and stewardship to maintaining healthy communities and economies in the Bay Region. Speakers include:

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. My colleagues will be tweeting at @BA_OpenSpace with #landinsanjose and we’ll share pictures on Instagram.

Ready? Let’s go!