Reflections on a Summer in Monterey
By Kimberly Gibson
B.A. Urban Studies, 2013
My summer internship at the Big Sur Land Trust was an all around success. I learned a lot about the inner workings of the land conservation movement. And I had time to reflect on the philosophy behind changes in the land trust model, which, particularly in Big Sur, is moving away from focusing on buying land and toward a "whole communities" approach. At the same time, I produced a portfolio of audio clips and transcriptions that can be used by the Big Sur Land Trust for internal and external communication about its vision and values. My compiled work, which I presented at a staff meeting, included 21 interviews, which can be broken into 53 separate stories which total 77,865 words. These were well received by the staff.
My work in the office motivated me to seek out on my own time more information on related topics including working landscapes, adult education, storytelling, and the social benefits (reduced crime rates, improved mental health, school performance, and stewardship ethic) of spending time in natural settings. In addition to reading several related books, I was able to make connections between my work at the Big Sur Land Trust and a presentation on environmental rhetoric, which I delivered at the 96th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Austin, Texas, during the first week of August. It was very fulfilling to work on such an engaging project.
My favorite part of the summer was being the audience to which the Big Sur Land Trust staff told their stories. I am pleased that the stories will be shared with many others through my transcripts and recordings, but being present in the moment of telling, to see their passionate facial expressions and excited hand gestures, was a one of a kind experience. Best of all was learning firsthand that there are 17 people devoting their careers to protecting and improving one of the most beautiful and special regions of the West.
This experience has left me feeling inspired about the possibilities in land conservation and excited to continue looking for ways to connect communities to their local landscapes. Many thanks to The Big Sur Land Trust and the Bill Lane Center for the American West for making this internship possible.
Read more at the Out West Blog for Summer Interns »