Reconnecting People with the Land
By Kimberly Gibson
B.A. Urban Studies, 2013
This summer, I have the privilege of working for the Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT) through the Bill Lane Center for the American West. I am interning with Rachel Saunders, the Director of Communications and Community Affairs. Housed in the historic De La Torre Adobe in downtown Monterey, California, the BSLT office is a very exciting place to be.
Beyond their mission to conserve the significant lands and waters of the central coast, BSLT is working toward a vision of 2030 that includes healthy ecosystems, stewardship of resources, environmental education, engaged youth, durable local economies and healthy communities. To accomplish these goals, the organization is transitioning from a traditional transactional land trust model, which focuses on real estate and strives to meet goals of dollars raised and acres saved, to a more progressive whole community model, which works to reconnect people with the land and meet the needs of all members of the community regardless of age, race, gender, nationality, occupation, and ability.
Through work with The Center for Whole Communities and other partner organizations, BSLT has identified storytelling as a key strategy for creating a more community oriented organization. Storytelling fosters dialogue and increases communication between groups that might otherwise be unconnected. By sharing stories individuals can express their past experiences with the land trust, future aspirations for their communities and deepest values in land conservation. My main project is interviewing all of the staff members to collect stories about their work projects and experiences with BSLT that exemplify the mission and vision of the organization. I have only just begun this process but already I have uncovered several stories of passionate land stewardship and community building initiatives. I am looking forward to continuing this project throughout the summer. The end goal is to have a portfolio of written stories, audio clips, and pictures that can be used for presentations to BSLT members, board of directors, and partner organizations. I also hope to have time to develop a stories display for the office so that visitors can learn more about the land trust. Capturing these stories will help the organization express its mission, vision, and values to the communities of Monterey County and the Big Sur Coast.
Read more at the Out West Blog for Summer Interns »