As we hiked up the switchbacks, an hour in and a quarter of the way through, I asked myself “Why do people do this?” The brush scratched against my ankles as we walk through a narrow path making me wish I had worn long pants. With every step, the puffs of dust went up, making my nose itch. But as we made our way to the top, the view of the valley and the feeling of accomplishment reminded me why.
Although I’ve spent most of my life in San Diego, growing up I didn’t really explore all that America’s Finest City had to offer besides the occasional beach trip. This summer, I’ve been lucky to explore all that the Bay Area has to offer, from the distinct character of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, the liveliness of the streets as business people, tourists, and locals brush past each other, to immersing myself in the abundance of California’s natural landscape from the sea to the forests.
During my summer interning with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and being in the Bay Area, I’ve grown to understand the importance of their work in park creation and land conservation. San Francisco’s abundance of open spaces continues to amaze me. They offer a common space where all types of people can gather. They’re sanctuaries away from the streets and buildings. They’re safe recreation spaces for kids get outdoors. Like the TPL slogan says, “Everyone deserves a park”.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to work on writing various grants for different types of projects throughout California from those that are working towards conserving agricultural lands to those that are repurposing private land to turn it into a public recreational park that is accessible to all. I’ve come to learn that with grant writing, it’s a lot of behind the scenes work. Some days after having stared at a Google Earth map all day, I felt a bit removed because I was researching and writing about a place I’d never been before. It’s kind of like the long trek up the mountain when I ask myself why I’m doing this. When I get to the top, I remember why it’s all worth it. On my weekend trips exploring places like Point Reyes, Tahoe, or even the local parks and playgrounds I’d pass by exploring the city, I am reminded that these are the kinds of amazing places that the work at TPL helps to create and preserve, both rural and urban. And that the grant work that the Government Affairs team does is so critical to making these projects possible.
As I wrap up my internship this summer, I will take away with me not only the skills that I’ve learned, but also my appreciation for all the hard work that we don’t see that goes into making these outdoor spaces possible. Also reflecting on my time spent in SF this summer, I’m feeling really grateful for all of the cool people that I’ve been able to connect with, from everyone in the TPL office to Stanford alumni to other young folks like me working in the environmental field.
Read more at the Out West Student Blog »