Out West student blog

Projects with Parks for People

Caroline, members of the design team from GGN, and Charlene from SF Recreation & Parks setting up for an outreach event at India Basin Shoreline Park. (photo credit, Alejandra Chiesa).

By Caroline Beckman'21

Hometown: Los Angeles, California & Washington D.C.
Parks for People Intern, Trust for Public Lands

Why did you want to do this internship?

First and foremost, I wanted to do this internship because I love the Trust for Public Land’s mission. I’m working with the Parks for People Bay Area team, whose goal is to make sure that all people have access to outdoor green space within a 10 minute walk of their home. In my own life, I can track the importance of being outdoors in shaping who I am (as cheesy as that sounds); more academically, tons of research has been done as to the health (mental & physical) benefits that greenspace provides and how being in nature encourages environmental stewardship. I was also drawn to the internship because I wanted to learn about what working at a nonprofit looks and feels like – this internship can be a 10-week “trial-run” for this kind of career!

How does your role support the host organization's mission?

The Parks for People team is working to create equitable urban greenspace throughout the Bay Area. My job this summer is to support the four other members of the team by assisting on various projects – just three weeks in, I’ve already worked on projects in Oakland, San Francisco, and Richmond. The great thing about working on multiple projects at once is I see all stages of the park-building process: initial kick-off, design, community engagement, construction, park-opening, activation, and developing park stewardship plans! I’m also working on developing a quarterly newsletter for the Parks team, which will allow me to learn about even more projects that are in progress or recently completed.

How would you describe one of the projects you will be working on this summer?

In a joint project with the San Francisco Recreation & Parks department and San Francisco Parks Alliance, the Trust for Public Land is redesigning and expanding an existing park (India Basin Shoreline Park) along the shoreline of the Bayview, a neighborhood in southeast San Francisco. The city owns the land next-door to the existing park; this site contains a historic shipyard that has fallen into disrepair. This project is currently in the design phase; on the very first day of my internship, I went to the meeting in which the design firm presented their proposal to the partners. Throughout the summer, I will have the chance to participate in core partner meetings and see what it’s like for the Trust for Public Land and government agencies to work together. I’ll also assist in community engagement – asking community members what they want their park to look and feel like.

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?

For me, this project raises a lot of interesting questions about equity and how place can be an important part of identity. How do we design a park for an area that is constantly changing (demographically)? How do people come to care for certain places, and, by extension, the natural world as a whole? Part of what drew me to Earth Systems as a major is wanting to preserve open space & greenspace for future generations. This project is certainly doing that; but it is already starting to push my understandings of the fundamental meaning of greenspace. Preserving land doesn’t have to mean keeping it exactly the same, or trying to achieve a pastoral, untouched, National Park-esque feel – creating a park that ties together history, nature, and culture might be especially valuable.

Has anything surprised you about the work, the organization, or the environment?

Working a 9-5 job is tiring! It’s very different than being at school, where the work is constant but you can organize on your own schedule. But I am enjoying having truly free weekends.

Spending my first weekend exploring the Marin Headlands with friends. (photo credit: Sunaya Patel)


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