Park Bench Chat
Park Bench Chat – 2022 ParkScore® Index Release: How Cities Are Meeting the Climate Crisis through Parks

Park Bench Chat

Thank you for joining Trust for Public Land President and CEO Diane Regas on May 4, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. (PDT)/ noon (EDT) along with park, data, and climate experts for the 2022 release of our annual ParkScore index. We unveiled this year’s top rankings and took an in-depth look at ways parks are being powerfully leveraged to meet the climate crisis in cities nationwide.

As the planet warms and inaction on climate leads to worsening risks and impacts, American cities are taking matters into their own hands. Cities are not only pledging to slash carbon emissions in the coming decades, they are also figuring out how to be more resilient. As part of our 2022 ParkScore® index, we asked parks departments in the 100 most populous U.S. cities what they’re doing around climate. Bottom line: many are doing a great deal. But cities are not taking action in a vacuum.

Regas was joined by Tara Buckner, urban planner for the City of Atlanta’s Parks and Recreation Department and project manager for Activate ATL: Recreation and Parks for All Comprehensive Master Plan, and Dr. Sara Meerow, assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University and head of its Planning for Urban Resilience Lab. Trust for Public Land Strategy and Innovation Director Linda Hwang and Climate Director Brendan Shane brought expertise and insight to the discussion from the perspective of TPL’s climate and equity goals.

Our panel shared the many ways neighborhood associations, climate-justice groups, arts organizations, and environmental activists are working alongside municipalities to aggressively implement climate resilience measures nationwide, as well as advice for communities looking to adopt these models in their own regions. From seemingly simple remedies such as planting trees to sophisticated mapping and data analysis to designing parks with natural basins that capture stormwater, discover—and find hope in—the power of green infrastructure to combat climate change.


Brendan Shane, climate director

Brendan Shane is the Climate Director at Trust for Public Land, leading efforts to leverage the power of nature through park creation and land protection to meet the climate crisis and build resilient communities. He previously served as Regional Director for North America for C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Chief of Policy and Sustainability for the District of Columbia Government, and Environmental Director for the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation. Brendan is a watershed hydrologist and attorney, with a BA in government from Franklin & Marshall College, MS in geology from the University of Maryland, and JD from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Linda Hwang, director, strategy and innovation

As Director of Strategy and Innovation, Linda is responsible for developing long-term strategy and direction for the research and innovation team, providing high-level leadership, and anticipating, sensing, and monitoring trends in the broader parks, conservation, equity, and technology spaces. She works in partnership with our 25+ field offices, content experts, and policy and advocacy teams to develop growth initiatives that enable increased impact and leads the exploration and implementation of new parks and conservation data opportunities. Prior to this, Linda was a partner at a start-up that developed customized decision-support tools that quantify ecosystem services for clients such as The Nature Conservancy, The Dow Chemical Company, and Environmental Defense Fund. Linda has a BA in Environmental Economics from the University of Michigan, an MPhil in Development Studies and Social Transformation from the University of Cape Town, and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Tara L. Buckner, M.P.A., AICP

Tara L. Buckner is the urban planner for the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation.  She is the project manager for the Activate ATL: Recreation and Parks for All Comprehensive Master Plan. Her experience in urban planning, economic development and management spans work in Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Atlanta.  Past accomplishments include serving as executive director of the St. Louis Empowerment Zone, chair of the St. Louis Sewer District Civil Service Commission, and president of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC).

Tara is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) of the American Planning Association (APA), the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA), NAASC, the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Tara has a Master of Public Administration from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Spelman College.

Dr. Sara Meerow

Dr. Sara Meerow is an assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University where she leads the Planning for Urban Resilience Lab. She is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of urban geography and planning to tackle the challenge of making cities more resilient in the face of climate change and other social and environmental hazards, while at the same time more sustainable and just. Her current projects focus on conceptualizations of urban resilience, planning for urban resilience in a changing climate, and green infrastructure planning in a range of cities in the U.S. and internationally. She has published over 30 articles in academic journals, in addition to several book chapters, reports, and popular press articles on these topics. She has a PhD in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan and an MS in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam.