Park Bench Chat

The world has changed unimaginably over the past two years. But through the tumult of these challenging and uncertain times, two forces will see us through: nature and community. We’ve collected our Park Bench Chats on these topics for you to watch below and hope you’ll join us for future events and be a part of these insightful and timely conversations. 

2022 ParkScore®️ Index Release: How Cities Are Meeting the Climate Crisis through Parks

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. 

Panelists: 

Brendan Shane

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

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 Buckner

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. 

Sara Meerow

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. 

Park Bench Chat #14

Park Bench Chat: All in for Outdoors

Our most recent virtual Park Bench Chat, “All in for Outdoors,” was a celebration of the benefits and joys we can all gain from spending time in nature—and we mean all.  Thank you for joining us this Earth Day, Friday, April 22, at noon (PDT) / 3:00 p.m. (EDT) for what was a lively and entertaining conversation about good times in nature and what inclusiveness in outdoor spaces really means.  

Our impressive panelists discussed how they turn their love of the outdoors into passionate endeavors and—in doing so—are breaking down long-standing barriers and inspiring new audiences to embrace and connect with parks, trails, and green spaces close to home and beyond. 

Panelists: 

Nick OffermanPhoto credit: Taylor Miller

Nick Offerman is an actor, author, and woodworker, best known as the characters Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks & Recreation; Forest in Devs, the FX limited series from writer-director Alex Garland; Karl Weathers in the FX series Fargo; and cohost and executive producer of NBC’s Making It. Offerman has written five New York Times best-selling books, including his latest, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside (Penguin Random House, 2021), and publishes the Substack newsletter Donkey Thoughts. In his spare time, he can be found at his woodshop in Los Angeles building handcrafted items from wood, ranging from spoons and canoes to ukuleles.

Tykee James

Tykee James is a passionate birder who aims to make the outdoors more inclusive at every chance. A co-organizer of the first #BlackBirdersWeek, he is also cofounder of Amplify the Future and hosts the podcasts On Word for Wildlife and Brothers in Birding. His day job involves birding too (naturally!): he works to build and empower bird-friendly communities as president of the D.C. Audubon Society.

Danielle Williams

Danielle Williams, founder of Melanin Base Camp and Diversify Outdoors, is a skydiver, hiker, and disabled military veteran. Melanin Base Camp is a popular diversity blog that amplifies the presence of Black, Indigenous and people of color in outdoor spaces. Diversify Outdoors is a coalition dedicated to promoting diversity in outdoor spaces compromised of digital entrepreneurs, affinity groups and allies, and a vibrant online community that shares the goal of promoting diversity in outdoor spaces. The hashtag #DiversifyOutdoors has been used over 124,000 times across digital media.

More details about our conversation  

Check out the recording to learn about their journeys pursuing a mix of outdoor passions, from canoeing and birding to skydiving, biking, and just being in nature (forest bathing, anyone?). Hear lessons from the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and get motivated by tales of how their passions inspired them to start movements of their own. 

Ronda Chapman

This conversation was moderated by Trust for Public Land Equity Director Ronda Lee Chapman, who describes herself as a “radical love enthusiast, Mother Earth daughter, strategy integrationist, and former ski bum.” You can tell this one’s gonna be fun! 

Park Bench Chat #13

Park Bench Chat: Preserving the lands and spaces that hold our history 

Thank you for joining us on Wednesday, February 16, at noon (PST) / 3:00 p.m. (EST) for our Park Bench Chat exploring how protecting and interpreting lands and spaces can help us honor and illuminate Black American history and culture.

Panelists: 

Clayborne Carson

Clayborne Carson, PhD
Martin Luther King Jr. Centennial Professor Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University

 

Angela Bates

Angela Bates
Executive Director of the Nicodemus Historical Society

 

Naomi Davis

Naomi Davis
Founder and CEO of Blacks in Green

 

This event was sponsored by Sony Pictures Entertainment through Sony Pictures Action, our important partners in helping to accelerate the protection of Black historical sites nationwide.

Sony Pictures

More details about our conversation  

Consider this: sites that recognize the experience of Black Americans represent just two percent of those listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Trust for Public Land recognizes this disparity and has for decades worked with communities to preserve such valuable places.  

This discussion was moderated by Trust for Public Land Senior Vice President Malcolm Carson and explored spaces The Trust for Public Land, alongside important partners, is helping to preserve. Such sites include Meadowood, a Connecticut farm where a young Martin Luther King Jr. spent summers working to help pay his tuition at Morehouse College; Nicodemus National Historic Site in Kansas, the oldest remaining historic Black settlement west of the Mississippi River; and, Emmett Till’s childhood home in Chicago, which will soon be the focal point of a sustainable "walkable village” with shared greenspaces that pay homage to Chicago luminaries from the Great Migration.  

These often-overlooked historical and cultural sites hold unrealized potential to enrich all of our communities and provide Americans with a deeper understanding of the full story of America’s history. 

More Park Bench Chats

 
 
Park Bench Chat #10
Park Bench Chat #10
Harnessing the power of design for healthier, resilient and just cities Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET
Park Bench Chat #11
Park Bench Chat #11
ParkScore index unveiling: A new look at park equity across America Thursday, May 27 at 8:30 a.m. PT/11:30 a.m. ET
Park Bench Chat
Park Bench Chat #12
Community Schoolyards™ projects: A common-sense solution for students and America’s Park equity problem
Park Bench Chat #7
Park Bench Chat #7
Solutions for wildfire, climate change, and voting “green” this election Monday, October 26, 2020 – 12:30 P.M. PT / 3:30 P.M. ET
Park Bench Chat #8
Park Bench Chat #8
Parks Unite Us: Creating social change through parks and community Tuesday, December 8, 2020 – 11:00 a.m. PT/ 12:00 p.m. MT/2:00 p.m. ET
Park Bench Chat #9
Park Bench Chat #9
Preserving Black history for a more equitable future Tuesday, February 23, 1:00 p.m. PST/4:00 p.m. EST
Park Bench Chat #4
Park Bench Chat #4
Rising to the challenge - supporting communities through crisis Monday, June 29, 2020 – 4:00 p.m. ET
Park Bench Chat #5
Park Bench Chat #5
Reimagining community resilience Monday, July 13, 2020 – 2:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET
Park Bench Chat #6
Park Bench Chat #6
Outside for all - Investing in parks to build community power Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – 1:00 P.M. PT / 4:00 p.m. ET
Park Bench Chat #1
Park Bench Chat #1
Nature and community in the time of COVID-19 Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Park Bench Chat #2
Park Bench Chat #2
Staying safe outdoors during COVID-19 Tuesday, April 22, 2020
Park Bench Chat #3
Park Bench Chat #3
The Great American Outdoors Act: Vital to recovery and our future Thursday, May 14, 2020