The Rainy Season Gathering: Connecting People and Land

Written By OutdoorAfro

Published on Jan 20, 2012

I had such a thrill yesterday connecting with land loving friends in Berkeley, CA at the Bay Area Open Space Council’s Rainy Season Gathering to discuss how we might better connect people to land in a relevant way.
The following is re-posted from the Bay Area Open Space Council Blog – start from the bottom and work your way up! It’s the next best thing to being there!
It’s raining in the Bay Area!  The Rainy Season Gathering brought the rain to Berkeley.  It’s official.  (for those of you reading this from out of state and wondering why this is even being talked about, it hasn’t rained since mid-December.  it’s been bone dry.  we’re very excited that it’s raining!)
More importantly though, we had a very full room of 100+ people to talk about cultural relevancy today at the Brower Center in Berkeley.  One attendee said it was “my favorite Gathering yet.”  The panelists spoke from the heart – causing some in the audience to tear up at a few points – and spoke from experience in connecting people to land, and land to people.  The panelists were:

A BIG thanks to Avery, Sam, Jared, Rue and Paul for their time and for telling their stories.  Thank you to Back to Earth for catering a delicious lunch.  And thanks to everyone for taking the time in your busy lives to participate in this conversation.

The presentations from Paul Ringgold and Sam Hodder are available on our Events page.  Scroll down to Past Events to find the Rainy Season Gathering.
The next Gathering will be on March 15 at the Brower Center.  The topic will be social media and registration is now open.  Who’s coming?
12:04pm: Bettina is wrapping up with some themes:

  • So much is possible if we work together
  • We need to continue to listen to each other
  • We need to remember to connect with nature ourselves

12:02pm: For the record, it hasn’t started raining yet here in Berkeley.
11:57am: We have one more question and then lunch will be served.  I’m guessing that there will be a swarm of people who ignore lunch and instead surround the speakers.  There is a lot interest in this topic and these speakers have told some powerful stories.
11:54am:  There have been so many great questions!  And a rich conversation about so many aspects of connecting people and land: race, class, privilage, power, funding, scale, farming, how to get more kids out onto farms, transportation, ecosystem services, venture philanthropy, regional funding, urban spaces, rural spaces, feeling safe, … so much more.  I wish that I could type faster so I could capture it all.
11:27am: Avery is thanking Jared and opening it up to questions.
11:26am: Jared is wrapping up.  Applause!
11:17am:  We are watching this film about Pie Ranch:

11:16am: Jared described his upbringing and those transformative experiences he had in the natural world.  I can’t even try to capture what he said and is saying.  He’s way too eloquent and speaks too fast for my fingers 🙂
Because of Jared’s experience as a kid, Pie Ranch has integrated all kinds of youth programming into its mission and programs.  Clearly he is doing soul fulfilling work.
11:07am: Avery is now talking about how important farms and food are.  And now she’s introducing Jared Lawson from Pie Ranch.  Do you know Pie Ranch?
11:06am: POST is very interested in working with small farmers and increase this connection between people and land.  Paul wrapped up – applause!
11:02am: Paul: “How do we create mechanisms that would allow young or cash poor farmers to build equity?  Keep farmland affordable?  In large part this is inspired by our work with Pie Ranch which we’ll hear more about soon.”
Paul Ringgold
POST has conducted a lot of research about what tools exist around the country and what role POST can do to support small, sustainable farming operations.
10:56am: Paul is sharing slides that show the growth of the Bay Area. The maps he’s showing highlight the agricultural lands of the Bay Area, and those under the Farmland Protection Program:
“One of the concerns we hear at POST is that we are focused on the land.  We haven’t been focused on communities.  And we’re working to change that.”
10:54am: Paul admitted that he is from Los Angeles.  And he used to play under the Hollywood sign when he was young boy.  TPL has worked recently to protect that open space and park and Paul thanked Sam and TPL for their work on that.
10:53am: Avery is now introducing Paul Ringgold from POST.  Here is his bio:
Mr. Ringgold joined POST in 1999 undertaking various land acquisition projects. He continues in this role as well as being responsible for land stewardship planning and land management oversight. Prior to coming to POST he was a policy research associate at the Pinchot Institute of Conservation in Washington, D.C and served as a land manager and ecosystem research program director with the University of Washington. Mr. Ringgold holds a Master of Forest Science degree from Yale University. 

10:52am:  “We are going in and listening,” said Sam.  He talked about a few of their projects.  And he wrapped up.  Avery thanked Sam – applause!
10:46am: Sam Hodder: “The Trust for Public Land is in its nature dependent on partnerships.  This is particularly important in urban settings and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.”
Sam Hoder
10:42am: Sam wants to acknowledge the Open Space Council and how it took their involvement to actually make some rain.  It’s not here yet, but they say it’s coming!
“When we think regionally and think outside the box, this regional collaboration becomes a national model,” said Sam.
Here is Sam’s presentation:
10:41am: Welcoming Sam to the mic!
10:39am: Avery Cleary is back at the podium and is talking about Richard Louv’s new book, The Nature Principle.  Have you read it?  Avery then thanked Rue.  And is now introducing Sam Hodder from the Trust for Public Land.
10:37am: Rue is talking about authenticity.  Real relationships cannot be faked.  She closed by saying that she invites everyone her to join her in this work.  Applause!
10:34am: Rue is also Program Officer at the Foundation for Youth Investment (FYI).  FYI used to be a part of the Stewardship Council but has split off on its own.
“Sometimes it is assumed that by getting young people outside that they will transform their family.  It’s not always the case.  We need to include the whole family in the outdoors,” said Rue.
Rue Mapp
10:29am:  Rue grew up in Oakland but had a family farm in Lake County.  Then she went on an Outward Bound trip and that was a life-changing experience.  She has also loved technology since she was very young.
10:27am: Rue Mapp is now speaking.  She has a slideshow of images going in the background submitted by Outdoor Afro community members.  And she just asked the attendees – all 100+ of them – to call out their first outdoor teacher.  There were lots of names and places called out ranging from Mr. Smith to ocean and many more.
10:23am: Avery Cleary is now speaking and talking about the Children & Nature Network.  “Today’s topic is the most important topic we could possibly talk about.”
10:20am: Bettina Ring, our fearless Executive Director, is speaking to the group about the work that the Open Space Council.  Our conference is coming up on May 10!  More informaiton about that can be found here.
Bettina is introducing Avery Cleary, the Director of Grassroots Outreach for the Children & Nature Network.  Here’s Avery’s bio:
Avery is the founder and Executive Director of Hooked On Nature. She is a member of the C&NN Grassroots Leadership Team and co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Children in Nature Collaborative.  Over the past two decades Avery has been a spokesperson and advocate for reuniting people and nature.  Avery has a background in early childhood education and community organizing. Her work has taken her into boardrooms, city council and law enforcement offices, juvenile justice programs, neighborhood meetings, classrooms, and living rooms where she has witnessed time and again the power people have to inspire each other when they feel hope, focus on solutions, and explore ways to integrate nature into their lives.
10:00am: Good morning!  And welcome to the first Gathering of the year – our Rainy Season Gathering!  This is Annie Burke and I’ll be blogging this morning with quotes, photos, and links.

Today we’re talking about cultural relevancy.  As you know, the Bay Area is home to 7 million people.  We speak many languages, celebrate different holidays, work in different jobs and professions, play and relax in so many ways, and serve an amazing array of different foods to our families.  Across all those differences are some key commonalities including that we all value clean water, clean air, and healthy food.  Land conservation provides those.
Also making a home in this region are thousands of farmers, local food activists, outdoor education programs, social and environmental justice organizations, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.  In their own ways they are connecting people to the land.  And without land, these passions and causes would look very different.
How do all of these pieces fit together?  How is land conservation relevant to our communities? What can we all do to strengthen that connection?  Those are the questions for today. Our panel includes:

The program just started.  Ready?