Parks and Trails Stewardship in the 21st Century: Part I

The concept of stewardship is one that has become much more prominent in our environmental discussions in recent years, especially as it pertains to our parks, trails and urban open spaces. Webster defines stewardship as: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

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Learning from Orange County’s Great Park

My journey through the new paradigm of San Jose’s parks and trails received another boost in the last month. Part of it came from a vacation to Montana, which always opens my eyes a bit and makes me reflect. But the biggest boost I received was from a tour of Los Angeles and Orange County parks.

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Shakespeare San Jose a Great Success

Two years ago, I approached the talented group Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company and asked staff to walk through Willow Glen’s Bramhall Park with me to see if they would consider performing at the venue. At first glance, it was viewed as less desirable, due to the fact that the grass was dead in the summer, and the amphitheater had electrical connections that no longer functioned and sub-optimal lighting. Despite these less than ideal circumstances, we agreed to keep in touch.

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City Parks Alliance: A Parks & Trails Resource

In the spring of 2012, I received notice of a conference in New York City called “Greater & Greener” that was to take place in July. The conference, which is wrapping up this year’s annual event today, covered a wide variety of topics all related to urban parks and trails.

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The Different Roles Nonprofits Play in Private-Public Partnerships for Parks

We hear talk from time to time about partnerships between the public sector and private sector, essentially merging the mutual interests of governments, which serve communities, and private companies, which exist to make profits for shareholders or their private owners. But there is another entrant in the private sector that is often a partner but seems to get left out of the public/private partnership discussion: nonprofits. When it comes to parks, these organizations can make critical contributions.

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How I Allocated District 6’s HP Grant Money

Each fiscal year, San Jose’s councilmembers are allocated $20,000 in “HP grants” that can be utilized to provide grants to cultural, educational or recreational groups. These funds are allocated solely at the discretion of the elected official. My allocations, listed in this column, represent my personal priorities and values not only as an elected official, but also as a proud citizen of San Jose.

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San Jose Hosts Shakespeare in the Park

I was 13 when I saw my first William Shakespeare play. We saw “King Lear,” one of the Bard’s last and darkest plays. It was a magnificent occasion for me, and I still have a passion for the Bard’s work, as well as watching performances in an outdoor setting—especially in a park. San Jose residents should feel lucky that special performances will take place next month in Willow Glen, where the Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company will put on its season opener, “The Twelfth Night.”

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Parks Promote Better Mental Health

People like Frederick Law Olmstead and Henry David Thoreau claimed that direct access to natural surroundings, such as parks, has psychological benefits for people. Noth based these claims more on opinion than fact, but recent studies show both men were on the right track.

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Further Adventures in the New Paradigm

I have mentioned before that we are now all part of a new paradigm in civic life, especially as it relates to our parks, trails and recreation programs. The new paradigm is not a great distance from this traditional view. It is merely a small step forward by the citizenry toward a closer level of ownership and participation than we have generally assumed. That one step is active care. A recent example relates to bags supplied at our local dog parks.

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An Amazing Inventory: San Jose Parks and Trails

Like many people who were raised in Santa Clara Valley, before it was Silicon Valley, I spent my youth playing a lot of baseball, bicycling, running, shooting hoops and hanging out with friends at our local park. I took for granted that this magical place was always here for me.

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Park Rangers Play a Special Role

There is finally some good news on the San Jose Park Ranger front. Current plans are for the force to be increased next year. In addition to completing basic law enforcement training, park rangers have a unique set of skills and serve as ambassadors for our parks and trails.

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Hamann Park Neighbors Preserve the Family Ambiance

Marijane Hamann Park is a spacious green expanse of 10.5 acres ensconced in a suburban enclave of San Jose that borders the city of Campbell. The park’s amenities include a children’s playground, a large green carpet of lawn, picnic tables and barbecues. But not too long ago, neighbors of Hamann Park had some tough choices to make to reclaim the park.

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