Session Details

Building Ownership through Community Stewardship

This session will explore four different models of community-based park stewardship and how to create an organizational culture that fosters community participation and ownership. We'll look at the lessons learned, pitfalls to avoid, and the benefits of how an engaged community contributes not only to resilient parks but resilient communities.

El Paso Community Gardens in Chicago, a 1.5 acre site, is conducting an experiment in direct community management of community space, a model which is funded entirely through private funds and provides ample opportunities for community led programming, innovation, and a sense of ownership.

Charleston Parks Conservancy will share the story of the Park Angels, upon which the conservancy's culture and business model has been built. Park Angel volunteers have been critical to the renovation of Colonial Lake, contributing thousands of hours to the installation of tens of thousands of plants, and banded together to restore the park again after the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew.

San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and San Francisco Alliance will explore how they're moving from a community stewardship model to a community-assisted stewardship model, looking at examples of stewardship that bring a new perspective to community led activation of parks. The City of San Francisco is exploring active engagement efforts and installations to encourage robust community engagement on capital projects, increase stewardship and improve park behavior. Examples that will be discussed include a treasure hunt in McLaren Park, a community-led activation at Buchanan St. Mall, trash management through the Love Dolores campaign, and daily and monthly activation efforts at Civic Center Plaza.

Session Presentation Slides

Slide Deck: Building Ownership through Community Stewardship - Part 1

Slide Deck: Building Ownership through Community Stewardship - Part 2


  • Understand different models of community-based stewardship.
  • Understand the benefits and pitfalls of various models of community stewardship.
  • Learn about the fiscal, bureaucratic, and legal barriers these models confront.
  • Learn how to implement an organizational culture by involving the community at every step.