Common Ground Host Stories: The Trust for Public Land

Guests at TPLs Common Ground event stand as a group in front of a brick wall
Attendees at TPL's 2018 Common Ground event.

Our Common Ground day of community conversation returns for its third year on June 30, 2019! In this blog series, we’re featuring the stories of people who have hosted Common Ground conversations in years past. In this guest blog, Shanelle Smith and Tina Tamburro of The Trust for Public Land (TPL) reflect on their experience as Common Ground hosts last year. You can explore this year’s selection of Common Ground events here

Names: Shanelle Smith and Tina Tamburro 

Profession: Smith is State Director for TPL in Ohio and Tamburro is Director of Philanthropy at the organization.

Neighborhood Where You Hosted: They hosted their Common Ground conversation event at TPL’s office on the East Bank of the Flats. 

What motivated you to participate in Common Ground 2018?

The Trust for Public Land was excited to participate in Common Ground 2018 to engage with the community around their sense of place, specifically how people engage in and around their local parks. The Trust for Public Land works with residents to build parks, reimagine public spaces and create spaces that reflect local culture and history, while ensuring a park or greenspace meets the most needs for the most people. We do that by engaging meaningfully with residents and community stakeholders in creative placemaking workshops, community meetings, one-on-one conversations and interacting with residents where they live. So we jumped at the chance to host community members in our space to talk about parks and greenspace, and to encourage them to envision their ideal space. Our theme was “Why Do Parks Matter?”

Guests sit around table making crafts

Attendees at TPL’s 2018 Common Ground event design their ideal parks.

What are some of the community issues you discussed at your Common Ground conversation?

We invited guests to talk about their personal interactions with parks and greenspaces in their neighborhoods, their hopes and dreams for what they would call their “ideal” park, and barriers that prevent people from enjoying parks and greenspaces. We had several robust conversations in small groups, and encouraged all of our participants – from young children to older adults – to use craft supplies to build their ideal park. Once everyone had an opportunity to share in their small group, each person shared their creation with the larger group.

What did you hope to accomplish by hosting your conversation?

We invited the City of Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability and Parks and Recreation Department, as well as our friend and partner Deb Yandala, Executive Director of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, to encourage discussion about parks and greenspace at the local, regional and national level. We prompted participants to think about their interactions with parks and greenspaces, asking each person to participate in our mini creative placemaking session. We wanted our event to be interactive and fun.

Two children sit at table making crafts and talking

Attendees at TPL’s 2018 Common Ground event.

What’s your favorite memory from Common Ground?

We invited people of all ages to participate in our Common Ground “Why Do Parks Matter?” event, envisioning a family-friendly event where we placed craft supplies out for the kids to create their ideal park. Our favorite part about the event was watching all of the adult participants take part in the creative portion and then sharing their creations with the group.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering hosting a Common Ground conversation?

Collaborate with other community-based organizations, and try to use the summer day to your advantage – get outside!

Interested in hosting your own Common Ground conversation this year? Details and host registration are available here. The deadline to register as a host is June 17! 

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