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Last Thursday, Institute team members joined over 400 participants in attending the 15th  Annual Open Space Conference put on by the Bay Area Space Council at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio. This year’s conference theme focused on Welcoming, Interacting, Participating, and looked at how the open space community can expand their reach to include new audiences and open up the conversation about land conservation.

The day was filled with a variety of speakers, many of which touched on issues that are near and dear to us at the Institute. Elizabeth Babcock from California Academy of Science spoke about exciting new educational collaborations in the Bay Area that are based on the collective impact model. As the Institute has seen the benefits of collective impact first-hand through the Healthy Parks, Healthy People collaborative, we were particularly excited to see it discussed in this venue.

Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, stressed that in order to engage new, diverse audiences in conservation, you must take the time to understand the values and barriers to access and engagement of that specific community. To inspire deep connection, conservation professionals need to go to their target communities and take the time to understand to their needs and values. At the Institute, we have seen the importance of meeting people where they are at and try to integrate this ethos throughout our programs. To hear Rue Mapp speak so eloquently about this issue was truly motivating and inspiring.

And that is just a couple of the phenomenal speakers that filled the day! For a full list of speakers, visit the Open Space Conference Speakers page.

Additionally, the organizers built in time for participants to interact with each other as well as the surrounding environment through group sessions and a build your own art with nature station. At lunch Institute Senior Fellow Nooshin Razani mingled with the crowd, giving out park prescriptions and making the important connection between human health and time in nature.

The Institute team would like to give a huge shout out to the Bay Area Open Space Council for organizing such an inspiring, engaging, and thought provoking conference!

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