Kayla Altland recently joined Park Pride’s Community Building team as our Friends of the Park Associate and will focus on providing support to Friends groups in DeKalb, City of Brookhaven, and City of Tucker. Prior to moving to Georgia, Kayla worked for the Delaware & Hudson Canal Historical Society as the Deputy Director for Administration in the Hudson Valley region of New York. There, she helped facilitate their strategic plan process, develop more efficient operations, and improve communications with the members of the museum. Kayla also worked with the National Park Service (NPS) for almost five years in New York, Kansas, and Colorado, working closely with their partner organizations and community members to develop an internship program for local high school and college students as well as lead education outreach efforts.
“I most look forward to meeting the dedicated citizens and Friends of the Park groups who for themselves and their neighbors are motivated by the desire to improve the places where they live.” ~ Kayla Altland
When Kayla is not working with Friends of the Park groups, she likes to visit museums, go hiking, find amazing inexpensive restaurants, and attempt a variety of crafts. Her favorite park activities are reading, walking, and taking pictures of flowers. For Kayla, having a comfortable place on the grass to lay out a blanket and read in the shade is an important feature in parks.
Learn more about Kayla through our short interview below.
Why are parks important?
Parks provide a connection to nature, an opportunity for life-long learning, and a community gathering space that is accessible to all people. Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania with a park only a quarter mile from my house with mountains and farms in all directions, I spent a lot of my childhood exploring the woods and playing at the park near my house. The adventures I experienced in these places informed my desire to be an environmental steward and advocate for access to nature for all people.
Park Pride’s mission is “to engage communities to activate the power of parks.” In what ways are parks powerful?
Parks are powerful because they are a part of our sense of place and play a role in developing individual and community identity. My background is in archaeology and history; heritage, cultural landscapes, and the relationship of people to the places they live are elements which I try to use in the work I do. A sense of place is important in individual development and helps us to establish an identity through where we are from and the connection with the people with whom we share that place. As a space outside of work and the home, parks have the potential to build community connections and breakdown social barriers.
Why is it important for communities to have a voice in their parks?
Communities are the ones using the parks. Seeing your voice incorporated into your local park is a visible, close-to-home way for people to see impacts of community and civic engagement. Sharing your voice and improving parks allows people to practice democracy on a microlevel. Community engagement in parks illustrates the quote by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
What part of your position with Park Pride are you enjoying the most?
I am enjoying meeting new people, both on staff and in the community. The staff are not only knowledgeable and open, but passionate about the work they are accomplishing. So far, one of the things that excites me about Park Pride is that you can see the impact of the work they do to support communities working in the parks. I most look forward to meeting the dedicated citizens and Friends of the Park groups who — for themselves and their neighbors — are motivated by the desire to improve the places where they live.