At Park Pride’s 17th Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference on March 26, 2018, six Inspiration Award winners were recognized for their commitment to nurturing and strengthening the bonds between parks and communities. This year, these leaders were recognized:
Isabel González Whitaker – Friends of Sara J. González Park
In 2010, Coronet Way Park was renamed for Isabel’s mother, Sara J. González, a prominent and well-respected advocate for Hispanic, immigrant, and minority rights in Georgia. Isabel is dedicated to working with the community to transform the park that bears her mother’s name into a special place honoring Atlanta’s Latino community and Sara Gonzales’ contributions to her beloved community. The park will offer a welcoming space for community events, programming with a focus on cultural awareness, and spaces for all children to play.
Decton Hylton – Friends of Forty Oaks Nature Preserve
Decton Hylton has worked tirelessly to engage the diverse Clarkston community, building relationships through gardening to activate Forty Oaks Nature Preserve. Decton gained expertise in community development and environmental advocacy in his native Jamaica. His skills in community organizing and leadership development have had a tremendous impact, more than doubling the size of the community garden. Decton knows that his work is not just about growing food, but it is about growing people.
Bob Kerr – South Fork Conservancy
For more than five decades, Bob Kerr has been in the thick of critical fights to save and expand access to public land for the people of Georgia. Bob was a founding member of the South Fork Conservancy, dedicated to restoring and connecting tributaries of Peachtree Creek. Without the statewide respect for Bob Kerr, the novel idea of connecting trails via sewer easements would likely have gone nowhere. But with Bob as its champion, the South Fork Conservancy now boasts miles of restored creek-side trails and two new parks that serve as trailheads.
Cara Schroeder – Friends of Tucker Parks
Cara has been committed to Tucker parks for almost a decade. She is a founding member of both Henderson Park Community Garden and the Friends of Henderson Park, and a board member of the Friends of Tucker Parks. She is active with the Wylde Center, Blue Heron Nature Preserve, and Rivers Alive. Cara has engaged volunteers, developed relationships with neighbors, and advocated for greenspaces at all levels. Her dedication and perseverance have made a real difference in Tucker’s Parks.
Joel Slaton – Friends of Constitution Lakes Park
Joel has been involved with Constitution Lakes since its beginnings as a garbage strewn brickyard. He saw it, however, as an archeological site rich with cultural remains that could be repurposed into art. By combining art with conservation on what’s known as Doll’s Head Trail, Joel created a unique way to draw visitors to the park while teaching them about history and how to respect and enjoy the natural setting. Joel’s ingenious use of found materials (basically junk) from the site has made the park a destination for new (and regular) visitors to see what new artifacts have been added to the trail.
Tony Torrence – Community Improvement Association
Tony has worked for years on behalf of communities in Northwest Atlanta that suffer from high rates of vacancy, poverty, and unemployment resulting from decades of environmental injustice. Tony leads the Community Improvement Association, empowering residents to advocate for sustainable and equitable development. He is a founder and co-chair of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, working to identify challenges to the watershed and press for action. Tony has also been a proponent of Lindsay Street Park, Boone Park West, and the Atlanta Urban Ecology Resource Center on the Westside.