Ruth Pimentel: The Organizing Power of Parks

Meet Ruth Pimentel from Alameda, California and one of Park Pride’s summer Visioning Interns. Ruth studied archaeology and Arabic at Harvard University, and is currently pursuing a Masters in city and regional planning, with a focus on environmental planning, at Georgia Tech.

“Parks are often one of the only public spaces people feel ownership of, and that sense of ownership can be a powerful organizing force.” – Ruth Pimentel


In her free time, Ruth loves working with plants! She volunteers with Trees Atlanta and with the horticulture staff at Atlanta History Center, and manages her own garden and a community garden at Georgia Tech. Ruth also love biking around Atlanta and checking out new bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure. So cool!

We sat down with Ruth to get her take on parks, community, and her role with Park Pride.

How do you see communities connected to parks? What role does each play for the other?

I’m fascinated by the ways people connect to and invest in the land around them. As an archaeologist, my favorite dig sites were in public areas, so that I could chat with curious passersby about the objects we were finding and what they meant about the place where we were standing. As a field ecologist and later a social science researcher in the national parks, I got to know extremely passionate park volunteers and park users who had profound connections to the places where they weeded and hiked together, and I documented some of those groups’ park use patterns.

Here in Atlanta, I’ve noticed neighbors meeting each other and spending time together in public parks. Parks are often one of the only public spaces people feel ownership of, and that sense of ownership can be a powerful organizing force. People who all love the same park will feel kinship with each other, and a park that has a cohesive group of supporters will receive good care and lots of use.

How are parks important for the environment?

Parks are filters for the city’s air, sponges for its stormwater, and regulators for its temperature. They buffer environmental extremes and remind us on each visit how priceless these powerful natural resources are.

What’s been your favorite aspect of working for Park Pride this summer?

Park Pride is great at coordinating between local government, other non-profits, and community groups. I’ve loved getting to know this dense ecosystem of collaborators.

And, just for fun, what’s is your favorite picnic park food and why?

Cherries! They taste like summer and they’re easy to share.

Couldn’t agree with you more, Ruth! Welcome to the team!

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