After over four years of pressuring City elected officials and staff to allow the public to know that Knowland Park exists, Friends of Knowland Park today celebrate a small victory: the Park is FINALLY listed on the City’s website: (http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/opr/s/Parks/index.htm).
Unfortunately, the address provided for Knowland Park is that of the Oakland Zoo, and no other information is provided about how to access the Park itself, much less its trails and information about its plants and wildlife. Since Zoo staff, as I described in the previous post, have falsely told potential Park visitors that the Park is not open for hiking, it is likely that even more people will wind up confused and disappointed at being unable to find Oakland’s “disappeared” park.
Some of the other parks listed do not have precise street addresses, but directions for how to get to them. The same could easily be done for Knowland Park, rather than referring everyone to the Zoo, which only perpetuates the myth that Knowland Park is owned by the Zoo. Or the City could actually provide the public with real and useful information about its largest city park, by including a link to the Knowland Park Coalition’s website, www.saveknowland.org Precedent does exist for this, since at least one other parks-supporting public group is listed on another park website link.
Since I checked again just before writing my last blog post, the Park listing appears to have finally happened in response to that article. That post described the efforts we have made to try to let the public know this lovely Park exists and the apparent collusion between City and Zoo officials to “disappear” it in order to minimize opposition to the Zoo’s expansion development plans. Perhaps with another four years of pressure and shaming, the City can be persuaded to do the right thing and provide real information for the public about its most spectacular Park.
Ruth Malone is a resident of Oakland since 1983, a founding member and co-chair of Friends of Knowland Park and a longtime Oakland neighborhood activist. Since 2007, she has been working to educate and organize environmentalists, park users, and community members to protect the park. In her day job, she is a professor of nursing and health policy at University of California, San Francisco, where she helps students study the links between health and political, social and natural environments, and conducts research on the tobacco industry and its efforts to thwart public health efforts worldwide.
Ruth Malone’s Reflections Blog offers a combination of reflective essays and updates from the Protect Knowland Park Campaign, linking the fight to protect Knowland Park to broader environmental and ethical issues.