The Charleston Park Angels are volunteers who manage the Charleston Park Conservancy (CPC) Garden in the Parks program. Their manifesto begins with, “We are the people of Charleston – The historic, the proud” and ends with, “We come together to improve, to preserve, to share our parks in a way that is worthy of our beautiful city. We honor the past; we preserve the present; we celebrate the future; We are the Park Angels of Charleston. Our City. Our Parks. Our Pride. Our Mission.”1
Initiated in 2009, just two years after the CPC was formed, the Park Angels have redefined community support to be more than weeding and watering. Rather, they seek to connect the community to their parks through a collective vision, education, and involvement. They fulfill not only the physical upkeep of parks, which the city could no longer provide, but they preserve the social importance and the deep history of their parks.2
When CPC needed a stable volunteer force for their growing park programs, they partnered with the Brains on Fire organization, a company that defines and initiates movements.3 They set out to form an organization that would inspire a relationship between the volunteers and the parks, and with each other. Utilizing internet social networking sites, they created Park Angels, a “separate but complementary identity” from CPC.4 Their virtual community connects, informs, and supports the Charleston community concerning their parks.
Brains on Fire then enrolled and trained six Lead Park Angels to provide leadership for two year terms and featured them on their virtual community site. These Lead Angels are the liaison with the neighborhoods around the parks and are responsible for recruiting new Park Angels, answering citizen concerns, and coordinating all park care and improvements. A vital part in this organization is the freedom CPC gives the Lead Angels in making decisions concerning the parks under their stewardship.
A Park Angel might plan Park Week events, plant bulbs, weed flower beds, hold a neighborhood info session, blog about a park work day, share about the parks with a neighbor, or become an Aqua Angel and assist to keep the parks watered during the heat of summer.5 In all these ways they seek, “to increase the quality, awareness, appreciation and usage of Charleston's parks and greenspaces.”6
- 1. “Manifesto.” Charleston Park Conservancy. < http://www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/community/manifesto/ > 13 Jan. 2012.
- 2. Wheeler, Alina. Designing Brand Identity. Third edition. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. pp. 258-259.
- 3. “Brains on Fire.” Brains on Fire. < http://www.brainsonfire.com/ > 6 May 2012.
- 4. Op.cit., Wheeler.
- 5. “Charleston Parks Conservancy Seeks 'Aqua Angels' to Keep Parks Watered During Summer Heat.” Charleston Parks Conservancy. 21 July 2011. < http://www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/news/view_pres/charleston_parks_conservancy_seeks_aqua_angels_to_keep_parks_watered_during/ > 13 Jan. 2012.
- 6. “Mission.” Charleston Parks Conservancy. < http://www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/who_we_are/mission/ > 13 Jan. 2012.