The quality of a city is directly related to the quality of its parks. So sayeth the Charleston Parks Conservancy, a non-profit organization that fosters a public-private partnership with the City of Charleston and local neighborhoods to care for and improve Charleston’s parks, thereby improving Charleston’s health, community, and economic strength.
As Parks & Recreation’s Leslie Knope reminds us all, “Parks don’t grow on trees.” Funding remains the biggest challenge for maintaining public spaces at a high level of quality. Enter Amy Carter, Director of Development for the Conservancy, a leader who combines relentless optimism with an old-fashioned work ethic. She’s a dreamer and a doer. A visionary, goal-driven worker.
Carter describes the Conservancy’s mission as “inspiring the people of Charleston to connect with their parks and with each other. It’s about engagement and people taking ownership over their public spaces. Volunteering in a park can be a gateway, showing citizens how important civic engagement is.”
A Colleton County native and a College of Charleston graduate, Carter worked for several years in DC and Northern California before moving back to Charleston in 2009. She calls her Conservancy role the best job she’s ever had. “It marries my interests in nature, environment, community, and public spaces.”
She’s also passionate about getting public art into Charleston parks. Carter is currently working with Redux Contemporary Art Center to design a program of temporary public art installations, providing opportunities for artists to show their work and another reason for residents to enjoy local public spaces. Art in the parks is a future planned project.
“Charleston is full of vibrant neighborhood hubs with a diversity of people—artists, tech workers, intellectuals, teachers, students, young families, and seniors—when people come together sharing diverse ideas, we can’t help but build a stronger community.”
Carter believes being a citizen should be an active role, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“Get involved in your schools, your parks, and the arts. Realize that you can make a difference by becoming engaged in your community.”
Words by Claire Gibbons
Photo by Elizabeth Ervin