Homage to a Few Summer Heroes

Summer is officially over and it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the activities, challenges and accomplishments of the past few months, along with the people who really distinguished themselves by their work.

I frame my assessment by once again reiterating that we are in a new era—or, as I prefer to call it, a new paradigm. This paradigm is one in which there are more citizens improving San Jose’s parks and trails.

It’s easy to complain and criticize the current city government, and these opinions occasionally have merit—mainly those levied by people who seek solutions to make things better and work together. A few people who take action to make things better include:

Steve Holmes. Steve has the energy and “can do” spirit. A couple years ago he createdthe Friends of Los Gatos Creek, before expanding his work to create the Friends of Guadalupe River. Steve has been organizing massive clean-ups for a couple years. Under his leadership, he has recruited hundreds of additional volunteers, worked with several layers of bureaucracy, contributed funds and raised thousands of dollars from others—including a recent grant from eBay.

Another of my Summer heroes is Brian Clampitt, a city staffer (PRNS) who headed up the Summer in St. James effort. Brian worked to bring the park a variety of performing artists (i.e. SF Mime Troupe, Akoma Arts and The Commons), interactive programs like Be the Change Yoga, and family activities like Happy Hollow and Zoo to You. A lot of city staff contributed to the rebranding of St. James Park, but Brian really led by example. He is easy to work with and always generates positive energy.

Jack Wimberley is a downtown resident who lives near St. James Park. He has served on the San Jose Rotary’s subcommittee and provided leadership for a number of efforts to improve downtown.  Jack has also served as co-chair of the Levitt Exploratory Committee since its inception, and his leadership has been invaluable to getting a huge amount of work done in a short time.Jack’s research into every layer of city policy, architectural design and master planning have been key to understanding the Levitt Pavilion’s potential role in St. James Park.

Another source of leadership and exceptional effort is Richard McMurtry, a retired professional with an expertise in water issues. Richard has been involved for several years in water policy groups, but he really stepped up to create the Friends of Coyote Creek Coalition. Not only has he worked with the numerous departments and led several clean-ups, Richard has also raised more than $60,000 to fund this work, receiving support through Silicon Valley Gives, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

James P. Reber is the executive director of San Jose Parks Foundation, a veteran nonprofit entrepreneur and experienced special event planner and producer. He can be reached at [email protected] or 408.893.PARK.

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