When opportunity meets with planning: María Delgado Gómez

Hi everyone,

My name is María (preferred pronouns: she/her/hers). I am a graduate student at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania’s Parks, Conservation, and Resource Management M.Sc. program. I decided to apply to the Pacific West Region Park Planning and Environmental Compliance Fellowship this year because I care deeply about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our National Parks. I am excited to work to design and plan for national park units and support evidence-informed conservation and culturally competent resource and recreation planning. Check out my first vlog and first-week highlights below:

First site Visit!

The first week, my supervisor took me and another intern on a site visit. We took the Bainbridge Island ferry and stopped by a heron rookery. I had no idea that herons nested this way!

Heron rookery: I counted over 25 nests in this area!

Then, we visited the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial (BIJAEM). I learned BIJAEM is part of the Minidoka National Historic Site, but it gets more visitation than the site in Idaho because of its proximity to Seattle.

As a first-generation immigrant, the events portrayed in BIJAEM memorial were a sobering reminder of what can happen when we as an American people do not prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.

On March 30, 1942, the Japanese Americans living on Bainbridge Island were gathered at the Eagledale Ferry Dock and sent to the incarceration camp in Manzanar, California before being transferred to Minidoka. (Source: nps.gov)

During this visit, the importance of park planning came to the fore. I asked my supervisor lots of questions about how they planned the exhibit and worked with stakeholders, including survivors and artists, to bring this important story to life throughout the site. 

The wall was designed by Johnpaul Jones, a Seattle architect and Bainbridge Island resident. Johnpaul is the designer of many well-known cultural facilities throughout the United States, including the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Northwest artist Steve Gardner created friezes that were placed on the wall, depicting the history of Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island before, during and after World War II. The memorial was opened to the public on July 30, 2011. (Source: BIJAC.org)

I was inspired by our visit and incidental, but fortuitous, meeting with Lilly Kodama-the only living survivor who is willing to talk about her experience with the public. As park planning provides a unique opportunity to interpret American history in meaningful and respectful ways, memorial sites like these ensure survivors’ stories, like Lilly’s, are remembered in perpetuity.

"Good fortune is what happens...

 …when opportunity meets with planning”.
— Thomas Edison
Back in the office, I am reminded of how lucky I am as I continue to exercise my freedoms and pursue my dreams. I look forward to supporting the work of the Pacific West Regional Park Planning and Environmental Compliance Office this year and making the most of this opportunity for me, for all who came before, for those who can’t be here, and for those who are yet to come. 

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