When Jennifer Arndt Robinson moved into her Baltimore neighborhood in 2001, she was told to stay away from nearby Patterson Park. What does a true nature and animal lover do? Jennifer got a dog and visited the 137-acre park daily.
On these daily walks, she made new friends and connections and started shifting her perception of community. The park became a sort of third home to her, apart from her house and office, a critical urban ecosystem of people, nature, and, of course, dogs. A critical refuge to “reset”—a place to get out of cars, be active, talk to people – to connect.
To further support the park’s efforts, Jennifer joined the Friends of Patterson Park board in 2008 and then transitioned to a professional role a few years later.
One of the core features of the park is an iconic marble water fountain from 1864—a powerful source of community pride, place, and togetherness. It was decided that this space would become a Nature Sacred restoration project to ensure its future use. As Jennifer puts it: “When our historic fountain doesn’t work, it changes the way someone experiences their walk in the park. When it does work, it has the power to change people’s perspectives on their day. The water is cooling on a hot day and captures rainbows in the sunshine.” (picture)
As a Firesoul, Jenny looks for ways to help make the space more sacred—a place for personal respite and community unity—and meaningful to park users. Some of this work is more practical, behind-the-scenes upkeep—keeping things working, so the community doesn’t need to worry about it.
Yet, the rewards are potent. To Jennifer, she loves to observe the park visitors—witnessing the myriad ways people use it and make it their own. To see how people connect and bond. Recently, Jennifer shared, a neighbor is going through treatment for cancer. He comes to the fountain almost every day he’s able and enjoys just sitting and taking it in. He’s become part of the park family—everyone’s following his journey along. That’s community.
In being a good listener and observer, one can effectively evolve to serve people best—to keep them coming back. To keep the community harmonious. To keep its people—and pets—healthy and inspired.