Ted Johnson is a steward for an equitable Fort Greene park. In 2014, Ted (a dog owner and daily park user) was approached to become a member of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy Board (FGPC) which, at that time, was a collective of concerned citizens focused on initiatives around the park from children’s programming to Halloween festivities to bench sponsorships and more. However, no one was focused on the nuts and bolts operation of the park itself, so he picked that as his focus, bringing with him skills from working as an operational management consultant in the airline industry.
He had to become an expert in the park itself learning many new subjects. Ted’s fingerprint is throughout the park: helping design and install erosion/drainage projects (such as the elimination of Lake Fort Greene); installing a walkway that was completed early and under budget; creating a snow removal plan that opens the park in a minimal amount of time; training and supporting park staff; and simply being a walking park information resource.
A continual challenge is balancing the desires of different park users, including making sure people of color are represented. A guiding force is the concept of park equity, most recently through a modernization project that supports the north side of the park, which has been historically underinvested in. Ted lobbied for this by demonstrating community interest to politicians and parks officials.
Over time, the Park has transitioned from total dependence on the borough’s centralized park to a near standalone destination park. Ted has retired from the FGPC Board but still regularly volunteers, as he takes pride in the park being clean, green and safe by 9AM most days. Through his park efforts, he has found new meaning to his high school’s motto Non Sibi – not for self.