“Life is what you make it, so when you’re passionate about something, give it your all. Then share that passion with the world, confidently.”
Kai Lawrence (he/him)
Graduated: 2022, Cohort 23
From: Smith Houses, Manhattan
Current Position: Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Program Associate
We enrich and nurture Fort Greene Park as a public space that puts community first—protecting everyone’s right to belong, organize, and connect with nature. The Fort Greene Park Conservancy is an independent non-profit organization that partners with local communities and NYC Parks to program, maintain, and advocate for the park as a vital space today and for generations to come.
Describe your current role. What does your typical workday look like?
“As the Program Associate, I collaborate with staff and Program Managers to assist in the general outreach, planning, and execution of our public programs and events. It’s a blend of outdoor park maintenance and indoor admin work. The first half of my day can consist of park stewardship, leading volunteers in tasks that I’ve enjoyed as a Corps Member (i.e. weeding, litter cleanup, etc.). The second half of my day can consist of virtual meetings with staff or partners, assisting in the creation of program-related content, and planning for our upcoming events/opportunities.”
Tell us about your career pathway. How has your GCF experience helped you?
“Before becoming the Program Associate for Fort Greene Park Conservancy, I was working part-time as their Assistant Educator Consultant for their environmental education program for teens. Think of it as interning with an organization first, and aligning yourself with their values. Prior to this, I was a Corps Member at GCF, learning what it meant to be an empowered leader as a young adult, and before GCF, I was just a babysitter that loved engaging the youth in their interests.
My experience at GCF empowered me to take on leadership roles with newfound confidence. It prepped me for work culture, and introduced me to urban agriculture and horticulture, environmental justice, intersectionality, and so much more. Learning about the inequities and disparities in access to green spaces and resources shed light on the intersectionality between environmental issues and social justice. This insight motivated me to actively engage in initiatives that aim to bridge these gaps and ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, has equal access to the benefits of a healthy, safe, public space.”
What advice do you have for current Corps Members and other Alumni?
“Continue to be great! Life is what you make it, so when you’re passionate about something, give it your all. Then share that passion with the world, confidently. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
Achievements at GCF:
“Completing my service term with 1039 service hours, receiving the GCF Leadership Award, and leading my own Green City Academy session on Food Justice. But, overall I’d say every successful farm stand was an achievement!”
What’s your favorite GCF memory?
“My favorite GCF memory would be the day of my 3rd farm stand, in which I was finally able to try out the Spanish phrases that I was practicing for weeks to communicate with residents. I vividly remember the surprised faces and compliments that just made my day. I’m still so glad I was able to experience that with everyone that came out for produce.”
“Green City Force was a defining character moment for me. It was a compilation of memories that will always put a smile on my face. And though all of these things are past tense, Green City Force will still mean the same to me as I move forward in life. I became a member of GCF to ‘earn my stripes’ and gain the credentials needed to obtain the real-deal jobs that were unavailable to me before. Prior to GCF, I was doing some off-the-books babysitting jobs, through friends and family. I had no substantial professional background to work with. The most important thing that I learned in GCF was just how influential one person’s voice could be for others. All it takes to completely uplift a room is for one person to step out of their comfort zone and create a new place for their peers, a ‘safe place’. It’s actually really hard for me to thank anyone in particular, because I’d feel like I’d be excluding everyone else that added onto my enjoyment for the program. So, I would like to thank all of the staff for their welcoming vibe and efforts throughout my term.”
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