Dr. Rama Kasturi, struck by the passing of a loved pet, a mother with metastatic breast cancer and a bout with breast cancer herself, turned to walking in parks for salvation. This was nothing new for Rama, as she says she has been walking in her favorite neighborhood park, Burnet Woods, for close to three decades. Being a fan of parks for many years, Rama felt called to action when a plan to develop Burnet Woods was presented. Through advocacy and a self-published book titled “Four Seasons in Burnet Woods,” Rama worked to preserve the park to which she feels intimately connected. We asked Rama to share her story and pass along a bit of advice.
Meet Dr. Rama Kasturi (she/her)
Great Parks: How and why did you get into the world of conservation?
Rama Kasturi: I have been walking in parks with my dogs, Burnet Woods in particular, almost every day I have been in Cincinnati for the past 26 years. There was a proposal to build a large cultural arts center within Burnet Woods a few years ago. Along with the building would come all other associated infrastructure such as parking. Having walked in the park for almost three decades, I feel as if I knew this park like the back of my hand. I had to stand up for the natural treasure. I felt compelled to stand up and lend my voice to help preserve this amazing, natural urban treasure. I had to share my story. It was time to give back to a place that had given so much to me, especially in my darkest moments. Why would you pitch a circus tent in a cathedral?
GP: Did you experience any barriers in this field? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
RK: One is never popular when speaking up against such a large and well-funded project. However, given that I had spoken up for the park for many years before the project was proposed, I had already built a solid resume as being a person who cared for green spaces. Due to my background, people knew and understood why I was standing up for what I consider to be such sacred ground.
GP: What value do you believe parks and other public green spaces have in conservation efforts?
RK: People can enjoy nature for free. I believe more and more people are seeking the solitude of green spaces because they are safe and good for your health. There could be no greater endorsement of our green spaces than people flocking to parks throughout the pandemic. Parks allow us to understand that we are part of nature and nature is part of us.
GP: What would you recommend to someone who wants to get involved in the world of conservation?
RK: Look to endow the parks so they can be taken care of forever. One can donate money and look for ways to volunteer. Parks are always seeking volunteer help in conservation work. Someone can also volunteer with organizations that are working to keep our communities clean.
Rama has recovered from her bout with breast cancer and credits her daily walks in the park for returning her both her physical and mental health. In the foreword to her book she states, “Despite my worries about what the future would bring, sunlight penetrated the woods and the darkness in my life giving rise to healing and regeneration.”
She hopes that her work will encourage people to never take the gifts of nature for granted. Through her book, she hopes to afford people knowledge and understanding of what an amazing place even an urban 90-acre park can be. You can purchase Rama’s book online by emailing her, by visiting Clifton Market’s website, or on Amazon.
Nature Interpreter, Miami Whitewater Forest