Connecting to Nature During COVID-19

August 6, 2020 by Alana Wenk, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

The power of parks can't be underestimated. They are here for us during times of uncertainty when little else is available. They are sanctuaries in the center of chaos. They serve as a place of peace and comfort for our minds and spirits.

The COVID-19 global health emergency has affected so many of us in different ways. This unprecedented time is something many of us thought could never happen during our lifetime. Through the darkness and uncertainty of the pandemic, Pittsburghers leaned on the parks for support, including Frick Park visitor, Jill Rubinstein.

With so little available at the start of the state-wide shutdown, Jill found herself exploring Frick Park. She began visiting the park for one hour twice a week. The twice-weekly visit then became one hour every day, which then lead to daily two-hour hikes in the woods.

"Frick Park is such a gift and there are so many wonders to discover," Jill said. "I love exploring early in the morning before the park gets too busy. It's where I seek solace and pray for the health of the parks."

Not only was Jill able to lean on Frick Park during this uncertain time, but she also mourned the loss of a loved one during her visits. Two years ago, Jill lost her dear friend, Jodi. Jill had always wanted to plan a memorial walk to honor Jodi's life. COVID-19 allowed Jill to do just that. She chose a date and took a hike through Frick Park. It allowed her to connect with nature, as she navigated through the current mess of the world. She took in the greatness that surrounded her, and at that moment, she simply appreciated her connection to nature.

The coronavirus has impacted our daily lives in so many ways. As we move forward, we're reimagining life as we know it, but one thing remains true: your parks are here for you.