With the success of the June 10 “Yes on 1” vote in Portland, my commitment to improving and expanding public parks has been affirmed.

I first understood the need to maintain and utilize our parks during the Occupy Maine movement in Portland in 2011.

I remember when Occupy Maine started hosting General Assembly meetings at Congress Square Park in early 2012 when the rumor circulated that the park could be sold to Rockbridge Capital and the Westin.

After Occupy, I decided to run for Portland School Board and was elected to represent District 2. To my delight, this year I was appointed to the Mayor’s Initiative for Healthy Sustainable Food Systems Committee. During one recent meeting, it was mentioned that the waiting list for a community garden plot in Portland was about three years long!

While walking through Boston a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon more than 500 community garden plots that were originally Victory Gardens started during World War II.

While no one can deny that our precious parks are neglected and often underutilized, it occurred to me while visiting the Fenway gardens that Portland needs Victory Gardens, too. Instead of relying upon the city and our dissolved Parks Department, we could have our own citizenry growing more food and flowers and spending time with their families in our parks.

Despite the June 10 vote, the future of Congress Square Park is still uncertain. We need stewardship of our parks by the people, and radically expanding our community garden plots is an economical and common-sense way to beautify and sustain our community spaces.

Holly Seeliger