Guest post written by Ruti Turner & Ale Cristiani-Owen
Spring Into History took place at the Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA. It was one of the many impact events that Niantic supports each year to encourage community engagement and positive impact. The event drew hundreds of players to this public space and raised donations for the preservation & restoration of the cemetery.Learn more about these initiatives and apply for Niantic to support your local impact event on our Social Impact webpage.
Historic Oakland Cemetery is Atlanta’s oldest public park and the final resting place of many of the city’s most noted citizens. Less than a mile from downtown, its 48 acres are full of treasures like historical landmarks and gardens, sculpture and architecture, ancient oaks and magnolias. It’s a wedding venue, a green space, an art gallery, a classroom space, a place to celebrate the city’s rich and fascinating past and future and is now a beloved playground for players of Pokémon GO and Ingress.
This is the story of how, on a gloomy rain-soaked day in March, Trainers and Agents from across the metro-area came out to show their support and raise funds for the preservation of Atlanta's oldest Necropolis. It was a collaboration between a motivated Trainer, Ale Cristiani-Owen, and a curious cemetery employee, Ruti Turner, who worked together to encourage their community to come together for good.
When Pokémon GO first came out, one of the few welcoming places was Oakland Cemetery. It quickly became a favorite playground amongst Trainers. Living right near the cemetery, I often played for long hours. I became friends with the gardeners, who always waved a friendly hello and often asked if I had caught any great Pokémon that day. With the inception of Community Day last year, I decided that it shouldn’t be just about Pokémon GO but also about giving back to the places that opened their doors and welcomed us. With the help of fellow Trainers, we made food bags to feed the homeless and donated clothing.
One day Ruti, the Private Events Coordinator for the Historic Oakland Foundation, stopped me and asked if I would like to host an event at the cemetery. I was so excited at the prospect of helping one of the places where we normally gathered for Community Day! I reached out to some of my friends in the community and together we decided to host a fundraiser to benefit the Historic Oakland Foundation. It was then that the thought of contacting Niantic came to mind. The Niantic team was so receptive and encouraging of the partnership, and they helped us lay the foundation for an amazing event.
On a gloomy day in March, we gathered to help raise funds for their restoration efforts. Even though the weather called for all-day thunderstorms, it did not stop Trainers and Agents from coming out and participating in the festivities. Our volunteers (“The Gengar Crew”), handmade quilts and cupcakes, donated swag and worked hard to put together an impressive raffle. Through their efforts and the community’s support, over 700 Trainers and Agents who braved the weather were able to raise more than $5,000 in donations for the cemetery. It was amazing to see the community come together and help one of the places that has always been so welcoming. We hope this is just the beginning of more events to come!
—Ruti Turner, Private Events Coordinator, Historic Oakland Foundation & Ale Cristiani-Owen, Enthusiastic Pokémon GO Trainer