Innovator: Jocelyn Park, Lancaster Transplant
Jocelyn Park says she can’t pinpoint the exact moment she decided to start Lancaster Transplant, a group devoted to cultivating community and opportunity for people who move to the area, but she can trace her interest in it back to a trip to Milan, Italy. “It was there that I really developed a keen sense of cultural curiosity, and I wanted to learn everything I could, speak as much Italian as I could learn, and experience as much as I could in my new home,” Park explains.
It was a few years later, while she was studying in Australia, that Park started her first blog. During the trip, she says she was lonely and yearning to find friends in a totally foreign environment. That’s when she started sharing her experiences online in an effort to forge connection. It worked, and the idea to start a group that was more than just writing was born.
Originally from Media, Pa, Park was introduced to Lancaster herself first through punk rock shows and shopping at Angry, Young and Poor. But it was back in 2012 that she dated someone from the area, and started to fall in love with the subculture of downtown. (She even cites American Bar & Grill as her favorite restaurant at the time.) Ultimately, her next move was clear: “I packed up my stuff, my cat, and myself, got a job a local coffee shop, and began my life in Lancaster,” Park recalls.
Lancaster Transplant officially launched in 2013, as a blog on which Park shared the experience of “not being from here” in an effort to help others feel less alone. From there, Park and her friends began hosting mixers, events, field trips and hikes.
In 2015, the membership program was launched, after Park and Diane Richards, a co-founder of the organization entered the first Social Enterprise Pitch. “Our first members, number one and two, are Donna and Ken Park, also known as Mom and Dad. After that were people we knew, and people we didn’t. Our third member was Robert Diggs, who, in 2016, became our Membership Master. We had an official launch party at Thistle Finch and Wacker, and invited some other creative folks, the Small Room Collective, to come bring their airstream trailer full of goods to Lancaster. That was an amazing night,” Park recalls.
Long-term, Park’s vision is to make Lancaster Transplant one of many hubs for all the city transplants around the world. “A network of people who can support one another, who can get connected to their communities, and would inevitably make the world a happier and healthier place,” she describes.” I’ve always wanted a physical Welcome Center for people to come into to get started, to engage with a friendly face, and feel a little less alone on their first day in their new home. We had a physical home for almost a year, but in the end it just wasn’t the right time for us.”
Ultimately, Park is most proud of creating something that she calls a “force for good within the community.” She continues: “I am proud of my team for being thought leaders. I’m proud of our members for believing in us. I’m proud of our community for accepting us. And I’m proud every single time someone identifies themselves as a Transplant.”