Connecting People and Nature for Health and Wellness
A physical therapist by training and an environmentalist by passion, Lindsay Marshall has a unique appreciation for how a person’s surroundings impact their overall health and well-being. Through her leadership roles in the Garden Club of America, in her community, and as a member of Scenic America’s national board of directors, Lindsay is a true scenic hero who seeks out opportunities to promote beauty and to foster a heightened focus on thoughtful planning and design.
“Plants, nature, and the natural world directly affect our health, both mental and physical,” she explains. “That’s why I have worked for most of my life to improve the scenic beauty of the environment.”
She grew up immersed in the scenic beauty of Charlotte, North Carolina, then earned a degree in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating, she headed north to study physical therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. For many years, she practiced physical therapy in Boston, where she often found connecting points for her professional expertise and personal interests. For example, she successfully advocated through the American Physical Therapy Association to improve the accessibility of sidewalks by adding sloped curves, opening up access to the city to people with mobility challenges.
From Boston, she relocated to Baltimore, where she got her first taste of the scenic conservation movement. She became acquainted with Ellie Kelly, one of Scenic America’s co-founders, who became a good friend and mentor. Through Ellie, Lindsay got involved with the Garden Club of America (GCA), ultimately serving as chair of its National Affairs and Legislation Committee.
Lindsay learned about Scenic America in 2016 through a lawsuit that the organization had filed against the Federal Highway Administration over the agency’s failed enforcement of the Highway Beautification Act. The GCA had been asked to sign on to an amici brief in support of the scenic position. Under the guidance of scenic attorney Bill Brinton, Lindsay, as GCA’s National Affairs and Legislation Chairman, studied the issue carefully, learning more about digital billboards and their dangerous proliferation. She ultimately recommended that the GCA join the brief.
“I became very interested in those horrible electronic billboards,” she recalls. “I was hooked.”
Although Scenic America lost the lawsuit, Lindsay kept up her interest in the organization’s work on billboards and other scenic issues. After relocating to Atlanta, she became involved in community concerns, volunteering to create Louise Howard Park, and working patiently and persistently with the city government as a board member of Park Pride Atlanta to improve the quality of and access to Atlanta Beltline parks. While keeping up her leadership and service with the GCA, she remained connected to Scenic America and was invited to join the board of Scenic America in 2020. She now heads the board’s nomination committee.
Today Lindsay splits time between historic Charleston, South Carolina, and beautiful central Virginia, where she readily notes the impact and opportunity of scenic conservation efforts. In Charleston, she is particularly attuned to issues like utility undergrounding as she notes the wires that crisscross the picturesque waterfront streets of historic Charleston, posing a threat to the safety of the residents and the resiliency of the historic structures.
In Virginia, she spies opportunities to shape the future of a town near her home, Gordonsville, that is currently enjoying a renaissance. She keeps an eye on community issues, applauding the town’s proactive stance against billboards, and she is seeking out opportunities to encourage utility undergrounding and to become involved with park development in a historically diverse neighborhood.
In addition to her involvement with her community, with Scenic America, and with the GCA, she also a Board member of the M.C. Carlos Museum at Emory University, an executive board member of Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation, and a board member of the Center for Plant Conservation.
Through all stages and aspects of her life and career, nature, plants, and conservation have served as Lindsay’s guiding passions. In the wake of the pandemic, she points to a significant opportunity for Scenic America and its allies.
“Nature is the key to helping us recover from the impacts of COVID, not electronic billboards,” she notes.