Our Values, Value and Voice
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Our Values, Value and Voice
 
Who is the most important user of parks and recreation infrastructure? Mothers and children? Teens? Seniors? Millennials? Does it matter?
 
We were having some interesting internal conversations this week about NRPA's values, value and our voice. Usually, these navel-gazing exercises quickly grow tiresome but, perhaps as a testament to our facilitator and our cracker jack NRPA team, I was really into the conversation. This is probably because when we talk about our values, value and voice, we're really talking about the values, value and voice of your work and the work of people on the ground in parks and recreation. So here's my summation:

Values
Parks and recreation has the ability to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population, year-round, and regardless of race, creed, background or ability to pay, in pretty much every community in the country. Because of this, we may be one of the few trusted entities left in American society, or certainly in government.
 
Value
Our ability to deliver both joy and substance giving the option for life-affirming experiences with nature and preventative health care through intentional programs uniquely positions parks and recreation to provide the balm to our troubled national psyche. No matter what you need, we got you covered. Stressed over the latest tweet from our commander in chief? Try a tai chi or Zumba class. Commute getting you down? Try a walk with your kids or dog along a trail. In a rut after the holidays? How about a paddle along a waterway? Stuck in the vice grip of a seemingly endless polar vortex? Try a swim in the relative tropics of a local indoor pool or rent some cross-country skis and face Father Winter head on.  
 
Voice
This is where I struggle. There are so many great stories and so much value added that perhaps our strength in value is our weakness in voice. We are in some ways all things to all people, which dilutes the impact. The new mother finds respite and community at the playground. The 14-year-old down the block looks forward to the pick-up game after school lets out. A few hours earlier, the senior a few doors down revels in the sense of community provided by the weekly Mahjong game and a lively lunch, while the millennial rolls in at sunset to post artsy renderings of the surrounding park bathed in the perfect light. More often than not, never these contented four shall meet.

Your sweat equity helps create this tapestry of joy  you are the thread that binds each of these users. You may not always get the credit you deserve, but I see you parks and rec. And if anyone says parks and rec ain't critical community infrastructure, then I challenge them to move to a community that doesn't have it.
 
So friends, parkies and fellow foot soldiers on a long march for better parks and better communities, take a few minutes this week and this winter to reflect on the values, value and voice of your organization. And don't for a second let those SOBs in public works think they got anything on us.
 
Kevin O'Hara
Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs
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In this week's episode of Open Space Radio, we're taking a look at a city and mayor who have done some incredible work when it comes to park access. The city is San Francisco, California. We recently had the privilege of speaking with San Francisco Recreation and Parks General Manager, Phil Ginsburg, about becoming the first city to achieve the goal of the 10-Minute Walk campaign which is a testament to San Francisco's great work and the legacy of Mayor Ed Lee.
Listen Now
 
Several years ago, what started as a lighthearted look at new, interesting and even controversial trends in the field of parks and recreation for the coming year, has now become an annual New Year tradition.  Past top trends for Parks and Recreation of previous years have proven surprisingly prescient, coming true more than not. Will we hit the mark again? You be the judge. Part tongue-in cheek musing and part fearless prognostication, here are NRPA's Top Trends for 2018.
Check Out the Trends

 
 
 
Applications for the National Gold Medal Award are now being accepted. Big or small, your agency is qualified to apply. There are five classes of awards based on population, plus a category for Armed Forces Recreation, so there is a spot for everyone. Check out some tips for applying in Parks & Recreation magazine and then start getting your application together! Applications are due March 23, 2018
Learn More and Apply
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Grant Opportunity
The ULI Urban Open Space Award will recognize open spaces including parks, plazas, squares, parks, memorials, linear parks and trails, or other non-traditional park and open space formats that have been instrumental in promoting healthy, sustainable, and equitable outcomes in communities. ULI will honor outstanding parks and open spaces in conjunction with the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, which is promoting the idea that everyone in urban America should live within a 10-minute walk to a high quality park.
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