In our anniversary year, it seems appropriate to take pause to honor those individuals who 50 years ago had the foresight and were willing to become change agents and innovators of their day by establishing the National Recreation and Park Association. It is worth noting that we truly owe them a debt of gratitude for laying the groundwork to bring us to where we find ourselves today. As a result of their innovations, we have countless examples of how we have advanced tremendously during the past 50 years, resulting in positive effects on the economy, environment, and health and well-being of people throughout our nation.
In order to truly honor their legacy, it becomes incumbent upon us to consciously examine and determine what we are willing to do to continue the association’s advancement during the next 50 years. As our technology counterparts say, “What’s the next big thing?” So, it also seems appropriate for us to ask ourselves the question: Are we not the new change agents, or as I like to say, the “strategic radicals” of our time? Are we willing to embrace new innovative thoughts and actions, as our forefathers did, in order to realize a quantum leap for our association over the next 50 years?
Within the Three Pillars of Conservation, Health and Wellness, and Social Equity, we have developed a firm strategic framework for addressing three of the most critical challenges facing our communities at this time. How we meet these challenges is up to us. Now is the time to ask ourselves, as the pioneers of NRPA asked, do we want to conform to the traditional environment or do we want to go where no one else has gone before? I quote NRA (National Recreation Association) Vice President Luther Gulick, at the time of consolidation, “The nation stands on the threshold of tremendous developments in recreation and parks, greater than for two generations; it is important to develop a whole new strategy, to take a broad look and start anew, concentrating on positive moves.” With that thought, strategy and change is not new to our industry. Are you creating that next BIG THING?
Detrick L. Stanford, CPRP, is NRPA's Chair of the Board of Directors.