Our Values, Value and Voice
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:

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.
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.  
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
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
Trending Stories
The Huffington Post
Instead of expecting radical change in an instant, why not focus on smaller changes that can create big differences in our lives?
The New York Times
As FEMA revises the maps to account for climate change, deciding
who is in the flood zone will be a battle with millions of dollars at stake.
The plan is for 50 million new trees to repopulate one of the least wooded parts of the country and offer a natural escape from several cities in the north.
Water Environment Federation
In South Carolina, which barely escaped the brunt of Hurricane Irma last summer, municipal stormwater managers are demonstrating that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to limit runoff pollution.
Arbor Day Foundation
A U.S. Forest Service study shows that after eight years, bioswales using engineered soil mixes are effective at reducing surface runoff, removing pollutants from surface runoff, and supporting tree growth in an urban landscape.
The New York Times
Experts say there are plenty of ways to put Christmas trees to good use after the holidays, so don't just trash them.
The New York Times
Whether an East Harlem ballpark will give way to what could be the tallest building between Midtown Manhattan and Boston may hinge upon the definition of a park versus a playground.
Route Fifty
Heading into the new year, state and local government groups remain eager to work with the Trump administration and Congress on infrastructure legislation.
Next City
Despite President Donald Trump's promises to "fix our inner cities" and invest in urban infrastructure, American cities have spent much of the first year of his administration worrying about how his policies might contribute instead to their unmaking.
National League of Cities
As President Trump and Congressional leadership emerge from a strategy meeting at Camp David this week, the infrastructure debate is heating up.
Baltimore addressed its trash problem in its Inner Harbor with a floating water wheel. But it got public buy-in by giving it a personality.
Next City
Here's a look at the campaign promises and track records of these newbies, who will shape urban policy from Atlanta to Seattle.
Health and Wellness
Fitness has become far more than just a New Year's resolution in many American cities. Once rife with grit and nightlife, many urban neighborhoods now embrace fitness as a lifestyle.
It's not just a lack of grocery stores that's making us fat. It's an overabundance of fast food.
Next City
Under the theme of RIOT, a jury has chosen seven winning designs to liven up Toronto's beachfront this winter, including a tower made of pinwheels in the shape of a nuclear reactor and a bright pink "Pussy Hut," topped with an enormous knitted hat.
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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