Meet Them Where They Are — Make Their Job Easy
Meet Them Where They Are — Make Their Job Easy
Earlier today I had the privilege of attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., where — along with our partners in the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, the Trust for Public Land — we had the opportunity to brief the Tourism, Art, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee on the 10-Minute Walk Efforts. It was great to hear an enthusiastic reaction to the campaign in real-time from local elected leaders and we expect to add to our tally of 150 mayors.

The conversations got me thinking about the recently released Menino Survey of Mayors, in which mayors identified affordable housing and climate change as among their top challenges in 2017. In a competitive marketplace for ideas and attention, what can we, or what must we do as an organization and as local leaders to stay front of mind to our elected leaders?
I think the keys are relevance and vigilance. The tendency of any leader or subject matter expert is to lead with our priorities and the programs or places that we're justly proud of. Instead, perhaps we should sit back, listen and learn. What are the issues that your mayor (or county executive or city manager) are struggling with? What do they spend their days and sleepless nights focusing on?
In many cases, we do have part of a solution. Homelessness vexing your leadership? Do like Portland, ME, or San Jose, CA and pilot a program that hires individuals experiencing homelessness to help maintain your parks and centers. Don't have a direct tie-in to that key vexing issue? Climate change got your elected officials down? Share your agency's resilience plan to redesign your waterfront as a protective park buffer. Rather than forcing a square peg in a round hole, fall back on the fact that we've got kids and smiles all over town. Bring your elected officials by for a little park and rec therapy — give them a dose of sun and smiles. Then rinse and repeat, stay vigilant, keep out in front of the issues your city is facing and deliver solutions when we can. And where there's no park and rec solution, how 'bout those smiles — can't hurt during budget cycle, right?  
Kevin O'Hara
Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs
In this week's episode of Open Space Radio, we're chatting about how the shift in how people are getting around cities is causing the use of parking lots to decline, and how that land can be used in other, more environmentally friendly ways. This transition into a "ride-sharing economy," coupled with a complete waste of urban space, provides a huge opportunity for increased land use for parks and recreation in dense urban areas. Converting these unused asphalt parking lots into parks, green spaces or urban farms is a way that we can not only brighten our communities and cities, but our future as well. Many people view their favorite parks as their "paradise" — this could be our opportunity to reclaim that paradise.
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