49 and Counting

October 1, 2014, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

Gina Mullins-Cohen, NRPA’s Vice President of Marketing, Communications and PublishingIt is not the first time, and certainly not the last, that a mother allows her young child to play alone outside. This child loves being outdoors. This child loves parks. Is this child safe?

The topic of children’s safety in parks is a divisive issue these days. Stories of unsupervised kids playing in parks and parents being scrutinized for allowing such activity are thrust upon us by the media, as neighborhood associations, teachers, law enforcement officers, groups of concerned parents (on both sides of the issue) and even politicians weave in and out of this constant, burning debate. What is right and what is wrong are often parallel stories with dividing lines falling to generational and/or economic differences. Jessica Culverhouse, NRPA’s senior manager of fundraising, moves this conversation front and center in her article “Parks: A Place for Play.” Culverhouse combs through the rhetorical clatter and addresses both the fear and stigmatization parents face in raising children today, and also the basic truth that every child deserves the opportunity to engage in safe play.

Our cover feature, “‘No Thanks’ Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Rejects Offer of Downtown East Park” by Rich Dolesh, NRPA’s  vice president of conservation and parks, provides a unique glimpse into the chaos surrounding the new urban park to be built adjacent to the Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis. Conceptual designs for the park rolled out with great fanfare, but since then plans have met with media skepticism, public opposition and even a taxpayer lawsuit. Reasons why the Park Board formally declined continued discussions with the city about taking over the operations of this new park are explored in this fascinating, must-read story.

Moving deeper into the dialogue of the vital role that parks and recreation play in a community’s health and well-being, I interview Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, and keynote panelist at NRPA’s 2014 annual conference. Dr. Rockeymoore addresses recent statistics concerning the high obesity rates of children of color from low-income families and how park and recreation agencies are key to healthy solutions.

Each year, in addition to the average monthly readership of more than 50,000, Parks & Recreation magazine’s print edition is given to more than 6,500 additional park and recreation professionals at NRPA’s annual conference. This year marks the 49th installment of this conference, and as the count-up to the 50th anniversary begins, Parks & Recreation magazine continues in full-forward motion as the steadfast voice within this field, as well as the pennant asserting the good work of agencies now, the innovative work that is to come in the next 49 years, and then some.

Gina Mullins-Cohen is NRPA's Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publications and the Editorial Director of Parks & Recreation magazine.