The Opportunity of Justice — for All

May 1, 2015, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

NRPA Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director, Gina Mullins-CohenThirty-seven years ago, in April 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. The measure was created to target both deliberate discrimination and presumably unbiased procedures that had unfounded discriminatory influence. This term, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the Fair Housing Act will continue to protect people from housing policies that discriminate in practice, without proof of intentional discrimination.

Arguments for the case called Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project were heard January 21, and a decision is expected by July 2015. Starting on page 48 of this issue, acclaimed civil rights attorney Robert García explains how the Court’s decision could impact the field of parks and recreation. This must-read commentary addresses why it is critical for each of us to understand the Act and the events leading up to the decision so we can accurately appraise the implications within all of our communities.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in South Dakota has been in the news a lot recently. NBC’s Today and NPR introduced their audiences to a television commercial produced by GOED, suggesting people visit South Dakota instead of going to Mars. Why would they do this? The answer is simple. If you visit Mars, you will die, but go to South Dakota and you can live. This ad campaign is part of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s efforts to position South Dakota as a state of opportunities, with a focus on its numerous outdoor recreational options. This issue’s cover feature boasts an interview with Gov. Daugaard by Parks & Recreation magazine’s Executive Editor, Danielle Taylor. This fascinating dialogue embarks on a story that not only positions parks and outdoor recreation as significant reasons to relocate to the state, but also speaks to one man’s vision and efforts to secure recreational opportunities for people with varying degrees of disabilities.

The feature on page 52 by Stephen Springs and Dwayne Brinkley examines the varying architectural design elements currently being included in plans for recreation centers. The recreation center of today must meet the challenging demands of millennials, as well as a steady progression of whims from the baby boomers. This story works through the complexities of design options allowing for health and wellness and intended to stimulate and support better programming.

This issue of Parks & Recreation speaks to only a fraction of the efforts our agencies go through in regard to equity and the ever-growing needs of a community. Let us know your position on these topics. We are eager to hear your opinions and share your stories.

Gina Mullins-Cohen is NRPA's Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director.