Designing Change

March 1, 2016, Department, by NRPA

NRPA Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director, Gina Mullins-CohenSeven years ago, NRPA participated in the overall improvement of Marvin Gaye Park in Washington, D.C. It was from that work, united with NRPA’s dedication to our Three Pillars — Conservation , Health and Wellness and Social Equity — and our commitment to improve parks in underserved communities, that the Parks Build Community initiative was born. 

Refurbishing a park or building one from scratch starts with ideas, people and plans that often exist in the shadows. The teams responsible for selecting playground equipment, aquatic features, landscaping and other amenities may never be known to the general public, but their work will be appreciated for generations yet to be born. 

This issue of Parks & Recreation magazine salutes the planners, landscape architects, community leaders, corporate sponsors and park and recreation professionals responsible for this great work, in a special one-on-one interview with Forum Studio’s Senior Associate/Senior Landscape Architect Neil Eisenberger, starting on page 56. This accomplished design house was selected to help NRPA and its partners envision this year’s Parks Build Community project at Wellston, Missouri’s Trojan Park — in this Q&A, Eisenberger takes a wider view, discussing the way design impacts our physical, mental and social well-being.

Author Michael Cannavino, CPRP, looks at how park and public space design impacts the incidence of crime, starting on page 60. Using tools like the crime triangle, Cannavino explains how designers and planners can take a proactive approach to making their new projects and revitalizations safer for residents and visitors alike. 

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, weighs heavily on the American consciousness as the specter of crumbling infrastructure and its often disastrous consequences is made all too real in the poisoning of hundreds of adults and children. Executive Editor Samantha Bartram takes a look at how the crisis is impacting parks and recreation in Flint and surrounding Genesee County, starting on page 10.

Design matters, but so does commitment. Commitment of residents, municipal leaders, funders and you, the professionals who keep our public spaces up and running. NRPA is committed to elevating the work you do each and every day through initiatives like Parks Build Community, and in these pages, we hope to highlight the actions, stories and individuals who, regardless of circumstance, re-commit to this often challenging work each and every day. All our communities are made better for it.


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