Let’s Make Parks and Recreation a Top Trending Topic

January 7, 2019, Department, by Barbara Tulipane, CAE

Barbara Tulipane 410

If you have a smartphone in your pocket, a tablet for browsing the internet or a computer at your desk, chances are you have been on social media or a news feed in the past 24 hours. While you were scrolling trending topics, how many times did you see something that made you think, “Wow, that’s interesting”?

It is amazing how much of our daily attention is captured by trending topics, so much so that we hardly even notice what a time-suck it is. But, I will occasionally catch myself and ask, how do I sift through the blizzard of trending topics to know which will be lasting and which are, well, just fads?

This month’s issue of Parks & Recreation is all about trends affecting the field — where are we now, what’s coming next and what should we be doing now to prepare for the future. How we define diversity today, for example, may be different in the future. Health determinants, income inequality, educational opportunities and environmental conditions will require us to look outside the boundaries of parks and the traditional offerings of community recreation programs. Forces such as gentrification, displacement of communities and social cohesion are rapidly shaping the future of parks and recreation, whether we like it or not.

I want a world where parks and recreation is among the top trending topics. If it is, our world will be a better place, and we will find more opportunities for large-scale beneficial changes. People will have more places to go to become healthy and stay healthy. We will have a healthier environment and be able to enjoy the many benefits that brings. We will have more beauty and appreciation for life, every day.

If I stop during the blizzard of information about “what’s trending now,” and ask myself what will have not only a lasting impact on me, but also on my community and even on our country, I have a much better understanding about what trends will be meaningful for the future. I believe we can cut through the daily bombardment of information by effective communication and good relationships. When I am with my family, especially my granddaughter, not only am I happier, but I intuitively spend more time thinking about the things she’s going to need to navigate her way through this world. Suddenly, the fads fall away, and the trends come to the forefront.

Barbara Tulipane, CAE is NRPA's President and CEO.