Celebrating Parks and Recreation

September 1, 2019, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

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The NRPA Annual Conference has officially arrived! Here at headquarters, the feeling is akin to the countdown to a new year. This event is not only a gathering of thousands of park and recreational professionals to share their knowledge, but it is also a time to reflect on individual accomplishments as well as those across our field. It is now time to set goals for the upcoming year.

I can’t think of a better way to spark inspiration than with an Opening General Session keynote from one of the greatest baseball players of all time. We are thrilled to have Cal Ripken Jr. kick off the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference — so excited, in fact, we couldn’t wait to talk with him! If you can’t wait either, turn to the feature on page 50, “A Conversation with Baseball’s ‘Iron Man.’” This in-depth interview with Cal Ripken Jr., by NRPA’s communications manager, Cort Jones, speaks to his baseball career, the work of his foundation and why he’s excited to be with us in Baltimore.

Then, we delve into one of the most vital questions pertaining to the field of parks and recreation: what makes a great park? The feature on page 56, by contributors Mike Abbaté, Gina Ford and Joseph Webb, “Designing the Great Park that Everyone Deserves,” gives the perspective of three landscape architects who provide answers and insight on how to create truly great spaces and how residents, elected officials and park and recreation professionals can assess the “greatness” of their parks.

Once we’ve got you thinking about big ideas, we provide you with just a couple of the trends and tactics to consider implementing at your parks. On page 62, NRPA Board member Neelay Bhatt explains why parks and recreation should get into esports, the fastest-growing sport genre on a national and global scale. And, on page 68, in “Tennis: A Game Changer in Park Revitalization,” Mary Helen Sprecher provides insights about how one of the country’s most popular and accessible recreation activities can revitalize your parks and create additional revenue by putting a little love and attention into your preexisting infrastructure.

All that you need to know to explore Baltimore is contained in the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference feature section beginning on page 74. Be sure to read up on all the activities Charm City has to offer to make the most of your trip, as well as Parks Build Community and the people and organizations that make these events possible.

Whether you are joining us in Baltimore, attending our NRPA Live sessions or reading your updates in Parks & Recreation magazine, we hope you are proud of the achievements we’ve made together and are excited about what’s to come.

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