Leading the Way

January 23, 2020, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

Gina Mullins Cohen Standing Pond 410

As we head into February, I’d like to take a moment to recognize that 2020 is not only the start of a new year, but also the beginning of a new decade. While each January brings a fresh start, it is the 10-year mark at which we measure economic and cultural trends, societal challenges and successes, and the resulting attitudes that shape the course of history. In the United States, the 1980s brought advances in digital and genetic technologies, MTV and a shift toward unrestrictive capitalism, while the 1990s are remembered for a rise in multiculturalism and the launch of the World Wide Web. In the 2000s, a terrorist attack shifted the ethos of the nation and we made steps toward racial equity by electing our first African American president. Entering this new decade, we are faced with growing and increasingly diverse populations, smart technology and the Internet of Things, political polarization and a quickly warming climate.

This issue of Parks & Recreation magazine focuses on the ways park and recreation professionals can lead the conversation, the actions that advance our mission and enhance the quality of life for all as we navigate this new decade and the challenges in front of us.

One challenge that is sure to affect park agencies in the not-so-distant future is the debate surrounding glyphosate, the main ingredient in the most widely used herbicides on the market. The cover feature, beginning on page 30, “Weeding Through the Thorny Debate on Glyphosate,” by author Richard J. Dolesh, explains why glyphosate is controversial and how growing concern about the chemical will impact park and recreation agency land management policies and procedures. “Your city or park and recreation agency may not have yet banned glyphosate, but local actions to restrict or fully ban its use on public properties are likely,” says Dolesh. Does your park agency staff have a plan in place for safely and effectively conducting weed management when these bans occur?

As we face this and other matters, park and recreation leaders can guide the progress of the industry and beyond by embodying the values of the profession and galvanizing others to take part in the movement. In the feature, titled “Leading with Courage,” on page 34, author Jamie Sabbach discusses the qualities true leaders exhibit that set them apart from simply being managers. “Many profess to be leaders,” Sabbach states. “However, those who exhibit leadership do not call attention to themselves — they call attention to the cause.”

As you read through the February 2020 issue of Parks & Recreation magazine, I encourage you to reflect on those park professionals who you have witnessed making tough decisions that make a difference, and consider the ways you can face challenges head on and express your values to become a leader in the park and recreation movement. Together, we will work to shape the 2020s into a decade enlivened by the park and recreation industry, and the people who comprise it.

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