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Right now, the people of our country are facing many complicated and deep-seated challenges — from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to a number of recent instances of police brutality enacted upon the black community that have brought to a head a long history of systemic racism. Amidst the worry and unrest, park and recreation professionals have stood out as a beacon of hope for the progress that can be made to overcome these issues. What we have known all along has become exceedingly apparent — park and recreation leaders are the glue holding communities together, and the essential services you provide bring about the promising change our nation needs.
That’s why, for this year’s Park and Recreation Month, our theme is focused on calling much-deserved awareness to the people of a profession proven to be critical in addressing many of the world’s social, health and environmental challenges. Our cover story beginning on page 34, “Celebrating YOU This July,” by NRPA’s Cort Jones, highlights some of the park and recreation professionals from across the country who have committed their careers — and in many cases, their lives — to serving their communities and improving quality of life in myriad ways, from providing healthy meals and recreation opportunities to ensuring safety and inclusivity in our public spaces.
As we continue to face these challenges head on, we recognize the need to look forward and address the ways in which the world is being shaped by current events. In the feature, “Parks and Recreation in a Post-Pandemic World,” on page 42, NRPA Board member Neelay Bhatt tells how park and recreation leaders can take part in shaping the “Top 10 Next Practices,” as well as recommendations on ways your organization can become a “next practice organization.”
A recent renovation project, in Spokane, Washington, pays homage to the history of Riverfront Spokane’s pavilion while incorporating the natural landscape to create a place of community for residents of the city. In this feature story, on page 48, titled “Spokane’s Riverfront Pavilion,” contributor Elizabeth J. Zipf describes how “for many, the  pavilion was a celebration of Mother Nature and…a symbol of hope for a better, cleaner world. Now, it symbolizes the city itself and Spokane’s unwavering determination to bring its natural beauty back to its people.”
This Park and Recreation Month, we sincerely thank our park and recreation professionals and are committed to bringing recognition to everything that you do to improve the quality of life for all people and to make our communities better places to live.
Gina Mullins-Cohen is Vice President of Communications and Chief Marketing Officer at NRPA.