Inspired Park Design

February 18, 2021, Department, by Vitisia Paynich

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For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine.

This month, the magazine team focuses on park design with an emphasis on equity. As park and recreation professionals, you recognize the importance of designing open spaces that are accessible, inclusive and inviting to all. In the cover story, “Gathering Place: A Park for Everyone,” on page 34, contributor Mark Trieglaff drives this point home when discussing the planning and design work that went into Tulsa, Oklahoma’s riverfront park. “To develop this park, the park staff and designers were guided by an acronym developed more than 10 years ago: DEI, which stands for diversity, equity and inclusion,” Trieglaff writes. He adds that the Gathering Place designers “were highly committed to creating accessible park features” that not only adhere to “Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but also incorporates many principles of universal design.”

In the feature article “Patch Happy” on page 40, author Mike Abbaté offers a closer look at how Portland Parks and Recreation took park design to another level by transforming underperforming landscapes into ecologically healthy and visually stunning natural spaces. The park agency accomplished this by implementing a new policy, called the Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Initiative (ESLI). Among ESLI’s three primary objectives is to “create diverse park landscapes by converting poorly performing areas to ‘nature patches.’” The Nature Patch program has not only helped to revitalize the city’s parks, but also has brought community members together for a common purpose. “As the program continues, Portland Parks and Recreation hears increasingly from neighbors requesting a nature patch project in their local parks,” Abbaté writes.

Lastly, contributor Neelay Bhatt discusses a new TEDxCollegePark virtual event for park and recreation professionals in the feature article “Ensuring ‘An Equal Future’ for All” on page 46. On March 19, leaders in parks and recreation, academia and business — along with other innovative thinkers — will present during TEDxCollegePark 2021: An Equal Future. Why should anyone attend this virtual gathering? According to Bhatt, this free event aims to: “prepare the park and recreation professional of the future; identify what true accessibility and inclusion looks like; learn a different history than you thought you knew; have tough conversations around equity and access; and inspire the next generation of leaders.” What’s more, NRPA is excited to partner with TEDxCollegePark and looks forward to participating in this important conversation.

We hope that as you peruse through the pages of the March issue, you find inspiration in some of the stories that will help you in your own equitable park design practices. After all, we know that everyone in our community deserves a great park. 

Vitisia "Vi" Paynich
Executive Editor
Print and Online Content