Executive Director of City Parks Alliance, Catherine Nagel, was asked recently why building and maintaining parks was so important, given all of our other obvious public and urban needs, and considering how costly it can be to fund such projects. Her response: “With the urbanization of our planet, people living in these dense environments — this is kind of obvious — need clean air to breathe, clean water to drink. Their children need places to play. We have the researchnow. All the new health studies about open space have been significantly helpful. There is growing recognition that proximity to parks has a direct impact on how healthy a community and its residents are.”
This is an example of what is on the agenda for next month’s International Urban Parks Conference, being held in New York City, July 14-17. “The conference is going to be an opportunity to look at some of the newest models of funding and understand how they’re working at the local level, helping cities find sources of revenue for urban parks of all types and sizes. You have to build coalitions of unlikely partners to get parks built, restored and maintained.” explains Nagel.
The theme for this year’s conference is Greater and Greener: Re-imagining Parks for 21st Century Cities. We took a look at some of the dynamic sessionstaking place and have compiled a list of EngagingCities’ favorite topics to be covered:
Going Beyond Park Boundaries to Build a Winning Coalition
Hazel Wong, Director of the Conservation Campaigns Team, The Nature Conservancy ; Eric Friedenwald-Fishman, Creative Director/President, Metropolitan Group; Roland Lewis,President & CEO, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; and Mark Perreault, President, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park discuss with attendees how to organize an effective coalition that goes beyond the “usual suspects.” Hear success stories from nonprofit organizations, social media and communications experts about messaging and diversifying your advocacy base.
Reviving the Neighborhood: Strategies for Restoring Vacant Property
An expert panel from The Atlantic Cities, Local Office Landscape Architecture,The German Marshall Fund of the United States and Groundwork Lawrence tackle the issue of increasing vacant properties in neighborhoods around the globe. They will discuss popular solutions for what has caused decreased housing values and an up rise in crime, to stimulate turnaround.
Using Technology to Map, Learn and Teach About Parks
Computerized mapping, known as geographic information systems, is revolutionizing the way we study, learn about, protect and care for parks – and how we teach people about them, too. Join expert panelists, Noah Harlan, Robert Cheetham, Erika Svendsen, Ph.D.and Fabian Wagmisteras we learn about the most innovative and useful applications of this powerful technology. Examples from Azavea, Two Bulls, the developers of the MyParx app, The USDA Forest Service, REMAP - UCLA, and more.
How to Connect with Local Communities
Just as trees need water and light to grow, a city park needs local, community-based stewardship to thrive. There are many ways to connect with people who live near your park to strengthen their connection to the park. They range from community councils to partnerships with faith-based organizations to creating promotional materials in multiple languages. Expert panelists include: Alina Bokde, Douglas Nam Le, MUP, Celida Gómez, Ph.D., and Holly M. Leicht.
An Emblem of the Times: Public-Private Partnerships
Partnerships between public agencies and private organizations have yielded magnificent results in New York, Chicago and numerous other cities, but these relationships are complex and need extraordinary levels of care and attention. Learn about successes, different models and structures – and how to avoid problems. Read Catherine Nagel’s interview w/ The Next American City : Viewing the City from the Grass Up >>
Soliciting, Managing and Retaining Volunteers
Panelists from the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, City Parks Foundation and REI share their insights on soliciting, managing and retaining good volunteers for your project. A dollar saved is as good as a dollar earned, and volunteers can be an excellent source of labor for park agencies that are strapped for funds. But recruiting, training and retaining volunteers are a high art. There can also be issues relating to existing employees and union rules. Learn the dos and don’ts from some of the most successful city park volunteer programs.
Parks and open space can become new tools for community engagement, bringing together the public and private sector to address a variety of urban issues. As Nagel points out, Pittsburgh was once one of the dirtiest cities in the country, for example, and it has totally reinvented itself as one of the greenest cities and is now considered to have one of the highest qualities of life in the U.S. in part because they have invested in green space. As a result they have been able to attract new investment and thrive.
If you’ll be in the NYC area next month, check out the Greater & Greener site. Registration is still open, and there are options to attend the full four day conference, or if you register by June 30, there is a significant discount on special one day passes. The program also includes multiple opportunities to attend mobile workshops, a volunteer day, weekend tours, and receptions in great parks.
Find out more or register today >>