This is the introduction to my blog. My hope for this blog is simple:that you will find stories and information you relate to, find applicable, and that will encourage you to build more parks for more people. I have a lot of experience, stories and lessons to share. The timing of this first blog is no coincidence. When our local parks shut down for shelter in place it created in me a whole new appreciation for parks.
I was riding bikes with my wife on the Tennessee Riverwalk this past weekend on a beautiful afternoon. It was lively. There were a lot of people from all walks-of-life outside enjoying the weather and the public space. That weekend happened to be the first weekend that the Riverwalk opened back up after closing to the public because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Let me just say, we rode for 2 hours! We rode a little more than 16 miles because we were so excited to get back out on the Riverwalk.
There are two things that gave me a new appreciation for park space:
1 - Not being allowed to go to our public parks and
2 - the realization that people depend on these spaces
I have always loved the Riverpark. I helped bring it into being when I was working with The Trust for Public Land. When it closed I missed it, my wife missed it, our entire community missed it, and wanted to get back outside into these great public spaces.
I realized that it was not just about missing the Riverpark, but it was a deep need to have access these places. These spaces were created with the purpose of access and enjoyment by the public. When these spaces were officially closed, it was like they were gone. They were certainly still there, thankfully, and we could admire them from afar, but we could not get access.
I have been a park builder and advocate for 17 years and now I appreciate parks in a whole new way. I have the right words and studies around parks and the environment, parks and real estate values, parks and economic values, even parks and health impacts. This was different. This is not a political post about whether or not parks should have been closed. I simply want to say that I have a new appreciation and perspective for parks.
I mentioned that the Riverwalk was packed that day with people from all walks of life. All sorts of people depend on these spaces to get fresh air, to spend time with family and friends, to exercise, to take a break, to get centered, and to get reconnected.
Thank you to everyone that has ever helped make a park happen. Thank you to the park directors and managers, thank you to the park staff and maintenance crews, thank you for event organizers, thank you to the park designers and dreamers!
There are so many rich stories around parks and park making. I want to share my stories with you and I want to find awesome stories to share. My hope is this blog will encourage you to provide more parks and greenspace for your community. Most of the stories I share will have a bent toward application. I want to make sure it is relevant to those of you working in the parks and recreation field so that you can find tips and ideas along with encouragement and renewed energy that will help you create more parks. For all sorts of reasons - We all need these outdoor spaces now more than ever!
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